First Look: Derby points preps lead 15 weekend graded stakes

First Look: Derby points preps lead 15 weekend graded stakes
Photo: NYRA Photo

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The road to Kentucky Derby 2023 makes stops at Aqueduct and Gulfstream this weekend with points races in the Grade 3 Withers and Holy Bull.

Santa Anita and Gulfstream have busy calendars, and in one Santa Anita stakes, Bob Baffert has all four entries.

Here's an early look at the likely fields.


Withers (G3), Aqueduct, 1 1/8 miles, 3-year-olds, 20-8-6-4-2 Kentucky Derby qualifying points

Hit Show, rerouted here from the Southwest (G3), is 2-for-3 and finished fourth in his only trip beyond a mile. After a 9 1/4-length debut win in October, Mr. Ripple was third by a nose last out in an optional-claiming allowance at Gulfstream. Arctic Arrogance has a record of 5: 2-3-0, but his last two losses each were by only a half-length in the Jerome and the Remsen (G2).

2023 Withers (G3)

Holy Bull (G3), Gulfstream, 1 1/16 miles, 3-year-olds, 20-8-6-4-2 Kentucky Derby qualifying points

Legacy Isle crossed the line first in the Mucho Macho Man but was disqualified for interference. That race came after a 2-for-2 start. Lord Miles broke his maiden on debut by 5 3/4 lengths and missed second by a neck in the Mucho Macho Man. West Coast Cowboy fought for his debut win then was fourth in an optional-claiming allowance.

2023 Holy Bull (G3)

Forward Gal (G3), Gulfstream, 7 furlongs, 3-year-old fillies, 20-8-6-4-2 Kentucky Oaks qualifying points

Lynx won her first three but then was second and third in Gulfstream stakes. Atomically beat Lynx by 6 3/4 lengths in one of those stakes then finished seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies last out.

2023 Forward Gal (G3)

Kitten’s Joy (G3), Gulfstream, 1 1/16 miles (turf), 3-year-olds

Candidate has won three straight, including the Dania Beach last out over others expected here. Boppy O, winner of the With Anticipation (G3) last summer at Saratoga, switches back to turf after finishing ninth in the Street Sense (G3).

2023 Kitten's Joy (G3)

Swale (G3), Gulfstream, 7 furlongs, 3-year-olds

General Jim has two wins in five starts, and both of them were on turf. Super Chow is 5-for-6, with his only loss a third-place finish in the Saratoga Special (G2). Two of a Kind won his first two starts last spring then returned this month to finish third in the Limehouse Stakes.

2023 Swale (G3)

Sweetest Chant (G3), Gulfstream, 1 1/16 miles (turf), 3-year-old fillies

Cairo Consort, third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, returned to win the Ginger Brew last out. Stephanie’s Charm was a half-length back in that race to finish second after winning only one of her first seven starts.

2023 Sweetest Chant (G3)

Bayakoa (G3), Oaklawn, 1 1/16 miles, fillies and mares, 4-year-olds and up

Powder River has finished in the money in her last 10 starts, dating to October 2021, but has only one win in that stretch and will try her first graded stakes. Lovely Ride has one two in a row, including last out in the Pippin, where Ice Orchid was second and Le Da Vida was third.

2023 Bayakoa (G3)

Tampa Bay Stakes (G3), Tampa Bay Downs, 1 1/16 miles (turf), 4-year-olds and up

After going winless in his last seven starts – all stakes – Mighty Heart won an optional-claiming allowance race here last out. Emmanuel has won three of his six career starts and would have his first race since the Aug. 6 Saratoga Derby (G1), where he finished 10th.

2023 Tampa Bay Stakes (G3)

Endeavour (G3), Tampa Bay Downs, 1 1/16 miles (turf), fillies and mares, 4-year-olds and up

Surprisingly has won three of six career starts at six tracks and is coming off a closing second last out in the Tropical Park Oaks at Gulfstream. Sugar Fix was third last out in the Sunshine Filly and Mare Turf Stakes and is winless in her last four starts. Oliviaofthedesert rallied to win by a head last out in the Blushing K. D.

2023 Endeavour (G3)

Robert B. Lewis (G3), Santa Anita, 1 1/16 miles, 3-year-olds

Bob Baffert has all four entrants here, led by Newgate, winner of the Del Mar Futurity (G1) in September and second in the Bob Hope (G3) and Sham (G3) his last two starts. Arabian Lion is 1-for-3 after fading last month in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G2).

2023 Robert B. Lewis (G3)

Santa Monica (G2), Santa Anita, 7 furlongs, fillies and mares, 4-year-olds and up

Baffert’s Fun to Dream is 5-for-6, with a win in the La Brea (G1) last out over Awake at Midnyte, also entered here. Lady T’s win in the Las Flores (G3) last out was her first score in five starts since breaking her maiden last May.

2023 Santa Monica (G2)

Thunder Road (G3), Santa Anita, 1 mile (turf), 4-year-olds and up

Air Force Red has won his last two, including the Joe Hernandez (G2) last out over others entered here. Bob and Jackie came off a nearly nine-month layoff to finish fifth in the San Gabriel (G2) last out.

2023 Thunder Road Stakes (G3)

Megahertz (G3), Santa Anita, 1 mile (turf), fillies and mares, 4-year-olds and up

Closing Remarks finished second last out in the Robert J. Frankel (G3) after a nine-month break. In her only graded-stakes starts, Bay Storm finished second in the Mint Ladies Sprint (G3) and third last out in the Suwanee River (G3).

2023 Megahertz Stakes (G3)


San Marcos (G2), Santa Anita, 1 1/4 miles (turf), 4-year-olds and up

Say the Word would make his first start since finishing third in this event a year ago. The first- through fourth-place finishers in the San Gabriel (G2) are expected here, led by half-length winner Dicey Mo Chara.

2023 San Marcos (G2)

Palos Verdes (G3), Santa Anita, 6 furlongs, 4-year-olds and up

C Z Rocket could return here for his 9-year-old season after finishing second in his last two starts, the Breeders’ Cup Sprint and the Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G2). The latter was won by Howbeit, also expected here. Forbidden Kingdom was second in the Malibu (G1) last out after giving up his lead past the quarter pole.

2023 Palos Verdes (G3)

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