Saturday Stakes Look February 27th, 2021
Two key Kentucky Derby points races will get a lot of attention on Saturday. The Fountain of Youth will be run at Gulfstream Park, and The Southwest will be run at Oaklawn Park. Both races figure to have an impact on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, and both offer alternatives to the likely heavy favorites.
Last week we were fortunate enough to peg Mishriff as a potential up-setter to the two big favorites in The Saudi Cup, Charlatan and Knicks Go, so we will see if we can do it again on Saturday.
At Gulfstream Drain the Clock goes from the rail, and looks like Edgard Zayas will have him on the lead and saving ground into the first turn of the Fountain of Youth. We all know Gulfstream can be very kind to this style of play, and this colt by Maclean’s Music, who I think is an excellent and also underrated sire, has won every race he has finished. His lone loss was at Delta Downs when his iron broke, and he lost his rider.
It doesn’t look like anyone is fast enough to run with him into that first turn unless something funny happens at the break or Zayas employs a change in tactics. I have to view him as a legitimate threat to take these all the way. He should be able to clear these, and he also should be able to get this distance under these circumstances.
There is no question in my mind Greatest Honour is a nice horse and a deserving favorite off his last race, an easy win in The Holy Bull over this track. That said, he is not the one I think has the best chance of beating Drain the Clock.
I like Fire at Will, and I think I may have been one of the first to peg him as a legit Kentucky Derby contender. I have him in my top five, maybe top three early contenders. Sure, he looks like a turf horse, a good one at that, as he won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. He also won an off the turf stake at Saratoga last summer as a two-year-old. He is a Declaration of War out of a Kitten’s Joy. He should run on anything. He has a nice turn of foot, and I expect him to rally into and run at the speed. The pace scenario won’t do him any favors, nor will the Gulfstream oval and dirt, but quality is quality, and I believe he has it.
In The Southwest it looks like it will be a bit more difficult to land on a nice price. Essential Quality looks to be the goods and a worthy favorite. The track at Oaklawn was closed for a bit due to the bad weather and this race was actually postponed. Essential Quality was at the Fair Grounds, however and likely did not miss any training. That could be advantageous, not that he needs any edge here. The main knock is he will have to rally into a short stretch from off the pace. How the track is playing is key here.
Jackie’s Warrior is somewhat of a forgotten horse that many believe can’t or won’t get two turns. He has also been at the Fair Grounds, so he probably didn’t miss any training. As is Fire at Will, he is also by Maclean’s Music. Maclean’s Music has already sired a Preakness winner in Cloud Computing, and I do not think Jackie’s Warrior is incapable of going two turns, especially under favorable circumstances. He should be the speed of this race, and Joel Rosario sticks with him and makes the flight from California. As much as I like and respect Essential Quality and I do, I think Jackie’s Warrior can give him all he can handle on Saturday and get to that short stretch Oaklawn wire first.
Bob Baffert sends Spielberg to The Southwest, and when Bob sends one to Oaklawn, you do not have to know or say anything else. Last Samurai will be overlooked and a huge price. It will not surprise me if he sneaks into the exotics somewhere.
Enjoy the races, win the photos, and cash your tickets!