Agate Road launched an impressive rally from behind a slow pace in a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight at Saratoga last time out, gaining 5 3/4 lengths through the final furlong alone to prevail by a neck. The beautifully bred Todd Pletcher trainee looms as a logical win threat while stepping into the stakes ranks for Wednesday’s seventh race at Belmont at the Big A, the Pilgrim (G2, post time 4:14 p.m.).
Speedy Woody Stephens (G1) winner Arabian Lion faltered to third place in the H. Allen Jerkens Memorial (G1) last month, but perhaps he can bounce back while facing older horses for the first time in Saturday’s sixth race at Santa Anita, the Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G2, post time 6:37 p.m.). He enters off strong workouts and has the Brisnet Speed ratings to challenge on his best day.
Cody’s Wish ran below form when stretching out over 1 1/8 miles for the Whitney (G1), finishing third. But last year’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) winner has been highly effective racing around one turn and should be mighty tough to beat while cutting back to seven furlongs for Sunday’s third race at Belmont at the Big A, the Vosburgh (G2, post time 1:09 p.m.).
A key challenger to Arabian Lion in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship is Dr. Schivel, who wired this six-furlong sprint by 3 1/4 lengths in 2021. Most recently third by a neck in the Bing Crosby (G1) at Del Mar, Dr. Schivel is gradually rounding back into top form and shouldn’t be underestimated.
Seven straight victories, including six stakes and four graded stakes. Eda has been unstoppable dating back to October 2021, and recent victories in the Great Lady M (G2) and Rancho Bernardo Handicap (G3) stamp the Bob Baffert trainee as the filly to beat in Friday’s eighth race at Santa Anita, the Chillingworth (G3, post time 7:36 p.m.).
Speed Boat Beach
A wildcard in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship field is Speed Boat Beach, who hasn’t raced since winning the 2022 Cecil B. DeMille (G3) racing one mile on turf. But Speed Boat Beach enters off fast workouts for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, and his lone dirt start produced a track-record-setting debut victory in a 5 1/2-furlong maiden special weight at Del Mar, so don’t be surprised if Speed Boat Beach proves very competitive in his return to action.
War Like Goddess
A fever caused War Like Goddess to miss some training time and an intended start in the Flower Bowl (G2) at Saratoga, but the accomplished long-distance grass mare is back in the entries for Sunday’s sixth race at Belmont at the Big A, the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (G1). She’s facing a deep field of male rivals led by 2022 Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Rebel’s Romance, but War Like Goddess won this race last year and rarely runs a bad race. A competitive showing should be in the offing.
Which horses do you have your eyes on?
In this biweekly series, racing analyst J. Keeler Johnson shares promising horses from his handicapping watch list, reviewing runners who have recently caught his eye and previewing horses scheduled to run back in the near future.