News and STORIES
The Weekend That Was
Author: Ryan Knuppel
Published: Tuesday March 16, 2021
Saturday’s featured races, the Grade 1 Beholder Mile and the Grade 2 Rebel, while lacking drama, showcased two of the better performances we have seen this year.
Swiss Skydiver and Concert Tour highlighted a great day of racing at Oaklawn and Santa Anita. Ken McPeek’s Swiss Skydiver dominated her peers with a “loaded” 3 length win in the Grade 1 Beholder Mile. Robby Albarado broke well from the rail, gave light urging to put her in the race, and rated just behind Golden Principle and inside Harvest Moon.
Albarado waited for room at the top of the stretch and then exploded past the competition underhand, urging to coast to victory. Bob Baffert’s As Time Goes By got up for second with an impressive showing first time against the graded competition. Swiss Skydiver earned a 101 Buyer Speed Figure en route to her third Grade 1 race. She is now 7 for 13 in her career with $2M+ lifetime earnings. She appears to be the main threat to Monomoy Girl in the older dirt female division. The two are tentatively set to face off in 4 weeks in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom Stakes at Oaklawn Park.
Concert Tour coasted to victory to give trainer Bob Baffert his 8th Rebel Stakes victory. Concert Tour, the three-year-old son of Street Sense out of a Purse Strings mare, tried two turns for the first time in his early career and passed the test with ease. Joel Rosario and Concert Tour flew from the starting gate, outbreaking race favorite Caddo River for the lead.
Entering the backstretch, Rosario had the rail and the lead sitting motionless. Upon reaching the final turn, Rosario shook the reins, and Concert Tour went to another gear widening his margin with no urging. Rosario was a statue the final 1/16th of a mile, and Concert Tour was never asked for his best. His five-length victory over stablemate Hozier cements his status as a strong Derby contender.
Concert Tour earned a 94 Buyer Speed Figure and 50 points towards a Kentucky Derby birth. Concert Tour and Hozier head back to California and with plans yet to be determined. Concert Tour and Hozier give Baffert a formidable 1-2-3 punch to go along with Derby Future favorite Life Is Good.
Oaklawn Park’s 12 race card on Saturday featured 5 stakes races and offered tremendous betting opportunities. Steve Asmussen trained Silver State (6/5) held off Rated R Superstar in the 500K Essex Stakes. 2020 Kentucky Oaks winner Shedaresthedevil (6/5) and Letruska put on a show in the Grade 2 Azeri.
The G1 winning Brad Cox trained filly dug in gamely and held off the resilient Letruska to capture the victory and kick off her 2021 campaign. Carlos L and jockey Alex Cancahri blew up the tote board in the Temperence Hill Stakes, paying $97.40 to win. Peter Miller trained CZ Rocket (5/2), ran down sprinting champion, and Oaklawn Park legend Whitmore to capture the Hot Springs Stakes.
Leading trainer Steve Asmussen picked up 3 winners, and Jockeys Florent Geroux and Ricardo Santana Jr. each piloted 3 winners Saturday. Oaklawn’s handle neared $16 Million while enjoying on-site attendance in both the grandstands and infield. The $.50 late Pick 5 (races 8-12) brought back $12,539.
Upcoming Races to Watch
This weekend all eyes head south to New Orleans as eight stakes races (four graded) highlight the 2020-2021 Fair Grounds meet. The $1M Twinspires Derby (G2) and the $400K Twinspires Oaks (G2) will feature full fields and historically great betting opportunities.
Brad Cox swept the 2020 Oaks/Derby with Wells Bayou and Bonny South Munnings. Expect Cox and Asmussen to each saddle contender in both races this year.
Finally, solid racing action continues Monday through Wednesday at Parx, Mahoning, Delta, and Turf Paradise. Delta offers two pick 5 sequences, while Mahoning has a pick 6 jackpot of 175K+ as well as an early pick 5.