Dixie Strike an Outside Shot in Azeri
Category : News
Fri 14/03/2014 - 13:47 EDT
Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas will be the place to watch and wager on this Saturday, with three graded-stakes races featured on the afternoon card. First up is the $200,000 Grade II Azeri Stakes, for fillies and mares aged four and up racing 1 1/16 miles on the dirt. Multiple graded-stakes winner Close Hatches will lead the field into the starting gate as the heavy morning line favorite at 7-5. Close Hatches is trained by Bill Mott and will be making her first start since running second in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff in November.
Favorite has a Grade I resume
Prior to that, she had won two straight Grade I events, taking the Cotillion at Parx and the Mother Goose at Belmont. She also captured the Grade II Gazelle last spring before running a disappointing seventh in the Kentucky Oaks. Second ML choice for the Azeri at 5-2 is Don’t Tell Sophia, a six-year-old who will carry high weight of 123 pounds. She’s two-for-two so far this year at Oaklawn with both wins coming in ungraded stakes. She does have a Grade II win on her record from last year, winning the Chilukki at Churchill Downs.
Others look to be improving
Offering a bit of a price is another making her 2014 debut in Flashy American (6-1). She finished 2013 just on the edges in a pair of graded-stakes, running fourth in the Grade I Zenyatta, and then improving to third in the Grade II Falls City Handicap, where she stretched out to 1 1/8 miles. Prior those two she had a pair of minor stakes wins. An outside longshot for the Azeri might be the Ontario-bred Dixie Strike. Although winless in two starts this year, she bounced back from a poor effort in the Pippin Stakes and ran a big one to finish second to Don’t Tell Sophia in the Bayakoa Stakes last out.
Players trying to look beyond prohibitive favorite Tepin in the September 17 Woodbine Mile will surely have their work cut out for them as the superstar mare tackles seven rivals on the grass.
The second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown goes Tuesday night from Fort Erie race track, where Sir Dudley Digges will try to take another step toward Canadian racing history.
On Sunday, Woodbine will host the $1 million Queen’s Plate Stakes, Canada’s most prestigious race. Restricted to horses foaled in Canada, the classic mile and a quarter contest has drawn a field of thirteen three-year-olds.
A spectacular card of graded stakes action has been assembled for Saturday at Belmont Park and the $1 million Ogden Phipps is shaping up to be one of the most competitive races of the day. The Grade 1 event for fillies and mares will be contested at a mile and a sixteenth.