Looking for Value in the Suncoast and Las Virgenes Stakes

Horse Racing Radar
Rich Bieglmeier
Rich Bieglmeier is a Staff writer for Horse Racing Radar
Saturday, February 6, 2021

Most of the attention goes to the Kentucky Derby and the horses along the qualifying trail. Horseplayers can miss out on some great horses and storylines if they overlook the road to the Kentucky Oaks. For some, SWISS SKYDIVER may have been an afterthought following her fifth-place finish in the non-graded Gasparilla Stakes. Nobody would have thought six-months later SKYDIVER would try to do something no other filly has ever done, win the Blue Grass Stakes against the boys. She didn't, finishing second to ART COLLECTOR in a packed field.

SWISS SKYDIVER's strong performance in the Blue Grass Stakes was no surprise to those who followed her development on the Road to the 2020 Kentucky Oaks. Horseplayers will have a pair of chances today to see which fillies could have a chance to write their own SWISS SKYDIVER story.

·         Suncoast Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs

·         Las Virgenes Stakes at Santa Anita

We are going to look beyond the favorite in each race and try to uncover upset minded horses that could "come out of nowhere" like SWISS SKYDIVER following the Gasparilla Stakes. We'll start in Tampa.

GULF COAST (PP: 7 ML 5/2) was the favorite but scratched to run in Sunday's Ruthless Stakes at Aqueduct (probably to finish second behind a heavy favorite MISS BRAZIL). The number two choice in the program HONORIFIQUE (PP: 5 ML 7/2) is also out of the race.

FEELING MISCHIEF (PP: 2 ML 9/2) is likely to takeover favorite status but she is highly vulnerable. She's stretching out and has faded on two of her four races; also, not a fan that her fractions were dull in her last and she still went wobbly legged late.

But we are fans of two ladies in this spot, CURLIN'S CATCH (PP: 4 ML 6-1) and BE SNEAKY (PP: 8 ML 12-1). CURLIN'S CATCH ran on real dirt for the fist time in her last race after running her first two on Woodbine's all-weather surface. The daughter of CURLIN and CATCH THE THRILL appeared to like the surface switch. She ran much faster ½ and ¾ mile fractions in her on Gulfstream's main track. She might be a little better in the Suncoast in her second effort after a couple of months on the bench.

BE SNEAKY was outrun in her last run, finishing third in the non-graded Smart Halo Stakes at Laurel Park on November 14, 2020. She's been training well since for Arnaud Delacour and will try to run a route for the first time in her return to the track. Delacour is hitting at 31% during the current Tampa meet and wins at a higher 36% with horses going long for the first time.

The Grade III, Las Virgenes Stakes at Santa Anita is a short field with a heavy favorite, MOONLIGHT D'ORO (PP: 3 ML 1-1). In our view, KALYPSO (PP: 2 ML 5/2) is the horse in the field of five with the best chance to upset the chalk in race three. Jockey Joel Rosario rode her to victory lane in the Grade II, San Yanez stakes in her last race as the $0.90 favorite.  It was her second win in two Santa Anita outings and the second race following a layoff. We expect her to be better in the Las Virgenes, making the classic third start off the sidelines. Race three in her only other three race cycle was the best of the trio.

The Suncoast and Las Virgenes winners will put some Kentucky Oaks qualifying points on the books and maybe, just maybe move to the forefront of Oaks pack and horseplayers' minds.