It was Derby Day in both Ohio and Minnesota last weekend as big-time racing hit the small tracks at Thistledown and Canterbury Park. Of course, Belmont and Santa Anita ran great cards as well, and we also had Royal Ascot to enjoy all week long during the mornings. All in all. it was a packed week of non-stop action from morning to night. Now, let’s find out who made our Three Stars of the Week:
1. Core Beliefs
Just when you thought Justify couldn’t look any better! Before his Ohio Derby triumph, Core Beliefs was best known for running third to Justify in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby, but he changed that last Saturday with his first big win. Core Beliefs sat well off the pace in the Grade 3 Ohio Derby and was wide throughout the entire race. Entering the stretch, he came with a four-wide move and rallied home in the final strides to outlast Lone Sailor at the wire. A win like this will make him a player in races like the Grade 3 Indiana Derby now, and perhaps he can even take another shot against major company in the Grade 1 Haskell or Travers Stakes. This colt could be poised for a big second half of the season.
2. American Anthem
Trainer Bob Baffert seems to have a player in the sprint division once again this year as American Anthem is now 2-for-2 to start his 2018 season. Saturday’s Grade 2 San Carlos Stakes was not an easy win for him, but he dug down deep to just barely edge St. Joe Bay at the wire. The two horses were right beside each other for nearly the entire race, as St. Joe Bay set the pace with American Anthem stalking him right to his outside. Both horses ran well to the wire and were well clear of the other horses. With this win, American Anthem will likely point to Del Mar now with a race like the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Stakes in mind.
3. Sniper Kitten
Saturday night’s card at Canterbury Park provided great betting opportunities and high payouts as three top-quality turf races helped make the track’s biggest card of the year a memorable one. The feature race was the $200,000 Mystic Lake Derby, which boasted a 13-large field of 3-year-olds. In the end, Sniper Kitten picked up the victory, which was his first career stakes win. He tracked the leaders early in the race while sitting in sixth, then swung four-wide for the stretch drive turning for home. Jockey Tyler Gaffalione asked the colt for everything he had down the lane and the colt responded, soaring by everyone to win the race by 1 length. Trainer Mike Maker will now have several options for this lightly-raced horse and he should only improve off of this effort.