The pre-Christmas lull before the graded stakes storm doesn’t mean there aren’t any graded stakes in this weekend’s racing slate. Nor does it mean this weekend misses good storylines or top-shelf horses.
Take the Los Alamitos Futurity and the Mr. Prospector, your two graded stakes this weekend. Curious about potential Kentucky Derby prospects? The Futurity and the Springboard Mile have you covered.
And need a feel-good story? How about Maxfield returning for the first time in seven months? The one-time front-row Derby prospect, sidelined by injuries, returns to the gate this Saturday at Fair Grounds.
OG News takes a look at this weekend’s racing slate.
Springboard Mile, Friday, Remington Park
Yes, Oklahoma’s Remington Park isn’t the first track coming to mind when you think Derby preps. But 11 juveniles venture forth in search of 10-4-2-1 Derby points. Outadore, coming from Wesley Ward’s juvenile armada makes his dirt debut as the 3/1 morning line favorite. Outadore, who finished third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, meets Steve Asmussen’s Cowan, who finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint. Awaiting both are unbeaten Game Day Play, last seen winning the listed Clever Trevor Stakes, Joe Frazier and Saffa’s Day.
Los Alamitos Futurity, Saturday, Los Alamitos
The 2-year-olds in this Grade 2 Derby prep run 1 1/16 miles for their 10-4-2-1 Derby points. But they ring louder bells than the ones at Remington Park. There’s John Shirreffs’ Red Flag, currently 35/1 on both Circa Sports and William Hill’s Derby Futures boards. There’s Bob Baffert’s Classier (75/1 at Circa, 35/1 William Hill), attempting redemption for his eighth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. And there’s his stablemate, Spielberg, who gives Baffert another crack at his 13th Futurity title.
Mr. Prospector, Saturday, Gulfstream Park
This Grade 3, seven-furlong race could feature a Grade 1 duel between defending champion Diamond Oops and Firenze Fire. Last seen finishing third in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, the Kelly Breen-trained Firenze Fire parachutes into this race after scratching out of the Cigar Mile due to weather. As for Diamond Oops, the multiple Grade 2 winner finished three spots behind Firenze Fire in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Sleepy Eyes Todd, coming off his win in the Lafayette Stakes, and Lasting Legacy should figure into exotics.
Tenacious Stakes, Saturday, Fair Grounds
All eyes in this 1 1/16-mile listed stakes will be on Maxfield, who returns for the first time since he won the Grade 3 Matt Winn in May. One of the front-row Derby favorites, Maxfield suffered an injury during training that put him on the shelf for the second time. Since winning the 2019 Breeders’ Futurity, Maxfield has missed nearly 15 months with various injuries. While Maxfield expects to take most of the money, keep an eye on Locally Owned, who hit the board in 11 of 16 starts. Sonneman, who finished second in three of four starts since winning in April, adds further intrigue.