There is stakes action from four venues on Attheraces Stateside on Saturday. Gulfstream and Santa Anita have the graded stakes quality. The trio of events from Florida are all competitive. The red hot Todd Pletcher has live chances in The Marshua's River (Grade 3) and Hal's Hope (Grade 3). The Grade 2 FT. Lauderdale sees defending champion Heart to Heart renew rivalry with last year's runner up Lukes Alley.
Whilst all that goes on in America, particularly recently is not good. It is hard not to be impressed with the merits of their claiming system compared to our handicaps. As well as discouraging cheating, the sharp operators can find some real bargains. Royal Posse was claimed by trainer Rudy Rodriguez for $20,000 in May 2015. He's not been out of the exacta in 14 starts since with eight victories, most in stakes. He's earned connections over $800,000 in that time. They are likely to earn the lion's share of $125,000 as the favourite in Aqueduct's Jazil Stake at Aqueduct.
PAUL'S ANALYSIS FROM Aqueduct, Gulfstream Park, Santa Anita and Turf Paradise
Saturday 14 January 2017
Aqueduct Race 3 (6.20pm)
The Ruthless - A stake for 3 year old fillies - 6 Furlongs - Dirt
Yorkiepoo Princess (5) has this events two best efforts either side of a poor run on turf. The first was a dozen length maiden breaker over a mile at Belmont. Latterly, she went wire to wire over today's distance to win a stake here. Although both her victories have come in frontrunning fashion, she ran a promising debut from off the pace in August.
Yorkiepoo Princess has to give weight all round and she does meet some lightly raced and likely improvers. Treatherlikestar (3), Bride Street (2) and Waves of Blue (4) all were successful on their only starts to date. The last named ran decent speed figures and could have better to come.
Banty's Girl (1) broke her maiden on her return. She and former Tiz Rae Anna (6) have the ability to pass horses in the straight. As a quartet of these were on the front end last time, the chances of a speed duel and the pair being a factor late are pretty decent.
Yorkiepoo Princess (5)
Aqueduct Race 5 (7.20pm)
The Jazil - A stake for 4 year olds and upwards - 1 Mile 70 yards - Dirt
Royal Posse (3) is likely to be warm order here. He's on a stakes five timer and hasn't been out of the exacta in 14 starts since being claimed by Rudy Rodriguez in May 2015. He is reunited with Irad Ortiz Jr. who knows him very well. The only knock on his chances is possibly being parked behind slow fractions over a distance short of his best. That was the reason for his three length defeat in this race last year to runner who had more speed.
Doyouknowsomething (6) ran a career best when wiring an allowance field here last month. The runner up franked the form by winning next time. He has form when not on the lead but not quite as strong. Res Judicata (1) has speed. So too has Bay of Plenty (4). He has to rebound after running a shocker in a stake last month. Sunny Ridge (2) ran a below form third tn that event. He has a Grade 3 victory on the inner dirt to his name.
Royal Posse (3)
Gulfstream Park Race 6 (7.30pm)
The Marshua's River (Grade 3) - Fillies and Mares - 4 year olds and upwards - 1 1/16 Miles - Turf
This would be a great race to play in running. If Isabella Sings (7) gets an easy lead, she'll be difficult to catch. If she gets pace pressure from the likes of Dickinson (8), barn mate Sandiva (3) and Sea Coast (5) are likely to fight this out. Isabella Sings comes off a wire to wire victory in a Grade 3 from Sea Coast. She set even fractions and the runner up did well to get within two lengths of her. The frontrunner is now unbeaten in four starts over today's distance.
Sandiva (3) should be all the better for a recent comeback run last month. She hadn't raced since The Grade 1 Diana at Saratoga in July. The six year old has a fine record on this turf course and won this event in 2016. She has tactical speed and may be the beneficiary if Isabella Sings comes back late on.
Dickinson (8) really inproved in the second half of last year when Kiaran McLaughlin tried her on turf. She won back to back allowance events convincingly. The Godolphin owned mare is well with place in this line up. Jockey John Velazquez must avoid a speed duel with Isabella Sings.
Turf Paradise Race 4 (9.10pm)
The Glendale Handicap - Fillies and Mares - 4 year olds and upwards - 1 1/16 Miles - Turf
Ronda Rocks (7) has been first past the post in three starts since moving to Turf Paradise and put back on the turf. The second was a stakes event with a few of these behind her. Last month she won an allowance prep for this. It was only by a neck from French Alps (3) with Hip Ninety Three (11) the same distance away in third. They were well clear of the rest. Ronda Rocks made all last time but was ridden more patiently the time before.
French Alps (3) may be set for her best on her third start back after a lay off. Hip Ninety Three (11) has obvious claims but has a tricky draw this time.
Complimentary (4) could be the best of the new faces. She won an allowance event last month and has faster back races from California.
French Alps (3)
Reversed Exacta (2 bets): French Alps (3) and Ronda Rocks (7)
Gulfstream Park Race 10 (9.34pm)
The FT. Lauderdale (Grade 2) - 4 year olds and upwards - 1 1/16 Miles - Turf
Heart to Heart (1) won this race last year by half a length from Lukes Alley (6). His rider set even fractions. That may not be the case here as he has potential pace partners in Diamond Bachelor (3) and Macagone (11). That should give his old rival a decent shot at reversing the placings. Lukes Alley went one better in The Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap a month later. He wasn't seen out until November when he ran evenly in a Grade 2 on Tapeta. He and comebacking Grade 1 winner Divisidero (7) are likely to be at a peak for that Grade 1 next month. That doesn't mean they won't contend here.
Night Prowler (2) ran third to Macagone (11) in a stake in November. Prior to that, he beat barn mate Almanaar (8) in an allowance event. He was a dual Group 3 winner in France for Freddy Head and he's not shown that form in two starts Stateside. A spell in Florida may have done him good and the fact that Chad Brown has entered him here seems a positive.
Rose Brier (5) was first past the post in a Grade 3 in November. Fire Away (12) is a five year old with little miles on the clock. He is progressive and is worth a shot in a stakes events.
Gulfstream Park Race 11 (10.05pm)
The Hal's Hope (Grade 3) - 4 year olds and upwards - 1 Mile - Dirt
Tommy Macho (2) ran a career best when winning a Grade 3 over course and distance last February. He wasn't seen out until the back end where he ran well below that form in a pair of stakes. Many of Todd Pletcher's horses excel at Gulfstream but not when they ship back north. He can be fancied in this race on that fact alone bearing in mind his trainer is winning locally at a 33% clip.
Mr. Jordan (8) returned to Florida and won a state bred stake easily in November. He has form and a victory in graded stakes company. The worry with him is his best form has come over two turns. The last time raced over a one turn mile, he ran poorly in this race last year. Conversely, Realm (4) has looked improved since trying a one turn configuration. A wide margin allowance victory was followed by a fine third in The Grade 1 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct. Three horses that finished behind him that day have won their next starts.
Bird Song (3) and Dolphus (1) come off career bests when winning under allowance conditions. In the case of the latter, his freakish effort may have been down to the sloppy track.
Tommy Macho (2)
Reversed Exacta (2 bets): Tommy Macho (2) and Realm (4)
Santa Anita Park Race 5 (10.30pm)
The La Canada (Grade 2) - Fillies and Mares - 4 year olds and upwards - 1 1/16 Miles - Dirt
The globetrotting Vale Dori (1) faces a simple task here, at least on paper. She has won three times since joining Bob Baffert from Mike de Kock in the middle of last year. Last month, she won a Grade 2 at Del Mar giving weight and a three length beating to Wild At Heart (3). That mare was stretching out from sprints and faded late on after being almost upsides with Vale Dori early in the straight. Vale Dori has an adaptable running style and is likely to go to the lead here.
Show Stealer (2) and Autumn Flower (5) were well held fourth and sixth respectively behind the rail drawn mare last month. Enduring Erin (4) has shown improved form since being claimed for $40,000 last July. She has won a pair of allowance optional claimers either side of running third to Autumn Flower.
Vale Dori (1)
Turf Paradise Race 7 (10.44pm)
The Cotton Fitzsimmons Mile Handicap - A stake for 4 year olds and upwards - 1 Mile - Turf
Southern California raider Power Ped (1) is the one to beat here. He's ran big in allowance events at Keeneland and Del Mar since he returned in October. The seven year old has a modest win record but he has been facing graded stakes company in the last few years. In his one visit here, he won this race in 2015.
Power Ped will have to bring his A game as he faces a talented group of locals. Ride Hard Kowboy (5) is one of them. He won a stake on his last try on turf in November. It was in a blanket finish from Charlie Again (8) and Aventador (7) with Red Zeus (10) beaten two lengths in sixth. Blue Bomber (3) was a below par eight after dueling in quick fractions. He's dangerous when at his best. His barn mate Storm Power (6) has been running in sprints on dirt. He has won a stake over this trip on turf in the past.
Power Ped (1)