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Friday, February 18, 2005

Saturday Stakes

- Four graded stakes coming up on Saturday, highlighted by the return of Madcap Escapade.

- Santa Anita - San Luis Obispo – Grade 2 – 1/1/2 miles – License To Run (Exile King) went nowhere at 4-5 in the G2 San Marcos, but returns to 12 furlongs, the distance at which he missed by only a neck in finishing third in the Hollywood Turf Cup in December, and won a Brazilian Grade 1; and he switches to Patrick Valenzuela. Nine year old Continental Red (Flying Continental) is a graded winner with a solid record at this distance who usually makes a go of it. While these two should be the top betting choices, T.H. Approval (With Approval) is a 4 year old who has improved markedly over the last few months; he won at this distance in a NW1, and ran a good third, ahead of License to Run, in the San Marcos.

- Laurel – Barbara Fritchie Handicap – G2 – 7 furlongs – Bear Fan (Pine Bluff) tries to make amends for his defeat at 2-5 on Sunshine Millions day.

- Gulfstream – Shirley Jones Handicap – G2 – 7 furlongs – The long awaited return of Madcap Escapade (Hennessey), the fleet filly who defeated eventual 3 yo filly champ Ashado in the G1 Ashland, before running third to her when injuring herself in the Kentucky Oaks. Not a simple spot for her return – she’ll have to get going from the rail at 7 furlongs, and doesn’t figure to get much of a breather with D’Wildcat Speed (Forest Wildcat) and Sunshine Millions Sprint winner Alix M (End Sweep) expected to press or stalk her. The latter has never finished out of the money in ten starts. Society Selection (Coronado’s Quest) would be the one who would figure to pick up the pieces if the leaders falter; she won two Grade 1s at Saratoga last summer, both in the mud, and she hasn’t won since finishing up the track in the BC Distaff; she's worked well, but so has Madcap Escapade. I guess I'm trying to say I'm not crazy about her here.

- Fair Grounds – The Bayou Breeders’ Cup Handicap – G3 – 1 1/8 miles turf This looks like it could be a pretty good betting race, the best of the four. I think I'll come back to this one later.