Last weekend, we took a small break from the Kentucky Derby Trail to feature some nice races on the turf at Gulfstream Park, as well as a pair of Grade 3 events at Santa Anita Park. The racing action was admittedly slower than normal over the weekend; however, there were still horses deserving of extra recognition. Let’s check out our latest Three Stars of the Week:
1. Doctor Mounty
Saturday’s running of the Grade 3 Tropical Turf Stakes was supposed to be all about the 8-year-old debut of fan favorite Heart to Heart. He was back at his favorite track after back-to-back losses to end 2018 while looking to get yet another big season kicked off on the right foot. Heart to Heart ran well, just not well enough, as he could not hold off a tremendous last charge down the lane by Doctor Mounty. After falling behind early, Doctor Mounty still looked in trouble on the turn, but he flew home late to catch the leader at the shadow of the wire before winning by a length in the end. This win gives the Street Sense horse a few options for later on in the meet, having proven that he belongs with graded stakes company.
2. Escape Clause
It was a wet and rainy weekend at Santa Anita Park, which is far from the norm as the Great Race Place. In what was seemingly a wide-open Grade 3 La Canada Stakes, it was the heavy favorite Escape Clause who made short work of the field. After sitting just off the lead in third, she pounced on her rivals at the top of the stretch before pouring it on down the lane for a 5 1/2-length victory over runner-up K P Wildcat. This was not the strongest running of the La Canada; however, with many of the big stars gone from this division, Escape Clause could be an up-and-coming older female this season.
The feature race of the weekend at Gulfstream Park was the Grade 3 Marshua’s River Stakes and seemed to be a very balanced field going into the race. The Todd Pletcher-trained Bellavais ended up coming out on top, thanks to a fantastic ride from jockey Javier Castellano. After stalking the early pacesetter, Castellano swept to the inside of his competition in the stretch and simply put away the other horses with ease, winning by 3 1/2 lengths. This win gets Bellavais back on track after a lackluster effort two races back. She should be ready to tackle bigger and better competition in her next start, with several big turf races still left during the Gulfstream Park meet.