Now that the Pegasus World Cup races are in the books, attention turns more squarely to the 2021 Kentucky Derby trail, and two preps for the race are on the schedule for this weekend — along with two for the Kentucky Oaks.
Also, King Guillermo is slated to make his West Coast debut in the Grade 2 San Pascual at Santa Anita.
Here's an early look at the likely fields for this weekend's graded stakes, including the Derby and Oaks preps, each of which offers points on a 10-4-2-1 basis.
Kentucky Derby preps
Holy Bull (G3), Gulfstream, 1 1/16 miles, 3-year-olds
The star of this show, at least going in, is likely to be Mutasaabeq, the Into Mischief colt, a Shadwell homebred who won the Mucho Macho Man for Todd Pletcher on Jan. 2 at one mile on this track. Pletcher also is expected to enter Prime Factor, who won his debut by 8 3/4 lengths here on Dec. 12 going six furlongs. Greatest Honour is expected here for Shug McGaughey. The son of Tapit broke his maiden here on his fourth try the day after Christmas at the same distance.
Robert B. Lewis (G3), Santa Anita, 1 1/16 miles, 3-year-olds
Bob Baffert's Spielberg is expected here after his win in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G2) at this track and distance on Jan. 30. Hot Rod Charlie is unraced since finishing second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile for Doug O'Neill, who also is expected to enter Wipe the Slate, a Nyquist colt who broke his maiden on second try here on Dec. 26.
Kentucky Oaks preps
Forward Gal (G3), Gulfstream, 7 furlongs, 3-year-old fillies
Todd Pletcher is expected to bring another Shadwell homebred here in Zaajel, a Street Sense filly who won here on debut at this distance on Dec. 20. Competitive Speed has won three straight for Javier Gonzalez, including the Glitter Woman Stakes here at 6 1/2 furlongs on Jan. 2.
Martha Washington, Oaklawn, 1 mile, 3-year-old fillies
Joy's Rocket has two straight wins for Steve Asmussen in the Letellier Memorial at Fair Grounds on Dec. 19 and the Songbird at Keeneland on Nov. 6. Coach won his first three starts for Brad Cox before finishing third in the Golden Rod (G2) last out on Nov. 28.
Other graded stakes
Toboggan (G3), Aqueduct, 7 furlongs, 4-year-olds and up
Share the Ride has finished in the money in his last six starts, including a score in the Fall Highweight Handicap (G2) on Nov. 29. This his second start under trainer Miguel Penaloza after finishing as the runner-up in the Fire Plug Stakes last out at Laurel Park. Drafted came to Aqueduct in November, finishing fifth in the Fall Highweight after racing for four years in Dubai and in last year's Saudia Cup Sprint, where he finished sixth.
Kitten's Joy (G3), Gulfstream, one mile (turf), 3-year-olds
Never Surprised broke his maiden on debut at Aqueduct on Nov. 8 for Todd Pletcher and came back to win the Central Park Stakes there in his last out on Nov. 28 at 1 1/16 miles. American Pharoah colt Kentucky Pharoah has won two straight after switching to turf for Jack Sisterson, including the Dania Beach at this distance here on Jan. 2.
Swale (G3), Gulfstream, 7 furlongs, 3-year-olds
This would be the first start for By George since the Into Mischief colt won on debut for Christophe Clement at Aqueduct on Dec. 19. Todd Pletcher is expected to bring Likeable, a Frosted colt who finished 13th in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile last out after breaking his maiden at Belmont on second try at a mile.
Sweetest Chant (G3), Gulfstream, one mile (turf), 3-year-old fillies
Con Lima has three wins and three runner-up finishes in her six starts. Todd Pletcher took over her training after she broke her maiden on second try for Carlos David in July. After Dirty Dangle won her first two starts at Woodbine for trainer Ralph Biamonte, Mark Casse took over and entered her in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint, where she finished ninth.
San Marcos (G2), Santa Anita, 1 1/4 miles (turf), 4-year-olds and up
Acclimate came back from a yearlong layoff to finish fourth in the Hollywood Turf Cup (G2) at Del Mar in November for trainer Phil D'Amato. He then finished third in the Unusual Heat Turf Classic here on Jan. 16. D'Amato also is expected to start Salvator Mundi, who stretches out a bit after finishing third in his last two starts, both allowance races.
Note: Heavy rain is expected in the area late in the week. If that affects the turf track, this race is likely to be delayed by a week rather than to be moved off the turf. If it is delayed, the field likely would change.
San Pascual (G2), Santa Anita, 1 1/8 miles, 4-year-olds and up
King Guillermo is expected here as he pursues a slot in the March 6 Santa Anita Handicap. After declining an invitation to the Pegasus World Cup, trainer Juan Carlos Avila said the colt was "perfect" and would ship to California. Idol didn't break his maiden until his second start in September for trainer Richard Baltas. He then won an allowance race at Churchill Downs before finishing second in the San Antonio Stakes (G2) here on Dec. 26.
Houston Ladies Classic (G3), Sam Houston, 1 1/16 miles, fillies and mares 4 years old and up
Steve Asmussen took over training of Motion Emotion after the Take Charge Indy mare finished fourth in the Personal Ensign Stakes (G1) last out in August. He also entered defending champ Lady Apple, who finished fourth in the Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf (G3) before a third-place effort in the Joseph E. Spanky Broussard in her last out Dec. 26. Click here for the full field.
John B. Connally Turf Cup (G3), Sam Houston, 1 1/2 miles (turf), 4-year-olds and up
Mike Maker brings three here, including Conviction Trade, who has finished in the money his last three starts, including a second-place effort in the H. Allen Jerkens last out. This is a second effort after a five-week layoff for Spooky Channel, who finished fourth in the Fort Lauderdale (G2) last out on Dec. 12.