Normally, with a title like this one, I would be talking about the races taking place this weekend, but no, I will be jumping ahead one week to look at the races taking place on Feb 6 and 7. Of course Saturday looks to be the more enticing at first glance, but Sunday's Hallandale Beach Stakes marks the return of Interactif, the most promising juvenile on turf, last year. Interactif is a monster on turf and will likely be the favorite. However, Interactif will not be the only horse to get some attention, in fact the spotlight might be stolen, with the robber being Barbaro's little brother Lentenor. Should Lentenor start he will have to overcome being wheeled back in less than three weeks. On Saturday, the spotlight will be on the Donn, the race where Quality Road will get the chance to show that he really is back and ready to rock and roll. Another race to watch will be the Whirlaway stakes, where the flashy Eightyfiveinafifty will attempt to stretch his speed going two turns.
The Donn of course will take up all the media on the east coast, but out west the eagerly anticipated return of American Lion will final arrive in the Robert B Lewis. The colt has been off for a couple of months and it will be interesting to see how he handles the layoff. The Strub and San Antonio probable fields also seem to present some interesting betting opportunities. Both are wide open fields with favoritism falling upon Misremembered in the Strub and most likely Richards Kid or Mast Track in the San Antonio.
Though I will probably be watching all of these races, the ones I look forward to most are the Donn, Whirlaway, Hallandale (shall Lentenor be included in the field), and the Robert B. Lewis. To start off racing Line up I will refresh your minds on the potential top two in the Hallandale Stakes. Interactif will most likely be the betting favorite, and rightfully so.
As a juvenile, Interactif won his first race over the main track, but when things went south in the Sanford, where he was cooked by a fast pace and faded to a well beaten eighth, he was switched to the lawn, where he dominated. In his first start on the green, in the With Anticipation, Interactif exploded coming off the turn, opening up daylight and won with authority. His next start, the Bourbon was also extremely impressive. The talented colt raced wide throughout the entire race and still showed the same explosive turn of foot that he displayed in the With Anticipation. He ended his year with a third in the BCJ Turf to Bridgetown and the very talented Pounced.
Lentenor had been showing raw ability from his very first race, but in his first start he got blocked up in the stretch and in his second he just couldn't get by his opponent. This year, however, the colt busted the race wide open, winning impressively, drawing off to win by three and a half lengths. The handsome colt could be the sentimental favorite, should he be entered.
In the Donn, Quality Road needs to win and win with some flash in order to silence some of his detractors, who will tell you the colt is not the same horse that he was as a three year old. This line of thinking comes from his less than flashing Hal's Hope win. From my perspective, I see a horse who pretty much won in his sleep, which would explain for the lack of flash. Yes, he did now wow us with blistering fractions or a track record, but why would he when the major goal was is the Donn? In my opinion he won with ease, never really was tested and should be ready to blow the field wide open, in the Donn.
In the Whirlaway, I will be watching intently to see if Eightyfiveinafifty is for real. In his last race, a maiden, he literally blew the field away, running away to ultra impressive 17 length score. Of course, that race was a the sprinting distance of six furlongs and the Whirlaway is 8.5 furlongs, meaning he will have to stretch his speed out for more than a quarter mile longer. However if his works are any indication of how he will perform, he should be up to the task.
My most anticipated race is the Robert B. Lewis, and it's not just because of American Lion, it's who he may be facing. With the possible addition of Tiz Chrome, this race will be any Tiznow fan's dream race. Both colts have won impressively, both are impressive in stature and looks, and both are immensely talented. Tiz Chrome is trained by Bob Baffert, who fired two shots at American Lion in the Hollywood Prevue and missed. Now he sends out his promising, and flashy Tiz Chrome. It is a battle of the Tiznows, and I for one am eagerly anticipating the match up.