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Saturday Stakes Spot Plays

by Dustin Fabian

February 15, 2018

It’s another big weekend in horse racing, with the Fair Grounds, Laurel, Gulfstream, Santa Anita and Golden Gate all featuring enticing cards with great betting opportunities.  At Xpressbet, we’re offering a 1 Million Point Split at Golden Gate in celebration of the El Camino Real Derby, Northern California’s premier Triple Crown prep race. 

Betting Saturday?  You know I am!  Here are six horses I’m looking forward to playing this weekend. 

Laurel Park (Race 9, 4:30PM ET) – General George Stakes (Gr III)
#4 It’s the Journey (6/1)

Local sprinter got on track very late in the Fire Plug Stakes last out when he was beaten just ½-length by Awesome Banner, who had the luxury of pressing a comfortable pace.  They add an extra furlong from that engagement and I think there’s value to be had this go around, as the New York shippers, Great Stuff and Do Share, will require some pace luck. 

Gulfstream Park (Race 11, 5:16PM ET) – Old Hickory Stakes
#8 Jay’s Way (3/1)

I may be the last person to come around on Jay’s Way, but I’m finally here.  Visually, I can’t get over how impressive his last two races were.  He started a few really nice horses in the eye – we’re talking Mr. Jordan, J Boys Echo and You’re to Blame – and he gutted out wins both times.  He never makes it look easy, but you can’t help but appreciate how he gets the job done.  Selfishly, I’d love to see the eight-year-old, Page McKenney, get back to his winning ways, but Father Time may have finally caught up with him. 

Fair Grounds (Race 8, 5:35PM ET) – Fair Grounds Handicap (Gr III)
#12 Catcho En Die (Arg) (8/1) 

He’s a Group 1 winner in Argentina and just ran 2nd down at Gulfstream off a 692-day layoff.  I like that Bill Mott is throwing him right into a stakes race off that promising run and it’s safe to assume he’ll take a step forward, having knocked the rust off last time.  He drew an unfortunate post, but is strong value at his ML price and is probably worth boxing in an Exacta with Mr. Misunderstood, Galton and Synchrony.

Santa Anita (Race 7, 6:00PM ET) – Buena Vista Stakes (Gr II)
#4 Madame Stripes (Arg) (3/1)

My colleague, Jeremy Plonk, is very high on Madame Stripes here and I’ll let him explain why.  Check out his Xpressbet Race of the Week column for more! 

Fair Grounds (Race 9, 6:03PM ET) – Risen Star Stakes (Gr II)
#5 Instilled Regard (8/5)

Jerry Hollendorfer-trainee has run huge in a pair of Kentucky Derby prep races, including a 3 ¾-length score in the Gr III Lecomte Stakes here last out and a near miss two back against McKinzie and Solomini in the Gr I Los Alamitos Futurity.  Pletcher’s Noble Indy is the primary target, but that one is light on experience.  Another threat, Asmussen’s Principe Guilherme, drew outside (again) and could do no better than a well-beaten second in the Lecomte.  Instilled Regard isn’t a massive standout in this crop, but he’s spotted very nicely here. 

Golden Gate (Race 7, 6:45PM ET) – El Camino Real Derby
#1 Paved (2/1)

A filly against the boys?  Sign me up!  This isn’t a deep field of Northern California stalwarts and the way Paved ran last out in the lawn at Santa Anita – winning by 5 ½-lengths – she’s up for the challenge.  It’s a big vote of confidence that Drayden Van Dyke makes the trip to San Francisco to ride her, and if she takes to the synthetic surface, she could be long gone.