What to watch for: American Anthem heads east for new barn

January 14, 2020 10:26am

Fair Grounds' stakes-packed card led by the Lecomte (G3) has already drawn, but there's more to look forward to heading into the weekend. Among the highlights: American Anthem, three times a graded stakes winner when based on the west coast for trainer Bob Baffert, is expected back in the entries for his new barn.

Here's what to watch for, with probables provided by tracks' respective racing offices...

Toboggan (G3)

Aqueduct's Saturday feature marks the return of Grade 1 winner Mind Control, who counts among his prestigious future targets the Carter (G1) and possibly Met Mile (G1). For the connections of Red Oak Stable and Madaket Stables, the Gregg Sacco trainee has worked consistently all winter in New York toward this seven-furlong return.

He'll face some top company in American Anthem, picked up for $145,000 out of Keeneland's November sale and transferred to trainer Danny Gargan. The winner of the 2017 Laz Barrera (G3) and Woody Stephens (G2), along with the 2018 San Carlos (G2), ran both short and long for the Baffert barn.

A 6-year-old by Bodemeister, American Anthem counted his only victory of 2019 in allowance optional claiming company. But a change of scenery could benefit him, and the new connections appear to have high expectations, including him among entries released Tuesday for the Feb. 29 Riyadh Dirt Sprint, a $1.5 million race on Feb. 29 in Saudi Arabia.

The Toboggan looks to be coming up strong with stakes winners Sunny Ridge, Still Having Fun and Bon Raison also in the mix. Entries will be taken Wednesday.

Sunshine Millions Classic

The most lucrative of four Florida-bred stakes offered on Saturday's Gulfstream Park program welcomes the Millions Classic Preview winner, Red Crescent, who proved his class a bit when going on to be fourth in the Harlan's Holiday (G3) most recently against open company.

A 6-year-old by Overdriven, Red Crescent has been in and out of stakes company his entire 42-race career, but his speed figures are on the rise in recent starts. He looks like the one to beat in this 1 1/8-mile event.

Tap the Mojo, a 5-year-old from the Mark Casse barn, is another notable in what could be a short field. He made his first eight starts at Woodbine but jumped way up Dec. 29 in a dirt debut at Gulfstream, winning in allowance company by four lengths.

California Cup Derby

A race that has produced a Kentucky Derby hopeful here and there lacks a standout, on paper, heading into Saturday at Santa Anita Park. That's not to say one won't still be able to emerge in this feature on a card with four other California-bred stakes.

Craig Lewis-trained Club Aspen saw his jockey lose his whip and a big lead nearly evaporate the last time Cal-breds in this division met. But he ultimately coasted in Los Alamitos' Dec. 15 King Glorious for an upset as the second-longest shot in that field.

Among the fresh faces he'll go up against in this 1 1/16-mile event is Rookie Mistake for the familiar connections of Reddam Racing and trainer Doug O'Neill. By Square Eddie, Rookie Mistake started in stakes before his broke his maiden but finally did get that first victory back on Jan. 3. That, however, was going 5 1/2 furlongs. He'll stretch out significantly on Saturday but should take money.


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