LEXINGTON, Ky. (February 7, 2020) – Each week, the NTRA will provide a guide to the best stakes races in North America and beyond. Races are listed in chronological order (all times Eastern). Full previews when available can be found through the link for each race.
This week sees Storm the Court, the 2019 Eclipse Award-winner for champion 2-year-old male, make his seasonal bow against five challengers in Sunday’s San Vicente Stakes at Santa Anita Park. Kentucky Derby implications are also at stake in Saturday’s Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs, the same card that features the 2020 debut of multiple Grade 1 winner Got Stormy in the Endeavour.
The New York Racing Association’s America’s Day at the Races, presented by America’s Best Racing, Runhappy and Claiborne Farm, will be providing nationwide coverage of the best racing from marquee venues around the country. Airing on FS2, and produced by NYRA, the telecasts begin on February 8 with a 3 1/2-hour show from 3 – 6:30 p.m. ET, providing live coverage of stakes action across the country from Aqueduct Racetrack, Oaklawn Park, Santa Anita Park and four stakes from Tampa Bay Downs.
Saturday February 8
3:59 p.m.—$175,000 Grade 2 Endeavour Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on TVG
Gary Barber’s 5-year-old mare Got Stormy, a 2019 Eclipse Award finalist for champion turf female, looms a massive favorite in the eight-horse Endeavour field. Got Stormy’s outstanding 2019 campaign included a victory in the Grade 1 Fourstardave Handicap against males at Saratoga, a victory in the Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes at Del Mar and a runner-up effort to eventual Eclipse Award winner Uni (GB) in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita. Mark Casse trains Got Stormy, who is 8-for-18 with career earnings of $1,430,578. The conditioner won both the Endeavour and the Hillsborough Stakes in 2016 with superstar Tepin.
4:59 p.m.—$175,000 Grade 3 Tampa Bay Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on TVG
The nine-horse field for the Tampa Bay Stakes is headed by Todd Pletcher-trainee Halladay, winner of the Tropical Park Derby last time out, and graded stakes winners March to the Arch and Caribou Club. March to the Arch most recently prevailed in the Sunshine Millions Turf Stakes at Gulfstream on January 18.
5:04 p.m.—$150,000 Grade 3 Suwannee River Stakes at Gulfstream Park on TVG
Blue Heaven Farm’s Starship Jubilee will seek to add another heartwarming chapter to her claimer-turned-Grade 1-stakes-winner fairy tale Saturday, when the 7-year-old mare returns to action in the Suwanee River. Claimed for $16,000 at Gulfstream February 12, 2017, Starship Jubilee has gone on to win eight stakes, including five graded stakes, and more than $1 million in purses. The Florida-bred daughter of Indy Wind, who has won nine of her 17 starts over the Gulfstream turf course, joined some elite fillies and mares when she captured the Grade 1 E. P. Taylor at Woodbine last October.
5:28 p.m.—$200,000 Grade 2 Las Virgenes Stakes at Santa Anita Park on TVG
A runaway 10 ¾ length maiden winner going 6 ½ furlongs on December 29, the Richard Baltas-trained Venetian Harbor heads a field of five sophomore fillies going one mile in Saturday’s Las Virgenes Stakes. Don Alberto Stables’ homebred Stellar Sound, who heads a three-horse contingent trained by Bob Baffert, will be trying two turns for the first time in what will be her fourth start.
5:29 p.m.—$250,000 Grade 3 Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs on TVG
Unbeaten Independence Hall drew the No. 4 post position for Saturday’s Sam F. Davis Stakes, part of the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” qualifying series, with points awarded to the top four finishers on a 10-4-2-1 scale. Independence Hall, who won the Grade 3 Nashua on November 3 at Aqueduct by 12 ¼ lengths and the Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct on January 1 by four lengths, will be racing around two turns for the first time in four career starts while carrying co-top weight of 122 pounds.
6:31 p.m.—$100,000 Grade 3 Thunder Road at Santa Anita Park on TVG
A winner of six of 11 starts over the Santa Anita lawn, Irish-bred River Boyne rates top billing among a wide-open field of 10 older horses in the Thunder Road Stakes at one mile on turf. Most recently third, beaten three lengths by Grade 1 winner Ohio in the one mile turf Cotton Fitzsimmons Stakes at Turf Paradise, River Boyne ran a huge third, beaten half a length, two starts back in the Grade 2 Seabiscuit Stakes at Del Mar November 30.
Sunday February 9
6:30 p.m.—$200,000 Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes at Santa Anita Park on TVG
Reigning Juvenile Male champion Storm the Court heads a field of six sophomore Derby hopefuls going seven furlongs Sunday as he makes his 3-year-old debut in the San Vicente Stakes. An upset winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile November 1, Storm the Court, who is conditioned by Peter Eurton, will be making his fifth career start and will again be ridden by Flavien Prat. Although Storm the Court is the marque horse of the moment, Bob Baffert’s Nadal, an impressive first-out maiden winner going 6 ½ furlongs, could well be the post time favorite.