The newly-turned 3-year-olds have already sprung into action in a big way. The first weekend in January is officially in the books, and with it, the running of two Kentucky Derby Prep Races to kick off 2019. Santa Anita and Gulfstream Park hosted all of the major racing action this weekend, so let’s find out how it all played out and check out our latest three stars:
The $100,000 Mucho Macho Man Stakes might not be a Kentucky Derby Points Race, but it is a major stepping stone towards the bigger Florida races later in the season. For Mihos, the race was a major coming-out party after impressively breaking his maiden in his last start. At first, it didn’t look good for Mihos, who fell to the back of field on the backstretch. He raced wide turning for home, but in midstretch, he finally got to the throat latch of the leader Trophy Chaser, then wore him down late for a neck win. He earned a Beyer of 90 for the victory, which was 8 points better than the number that Gunmetal Gray received winning the Grade 3 Sham Stakes.
She is BACK! After a very poorly-timed non-effort in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Stakes, Bellafina returned to the track in Sunday’s Grade 2 Santa Ynez Stakes and completely dominated her competition by 8 1/2 lengths. After stalking the pacesetting Mother Mother up the backstretch, Bellafina decided that it was time to put her away midway through the far turn. Straightening for home, she was already well in front, then just poured it on down the stretch in runaway fashion under a hand ride. This win undoubtedly stamps her as a top Kentucky Oaks contender. Look for her to stretch back out to two turns for her next race, which will likely be at Santa Anita, and with the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks being the ultimate goal.
3. Gunmetal Gray
The Grade 3 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita Park was supposed to be all about the next big Bob Baffert-trained horse, Coliseum, who was bet down to 3/5 favoritism as the gates flew open on Saturday. Instead, Coliseum was a no-show, but the Jerry Hollendorfer-trained Gunmetal Gray was able to take advantage and win. Much like Mihos, Gunmetal Gray fell way behind early on in the race, sitting in last place, then made a furious charge down the lane to pick up the win. Even though he was fanned out very wide on the turn, Gunmetal Gray was still able to cruise by the front-running Sueno before winning the race by 1 length. The win should set Gunmetal Gray up nicely for his next start which will be a stretch out in distance, where he is likely to excel.