Top Horse Racing Picks for Saturday, February 5, 2022

| February 4, 2022 11:55 am PDT

You want horse racing? Then prepare to be happy, because we’ve got a triple fistful of stakes races from Aqueduct Park, Gulfstream Park, and Santa Anita Park for our Saturday wagering entertainment.

The competition even includes two Kentucky Derby prep races, the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream and the Withers Stakes at Aqueduct. I cover eleven races in total instead of my usual nine, and surprisingly, I found a wealth of underdog moneymakers to make our bankrolls happy.

Oh, and remember that you can always find the full race-cards for all the tracks at our best horse racing wagering sites.

Good luck!

My Saturday Picks for Aqueduct Racetrack

Let’s start on the main track with race three, the Toboggan Stakes (Grade III), a $150,000 purse, seven-furlong run for four-year-olds and upward. With the morning-line favorite’s 1/5 lock on the win, it seems ill-advised to pick the second-favored entry in this five-horse race—but that’s just what I’m going to do: Bet on Hopeful Treasure, the 4/1 underdog ridden by Trevor McCarthy, to win.

While the favorite has posted some good speed figures in regular allowance and maiden races, Hopeful Treasure has been posting them in graded stakes races like his most recent, the Fall Highweight Handicap (Grade III) in November. For the record, the six-year-old moneyed ten of his 14 career starts, winning six.

Longtime horse racing veteran Michael L. Catalano, Jr. trains Hopeful Treasure for Just In Time Racing LLC.

Race seven is a one-mile allowance race on the main track for four-year-olds and upward.  My money’s on the front half of the 1/1A coupled entry: the 6/1 sleeper Starting Over, piloted by Kendrick Carmouche.

This five-year-old gelding finished in the money six of his nine career starts, winning one. He notably finished a hard-won third in the San Marcos Stakes (Grade II) last February at Santa Anita.

Robert N. Falcone, Jr. trains Starting Over for Nice Guys Stables.

Race eight is the Withers Stakes (Grade III), a $250,000 purse, 1-1/8 miles run on the main track for three-year-olds. The Withers Stakes is a prep race for the Kentucky Derby, and awards qualification points to the top four finishers (10-4-2-1).

I like the 9/2 underdog in this eleven-horse field: Courvoisier, with Ruben Silvera in the irons.

This colt finished all five of his career starts in the money, winning two, including his most recent—the Jerome Stakes (Listed) last month here at Aqueduct.

The two horses the morning-line thinks will prevail here have run nothing but maiden races, while Courvoisier provides solid—and recent—evidence that he can win at the stakes level. Advantage: Courvoisier.

Breeders’ Cup and Belmont Stakes veteran Kelly J. Breen trains Courvoisier for owners Hill ‘n’ Dale Equine Holdings, Inc. (J. G. Sikura) and James D. Spry.

Saturday Picks for Gulfstream Park

Let’s start with race five—the Claiborne Farm Swale Stakes (Grade III), a $100,000 purse, seven-furlong race for three-year-olds. I agree with the morning-line here: Buy a win ticket on the 3/1 favorite, My Prankster, with Luis Saez aboard.

This colt moneyed three of his four career starts, winning two—his initial maiden attempt at Saratoga, and his most recent run, an allowance race here at Gulfstream.

In between those, he finished fourth in the Champagne Stakes (Grade I) at Belmont in early October and then finished second in the Bowman Mill Stakes (Black Type) at Keeneland later that same month.

Hall of Famer Todd A. Pletcher trains My Prankster for owners Lawana L. Low and Robert E. Low.

We move to the turf course for race seven, the Kitten’s Joy Stakes (Grade III), a $100,000 purse, 1-1/16 miles grass run for three-year-olds. I’m calling this one for the second-favored (at 7/2) Red Danger, piloted by veteran jockey Julien R. Leparoux.

This colt finished in the money four of his six career starts, winning three, including the Global Tote Juvenile Sprint Stakes (Listed) at Kentucky Downs in September and the Pulpit Stakes (Listed) at Gulfstream in December.

He also finished second in the Street Sense Stakes (Listed) at Churchill Downs and fourth in the Castle & Key Bourbon Stakes (Grade II) at Keeneland, both in October.

Breeders’ Cup veteran Brian A. Lynch trains Red Danger for Silverton Hill LLC.

We’re back on the dirt track for race eight, the Forward Gal Stakes (Grade III), a $100,000 purse, seven-furlong run for three-year-old fillies. The Forward Gal Stakes is a prep race for the Kentucky Oaks, and awards qualification points to the top four finishers (10-4-2-1).

I’m betting my two dollars on the third-favored (at 9/2) Diamond Wow, ridden by Romero Ramsay Maragh.

This filly moneyed all three of her career starts, winning her initial maiden run here at Gulfstream in August, where she then went on to win the Our Dear Peggy Stakes (Black Type) in September. Oh, and she visited Keeneland in October long enough to finish second in the Jessamine Stakes (Grade II). She’ll do.

Patrick L. Biancone trains Diamond Wow for owners Diamond 100 Racing Club, LLC, Amy E. Dunne, and Patrick L. Biancone LLC.

Moving to the turf for race ten, we’ve got the Sweetest Chant Stakes (Grade III), a $100,000 purse, 1-1/16 miles run for three-year-old fillies.

In a surprisingly unimpressive ten-horse field, I’m backing the 9/2 underdog—Nostalgic, with top jockey Junior Alvarado in the irons.

This filly finished in the money for one of her two career starts, winning her initial maiden attempt in October, then finishing fourth in a field of eight at the Demoiselle Stakes (Grade II) in December at Aqueduct.

She earned that fourth place the hard way, breaking eighth and having to fight her way foir the next nine furlongs to finish fourth.

Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup legend William I. Mott trains Nostalgic for Godolphin, LLC.

Back on the dirt track for race eleven, we have the Holy Bull Stakes (Grade III), a $250,000, 1-1/16 miles race for three-year-olds. The Holy Bull Stakes is a prep race for the Kentucky Derby, and awards qualification points to the top four finishers (10-4-2-1).

While I’m impressed with the morning-line favorite’s record, I like the 6/1 underdog: Tiz the Bomb, piloted by Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr.

This colt moneyed all but one of his five career starts, and won three, including the Kentucky Downs Juvenile Mile Stakes (Black Type) in September and the Castle & Key Bourbon Stakes (Grade II) at Keeneland in October. He most recently finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (Grade I).

Ranked among the top trainers in North America for the past 22 years, Kenneth G. McPeek trains Tiz the Bomb for Phoenix Thoroughbred, LTD.

Saturday’s Picks for Santa Anita Park

We begin on the grass with race one, the Thunder Road Stakes (Grade III), a $100,000 purse, one-mile grass run for four-year-olds and upward. I agree with the morning line here, so I’m betting on the 8/5 favorite, Subconscious, with top jockey Juan J. Hernandez aboard.

Even in a talented field of six, this four-year-old gelding stands out, with five money finishes in seven career starts, three of those wins, including the Twilight Derby (Grade II) in October. He also finished fifth in a field of 14 at the Hollywood Derby (Grade I) at Del Mar in November.

Hall of Famer Richard E. Mandella trains Subconscious for LNJ Foxwoods.

On the dirt track for race seven, we’ve got the Santa Monica Stakes (Grade II), a $200,000 purse, seven-furlong race for fillies and mares four years old and upward. This is my no-brainer pick of the day: Bet the 3/5 morning-line favorite, Ce Ce, ridden by veteran jockey Victor Espinoza.

This six-year-old mare finished 12 of her 16 career starts in the money, winning eight, including most recent two: The Chillingworth Stakes (Grade III) here at Santa Anita in October, and the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (Grade I) at Del Mar in November.

Ce Ce has a long history of graded stakes wins. In 2020 she aced both the Apple Blossom Handicap (Grade I) at Oaklawn Park and the Beholder Mile Stakes (Grade I) here at Santa Anita.

Michael W. McCarthy trains Ce Ce for owner-breeder Bo Hirsch, LLC.

Race eight is the  San Pasqual Stakes (Grade II), a $200,000 purse, 1-1/8 miles dirt run for four-year-olds and upward. I’m betting my two dollars on the 2/1 morning-line favorite, Express Train, ridden by Victor Espinoza.

This five-year-old moneyed 12 of his 15 career starts, winning five. Three of those wins were in 2021:  the San Pasqual Stakes (Grade II) last January, the San Diego Handicap (Grade II) in July at Del Mar, and the San Antonio Stakes (Grade II) in December.

Does Express Train know how to win a Grade II stakes race? I submit that he does.

John A. Shirreffs trains Express Train for C R K Stable LLC. Shirreffs tapped Espinoza to saddle Express Train for his most recent victory in the San Antonio Stakes.

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J.W. Paine

J.W. Paine is one of the most experienced writers at He's written for television and the printed media, and is a published novelist (as Tom Elliott).

Paine loves writing about Las Vegas nearly as much he loves living here. An experienced gambler, he's especially familiar with thoroughbred horseracing, poker, blackjack, and slots.

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