Two one-hundred grand stakes, the Phoenix Gold Cup and the Cotton Fitzsimmons Mile, top a five Stakes Super Saturday March 11 at Turf Paradise.
The Phoenix Gold Cup at six furlongs and the Cotton Fitzsimmons at one mile on the turf, will be complemented by the $60,000 Queen of the Green and two seventy-five grand stakes for three-year-olds, the Arizona Oaks at one mile and the Turf Paradise Derby at 1 1/16 miles.
These stakes have a history of being a square off between locally based horses and California shippers. This year’s edition is no exception. A look at the local versus shipper standouts in each of the five stakes.
4th Race: $60,000 Queen of the Green, Fillies & Mares, 4-year-olds & Up, 1 1/16 mile (turf), 8 entered.
FAIRY TALE BLISS – In the barn of local trainer Dan McFarlane, this Cal-based 7-year-old mare is 10 of 20 lifetime grass efforts.
ICE QUEEN – This Cal shipper has been racing at Santa Anita, finding moderate success among low level turf claimers.
YANKEE DOLLAR – Locally based 4-year-old folly is lightly raced but improving with each start. The front-running daughter of California Chrome will have leading rider Harry Hernandez aboard.
5th Race: $75,000 Arizona Oaks, Fillies, 3-year-olds, 1 mile, 8 entered.
FAYETTE FOX – Recently claimed for $62,500 out of her maiden win at Santa Anita by Vladimir Cerin, who won this race in 2008, the daughter of Sharp Azteca is looking to capitalize on immediate black type if she can win the Oaks.
BEYOND AWESOME – A confirmed front-runner for leading trainer Justin Evans, this sophomore already has two stakes wins to her credit and won five of eight races overall.
6th Race: $75,000 Turf Paradise Derby, 3-year-olds, 1 1/16 miles, 12 entered.
THIRSTY JOHN – Winner of the Cal Cup Derby, it is this colt’s race to lose for trainer Peter Miller. Only entrant sporting a win at the distance.
TIZ TOCK – Fellow west coast shipper, claimed from his maiden win by John Sadler.
ARIZONA ANDREW – A winner of 5 of 7 starts, including three stakes, for local trainer Kevin Eikleberry
7th Race: $100,000 Phoenix Gold Cup, 4-year-olds & Up, 6 furlongs, 12 entered.
HOWBEIT – Brings a Grade 2 win at Santa Anita to this deep field of sprinters. One of two nominated by trainer Mark Glatt. The other being ESCAPE ROUTE.
MINISTER OF SOUL – One of two locally based horses that have won the Gold Cup (2019) along with TIGER DAD (2022). While MINISTER OF SOUL will be battle up front TIGER DAD will make an off the pace late rush.
8th Race: $100,000 Cotton Fitzsimmons Mile, 3-year-olds and up, 8 furlongs (turf), 12 entered
SMOOTH LIKE STRAIT - Grade 1 winner and multiple graded runner-ups, including
a close finish for the win in the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Mile, this Michael McCarthy front-runner is the one to beat. If there’s a chink in this $1.8 million earner’s armor, it’s his last three graded starts show signs he may be tailing off, although his recent works indicate he just needed a breather.