Gulfstream Park will offers a pre-Florida Derby Day stakes appetizer while Santa Anita resumes racing for the first time in three weeks this coming Friday.
Hawkish, a promising three-year-old in the turf division last season when taking the Penn Mile (G2) convincingly, returns from a layoff of nearly nine months in the $100,000 Appleton (G3) at Gulfstream over one mile. The Jimmy Toner trainee was three-for-four heading into last July’s Belmont Derby (G1), but proved no factor when finishing a distant seventh to Catholic Boy.
Doctor Mounty and Krampus are both graded stakes winners at the current Gulfstream stand, with Doctor Mounty victorious in the January 12 Tropical Turf (G3) last out and Krampus a narrow victor of the March 2 Canadian Turf (G3) over the course and distance.
“He ran well,” trainer Bill Mott said of Krampus. “I like to give him a lot of rest between races. This gives him four weeks. We’ll see how he looks and how the race looks. He’s coming out of a win so we’re not pressed to run, but only if the situation looks good for him.”
Grade 2 heroine Santa Monica figures to be a solid favorite in the $100,000 Orchid (G3) for fillies and mares at 1 3/8 miles on the turf. The Chad Brown trainee captured the Dance Smartly (G2) last summer and has placed in the Sheepshead Bay (G2), Glens Falls (G2), E.P. Taylor (G1), and La Prevoyante (G3) in the last 12 months.
A potential threat is Homeland Security, who only placed eighth in the Glens Falls but who captured the $100,000 River Memories and $125,000 Zagora, both over 1 1/2 miles at Belmont Park for Brown last season. Friday marks her first start for trainer Christophe Clement after she was purchased by Moyglare Stud Farm at the Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale.
“She’s a stakes winner in New York so I knew the filly well because I raced against her last year. I like her,” Clement said. “She’s done everything right and she looks well. It’s a touch ambitious to come back in a graded stakes but she wants to go a mile and a quarter or more and we don’t have that many choices.”
Also in the field is Ickymasho, who nearly upset the The Very One (G3) at odds of 24-1 earlier this month.
Seven older horses were entered in the formerly graded $100,000 Skip Away at 1 3/16 miles on the main track. The field includes Rocketry, who captured the 1 3/4-mile Marathon (G2) on Breeders’ Cup weekend when last seen, and Harlan’s Holiday (G3) winner Sir Anthony.
An eight-race card awaits racing-starved fans in Southern California on the re-opening of Santa Anita on Friday. The feature is the $200,000 San Luis Rey for older horses at 1 1/2 miles on the turf.
Ashleyluvssugar, whose five previous Grade 2 tallies include the 2015 San Luis Rey, faces five others, including the San Marcos (G2)-placed Epical and Beach View.