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Last weekend was very light compared to what’s about to happen in the weeks to come, but we still saw a few performances that deserve recognition. Gulfstream Park hosted the biggest race of the weekend, the Grade 3 Hal’s Hope Stakes, while Santa Anita and Oaklawn Park had quality racing as well. Check out who made our Three Stars of the Week:
Fellow Racing Dude Jared Welch described this race as a “reunion tour” on last week’s podcast with so many horses coming back off of layoffs. In the end, it was a comeback horse that won the race, as Economic Model took home the victory. He stalked the leaders early before taking the lead at the top of the stretch, and from there, the race was on between he and Irish War Cry, who swung up to his throat latch. However, Economic Model never let him get by, eventually pulling away to win by over a length. This race could be a springboard to a solid 2018 for both horses.
It’s safe to say that Conquest Tsunami loves the downhill turf course as Santa Anita. He was successful in his first trip over the surface in an allowance event on January 20, and he parlayed that win into another in the Grade 3 Daytona Stakes last Saturday. In both races, Conquest Tsunami went straight to the front and never trailed during any point in the race while pulling away from his challengers late. After two performances like that, there’s no reason to think he won’t be a major force at Santa Anita all year long.
The $125,000 Gazebo Stakes was supposed to be a walk in the park for the heavily-favored Mitole, but Bourne in Nixa had other ideas. Mitole went to his knees out of the break, but was quickly rushed up into the top flight of horses. He joined stablemate Direct Dial on the front end, and those two went at it the whole way around the track while jockey Roman Vazquez set well off the pace aboard Bourne in Nixa. In the stretch, Vazquez made his move on the leaders, and Bourne in Nixa passed the front-running duo with ease to win by nearly 2 lengths. This race could springboard the horse into tougher sprint stakes down the road, and the win avenges a poor effort last time out at Delta Downs.
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