LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 8, 2019) – 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 weekend’s slate of racing features a trio of tests offering qualifying points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby: the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa Bay Downs, the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct, and the Grade 3 Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway Park. Live television coverage of the Gotham, Jeff Ruby, and Tampa Bay Derby will anchor the three-hour broadcast of “Fox Sports Saturday At the Races ” from 4-7 p.m. presented by America’s Best Racing, Runhappy and Claiborne Farm on FS2.
Saturday March 9
4:06 p.m.—$200,000 Grade 3 Tom Fool Handicap at Aqueduct on TVG
SJB Stable and Marcello Micozzi’s graded stakes winner Skyler’s Scramjet will look to repeat as the headliner of a seven-horse field in the Tom Fool for 4-year-olds and up going six furlongs. A 5-year-old gelding and son of Creative Cause, Skyler’s Scramjet won last year’s Tom Fool before earning a pair of second-place finishes in the Runhappy Stakes on May 12 at Belmont Park and the Gravesend Stakes at Aqueduct on December 23 in his 2018 campaign finale.
4:19 p.m. —$225,000 Grade 2 Hillsborough Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on TVG
Trainer Arnaud Delacour has high hopes that his 6-year-old mare Hawksmoor will wave goodbye to the competition the 1 1/8-miles Hillsborough Stakes on the turf at Tampa Bay Downs. Regardless of the outcome, the trainer will bid her farewell to the multiple graded stakes winner as owners Roy and Gretchen Jackson plan to breed her to 2018 North American leading sire Kitten’s Joy.
4:50 p.m. — $200,000 Grade 3 Florida Oaks at Tampa Bay Downs on TVG
A field of 11 3-year-old fillies are entered in the Florida Oaks including the usual strong contingent from the barn of three-time reigning Eclipse Award winning trainer Chad Brown. Brown has entered the French-bred La Feve and the Great Britain-bred Blowout. Other Florida Oaks entrants certain to attract attention are graded stakes winner Concrete Rose, trained by Rusty Arnold, and Elsa, a Grade 3 winner from the barn of Michael Stidham.
5:09 p.m.—$300,000 Grade 3 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct on FS2 and TVG
Grade 1 winners Mind Control and Knicks Go, along with undefeated California raider Instagrand, headline a formidable field of eight in the one-mile Gotham, which offers 50-20-10-5 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the first four finishers.
Mind Control, winner of the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes last September, made his Aqueduct debut a successful one on New Year’s Day, posting a frontrunning 1 ½-length victory in the Jerome Stakes. Instagrand, a $1.2 million purchase, posted a pair of double-digit victories in an abbreviated juvenile campaign romping on debut by 10 lengths at Los Alamitos ahead of a 10 ¼-lengths score on August 11 in the Grade 2 Best Pal Stakes, a six-furlong sprint at Del Mar.
5:25 p.m.—$400,000 Grade 2 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa Bay Downs on FS2 and TVG
Florida-bred colt Win Win Win, who set a Tampa Bay Downs seven-furlong track record of 1:20.89 in his Pasco Stakes victory on January 19, has been established as the 5-2 Tampa Bay Derby morning-line favorite. The second choice at 7-2 is the Florida-bred gelding Well Defined, who won the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes on February 9 at the Tampa Bay Derby distance of 1 1/16-miles.
5:40 p.m.—$250,000 Busher Stakes at Aqueduct on TVG
A pair of talented contenders for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin will look to earn points towards qualifying for the Kentucky Oaks, with It Justhitthe Wire and Enliven part of a talented 12-horse field in the $250,000 Busher Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. Offering 50-20-10-5 qualifying points for the Kentucky Oaks, the Busher will see It Justhitthe Wire make her stakes debut after a maiden-breaking 5 ¾-length win on a sloppy and sealed Gulfstream Park track on January 27 last out.
5:51 p.m.—$100,000 Maxim Crane Works Bourbonette Oaks at Turfway Park on TVG
Stakes winner Into Trouble makes her second start of 2019 in the Bourbonette Oaks, a Kentucky Oaks points race. Into Trouble won the Arlington-Washington Lassie Stakes over the all-weather surface at Arlington last September 8 and enters off a runner-up finish in the Gasparilla Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on January 19.
6:04 p.m.—$200,000 Grade 3 Honeybee Stakes at Oaklawn Park on TVG
Raintree Starlet will make her two-turn debut in the 1 1/16-mile Honeybee as the daughter of Get Stormy tries to extend her win streak to four straight. Already an Oaklawn stakes winner, Raintree Starlet captured the $100,000 Dixie Belle by a length February 16 and hasn’t lost since her December 8 career debut at Hawthorne when she finished third.
6:37 p.m.—$200,000 Grade 3 Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway Park on FS2 and TVG
Skychai Racing and Sand Dollar Stable’s Somelikeithotbrown, winner of the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes, has been installed as the 8-5 morning line favorite among a field of 11 entered for the 1 1/8 miles Jeff Ruby, which offers 34 points toward the Kentucky Derby. Skywire, who won his dirt debut by six lengths when an allowance optional claiming race at Gulfstream Park was taken off the turf, is the morning line second choice at 3-1.