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February 15: Stakes Picks & Previews

by Dustin Fabian

February 13, 2020

It’s another big weekend of racing, with major stakes at Gulfstream, Laurel, Santa Anita, the Fair Grounds and Golden Gate Fields. 

Ready to play them all? Xpressbet has you covered. We’ve got wagering and live video on all of the big races, as well as picks and analysis from top handicappers like Jeff Siegel, Jeremy Plonk, Jerry Shottenkirk and more. 

Plus, when you play this weekend I highly recommend checking out our Beat the Host Handicapping Tournament.  It’s FREE to enter and your bankroll consists of just ten $5 Win bets on top races from Gulfstream and Santa Anita. This week’s top performers split $2,000 in cash prizes. Plus, Beat our host, Tom Quigley from Santa Anita, to punch your ticket to the $16,000 Beat the Host Championship Round on Saturday, March 7.

And if you need some incentive to play – and a look at what Saturday’s big races are – I’ve got you covered.

Gulfstream Park

Gulfstream is always a great jumping off point for winter racing and Saturday’s 12-race card is no exception. The feature race is the G3, $150,000 Royal Delta Stakes (Race 11, 5:04PM ET). Named for the three-time Eclipse Award Champion and two-time Breeders’ Cup winner, the Royal Delta attracted a field of just six. On the bright side, it marks the return of G1 winner RESTLESS RIDER (last seen in the Kentucky Oaks) and G3 winner GOLDEN AWARD (last seen in November at Aqueduct).  Sprinkle in a pair of Saffie Joseph Jr. trained starters – COOKIE DOUGH and QUEEN NEKIA – and this should be a phenomenal betting race.

My colleague, Jeremy Plonk, also handicapped this race as our Xpressbet Race of the Week. Get his picks here.

1. Cookie Dough
2. Golden Award
3. Queen Nekia

Fair Grounds

The weekend’s top Kentucky Derby prep races run through the Fair Grounds on Saturday, with a pair of editions of the G2, $400,000 Risen Star which go as Races 12 (6:38PM ET) and 13 (7:12 PM ET).  In the first division, G3 LeComte winner, ENFORCEABLE, takes on SILVER STATE, MR. MONOMOY and SCABBARD, who finished 2nd, 3rd and 6th in that race. In the second division, California invader ANNEAU D’OR headlines a field that also includes runners from the potent barns of Bill Mott (MODERNIST), Ralph Nicks (LIAM’S LUCKY CHARM), Mark Casse (LYNN’S MAP) and Saffie Joseph Jr. (NY TRAFFIC). The card also includes the G3, $200,000 Mineshaft – Race 9 at 5:01PM ET – (including HOFBURG and SILVER DUST), the G3 $150,000 Fair Grounds Stakes – Race 10 at 5:32 PM ET – (starring SYNCHORNY and DONTBLAMEROCKET) and the G2, $300,000 Rachel Alexandra (Race 11, 6:05PM ET), featuring the return of BRITISH IDIOM. 

Risen Star Division 1 Picks

1. Silver State
2. Blackberry Wine
3. Enforceable

Risen Star Division 2 Picks

1. Liam’s Lucky Charm
2. Addeau d’Or
3. Mr. Big News

Santa Anita

Santa Anita’s Saturday feature is the G2, $200,000 Santa Monica (Race 8, 7:00PM ET) and what this race lacks in field size (just five entered) it makes up for in class. The one-eyed HARD NOT TO LOVE won the Opening Day G1 La Brea Stakes and is 4-for-5 at Santa Anita, making her a hard horse not to root for this weekend. MOTHER MOTHER was third in the La Brea (her first start since May) and she wheeled right back to win the Kalookan Queen for fun two weeks later over LADY NINJA, who is back for another crack. That daughter of Majesticperfection won the G3 LA Woman Stakes last October.

1. Mother Mother
2. Hard Note to Love
3. Lady Ninja

Laurel Park

Stakes races are the name of the game at Laurel on Saturday as the card is topped by the G3 $250,000 General George (Race 8, 3:49PM ET) and G3 $250,000 Barbara Fritchie (3:20PM ET). It also includes the $100,000 John B. Campbell (Race 4, 1:50PM ET), $100,000 Wide Country (Race 5, 2:18PM ET) and $100,000 Miracle Wood (Race 6, 2:51PM ET). So long story short, there’s no shortage of quality stakes horses set to compete. Entries include Firenze Fire (General George), Anna’s Bandit (Barbara Fritchie) and Alwaysmining (John Campbell). Plus, Laurel’s wager menu is a big draw. The card includes a pair of 12% Takeout Pick 5’s (Races 1-5 and Races 5-9).

Barbara Fritchie Picks

1. Saguaro Row
2. Anna’s Bandit
3. Majestic Reason

General George Picks

1. Wicked Trick
2. Firenze Fire
3. Tiz He the One

Golden Gate Fields

Saturday’s feature is the $100,000 El Camino Real Derby (Race 7, 6:45PM ET). The ‘Derby,’ a Preakness Stakes ‘Win and You’re In’ prep race, attracted a field of 11, headlined by Bob Baffert’s AZUL COAST and Richard Baltas’ CZECHMIGHT. By virtue of his runner-up performance in Santa Anita’s G3 Sham behind stablemate Authentic, AZUL COAST is probably going to be the favorite in this race. He brings jockey Rafael Bejarano with him and stands out on paper. The only pause is whether or not he a) handles Golden Gate’s synthetic surface and b) finds a pace to run at. Many races at Golden Gate are slow early/faster late and it can be tough for closers to find racing room for their kick.

Golden Gate’s Late Pick 4 is a 1 Million Point Split bet at Xpressbet. Hit it to win your share!

1. Azul Coast
2. Indian Peak
3. Czechmight