First Look: 3 Derby preps lead 12 graded stakes this week

First Look: 3 Derby preps lead 12 graded stakes this week
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire

This time next week, we will have new names at or near the top of the 2021 Kentucky Derby leaderboard. Three prep races this weekend all offer 50 points to the winner.

For now, only two colts have 50 or more points: Greatest Honour has 60 points after winning the Fountain of Youth (G2) on Saturday, and Mandaloun, winner of the Risen Star (G2) on Feb. 13, has 52.

[RELATED: See how short Vegas odds are for top Kentucky Derby hopes]

In Saturday's Derby preps, Bob Baffert's Life Is Good and Medina Spirit could match up in the San Felipe (G2). Candy Man Rocket is expected to meet Promise Keeper in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2), and Chad Brown's Highly Motivated could return in the Gotham (G3).

This weekend also brings two points preps for the Kentucky Oaks, both awarding 50 points to the winner.

Among older horses, Maxfield will look to go 6-for-6 in the Santa Anita Handicap (G1).

Here is an early look at the fields for the Derby and Oaks preps and for other graded stakes this weekend.

Kentucky Derby preps

Tampa Bay Derby (G2), Tampa Bay, 1 1/16 miles

Candy Man Rocket's win in the Sam F. Davis (G3) followed a rout when breaking his maiden at Gulfstream in January. Helium was 2-for-2 last year but has not raced since October. Hello Hot Rod is riding a three-race winning streak, and Promise Keeper broke his maiden with a five-length triumph Feb. 6 in the Gulfstream slop. King of Dreams has the same connections as King Guillermo, whose win in this race last year put him on the Kentucky Derby trail.

2021 Tampa Bay Derby (G2)

San Felipe Stakes (G2), Santa Anita, 1 1/16 miles

Bob Baffert's Life Is Good and Medina Spirit, who finished one-two in the Sham Stakes (G3), could meet again. Medina Spirit went on to win the Robert B. Lewis (G3), and they both have been firing bullets in their Santa Anita works. Baffert also could enter Hozier, who graduated last out at this track and distance. It took five tries for The Great One to break his maiden, but he did it with a 14-length romp at Santa Anita last out.

2021 San Felipe Stakes (G2)

Gotham (G3), Aqueduct, one mile

This would be the first race for Chad Brown's Highly Motivated since a 4 1/4-length romp at Keeneland on the Breeders' Cup undercard that set a track record. Bob Baffert's Freedom Fighter is expected to come back in this race after finishing second to stablemate Concert Tour in the San Vicente Stakes (G2).

2021 Gotham (G3)

Kentucky Oaks preps

Honeybee (G3), Oaklawn, 1 1/16 miles, 3-year-old fillies

Coach will look to avenge her 5 1/2-length loss to Will's Secret in the Martha Washington. This would be the eighth start and sixth track for Oliviaofthedesert, who rallied to win the Trapeze at Remington Park last out.

2021 Honeybee (G3)

Busher Invitational, Aqueduct, one mile, 3-year-old fillies

Laobanonaprayer had won two straight before her runner-up effort in the Franklin Square. This would be only the second start for Search Results, who broke her maiden by four lengths in January.

2021 Busher (LS)

Other graded stakes


Tom Fool Handicap (G3), Aqueduct, six furlongs, 4-year-olds and up

Share the Ride has finished in the money in his last eight starts. Speed Pass's third-place finish in a Jan. 30 allowance at Santa Anita came after an 11-month layoff. Happy Farm took a break and switched trainers after a runner-up effort in this race a year ago for Jason Servis. After finishing last in the Jan. 2 Gravesend Stakes for Linda Rice, he scored in a claiming race last out.

2021 Tom Fool Handicap (G3)

Hillsborough (G2), Tampa Bay, 1 1/8 miles, fillies and mares, 4-year-olds and up

This will be the first start for Magic Attitude since a third-place finish in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) in October. That followed a score in September's Belmont Oaks Invitational (G1) in her first U.S. start. Myhartblongstodady had four straight wins before coming in third in the Forever Together in November.

2021 Hillsborough (G2)

Florida Oaks (G3), Tampa Bay, 1 1/16 miles (turf), 3-year-old fillies

Oyster Box and Mia Martina move into graded company after winning their first two starts. Todd Pletcher's Jouster also has won two straight, breaking her maiden on third try when she switched to turf in January and then winning a Gulfstream allowance at this distance in February.

2021 Florida Oaks (G3)

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

Tax won the Harlan's Holiday (G3) in December, then came in 10th in the Pegasus World Cup (G1) in January. Math Wizard finished fourth in the Harlan's Holiday but was half a length better than Tax in the Pegasus. War Stopper returned from a break after a 10th-place finish in the Gotham (G3) last year to win two straight allowance races in December and January.

2021 Challenger Stakes (G3)

Santa Anita Handicap (G1), Santa Anita, 1 1/14 miles, 4-year-olds and up

Maxfield ships from New Orleans in looking to go 6-for-6 with a victory in the Big 'Cap. King Guillermo came in fifth in the San Pascual (G2), his first race in California. The first- and second-place finishers of the San Pascual, Express Train and Tizamagician, also are expected here.

2021 Santa Anita Handicap (G1)

Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1), Santa Anita, 1 mile (turf), 4-year-olds and up

Ride A Comet has won three straight, including two graded stakes, since coming off a two-year layoff for Mark Casse. In his last three starts, Smooth Like Strait won the Twilight Derby (G2) and Mathis Brothers Mile (G2) and came in second in the Hollywood Derby (G1).

2021 Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1)

San Carlos (G2), Santa Anita, 7 furlongs, 4-year-olds and up

This would be the first start for Cistron since his fifth-place finish in the Daytona Stakes (G3) in May. Extra Hope's sixth-place finish in the San Antonio (G2) followed a score in the Native Diver (G3).

2021 San Carlos (G2)


Santa Ysabel (G3), Santa Anita, 1 1/16 miles, 3-year-old fillies

This one looks to have a small field. Bob Baffert is expected to bring Kalypso, third in the Las Virgenes (G3) after scoring in the Santa Ynez (G2). She has been in the money in each of her six starts. He also could bring Beautiful Gift, who has not raced since breaking her maiden on second try in October.

2021 Santa Ysabel (G3)

*Rating is based on HRN fan votes, which rank the Top Active Horses in training.

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