Aside from horse racing’s best days (Kentucky Oaks and Derby, the Breeders’ Cup, Preakness, Belmont, Travers), this Saturday might be the best Saturday of the year in terms of great races not all at one track.
Besides what Keeneland offers (picks here), the Derby trail has the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct (which has a bevy of other stakes, including the Carter Handicap) and the Santa Anita Derby at Santa Anita Park (where the best 3-year-old will be racing in the Santa Anita Oaks). Here are some picks for selected stakes races on this most wonderful of spring (non-Kentucky Derby) days.
Updated to reflect scratches
AQU Race 8 | Grade II Gazelle Stakes | 1 1/8 miles
1. Lewis Bay
2. Clair de Lune
3. Dreams to Reality
4. Mo d’Amour
Comment: Lewis Bay is bred for a route and already has won at the track and distance.
AQU Race 9 | Grade III Bay Shore Stakes | 7 furlongs
1. Cocked and Loaded
3. Awesome Gent
4. Never Gone South
Comment: Slight nod to Cocked and Loaded based partially on Rivelli’s choice to ship, but would use at least those four and possibly also Awesome Speed in the special Aqueduct-Keeneland stakes pick 4.
AQU Race 10 | Grade I Wood Memorial Stakes | 1 1/8 miles
2. Malt King Coal
Comment: Shagaf broke his maiden on the traditional Aqueduct track, has the breeding and has done nothing wrong.
AQU Race 11 | Grade I Carter Handicap | 7 furlongs
1. Salutos Amigos
2. Majestic Affair
3. Dads Caps
Comment: Salutos Amigos has shown proven speed ability on both coasts already this year.
SA Race 7 | Grade I Santa Anita Oaks | 1 1/16 miles
4. Forever Darling
Comment: The day’s biggest lock.
SA Race 8 | Grade I Santa Anita Derby | 1 1/8 miles
1. Mor Spirit
2. Danzing Candy
3. Uncle Lino
Comment: Mor Spirit benefits with a better trip and turns the tables on Danzing Candy from the San Felipe.