Daytona Stakes (Grade 3)- $150.000 Purse
SA- For Four Year Olds and Upward
Six and a Half Furlongs on the Turf
February 24, 2018
The Daytona Stakes is a smaller graded event for turf sprinters, running at SA for the 11th time. It will be just the eighth time that the race has the graded classification. On occasion in its history, the race has either not filled, or not been scheduled by the game. Jamfest is the most well known winner, doing so in 2014 and 2015, as a six and seven year old. He was one of the greats of this division, and won over $3,200.000 total. This year, Tokyo Secret will take the role of Jamfest in as far as being the headliner of the race. He is the reigning champion of the BC Turf Sprint, and looks to rebound from a tough result in his 2018 debut. Let’s take a look at him and the other eight going to the gate now!
#1- Proud Revolt (Stone Creek Farm, ridden by T C Baze)- This is a horse that knows how to win, having done so in seven of 15 career starts, as well as four of his last five. That smaller stretch represents his career on the grass thus far. While impressive, this is his graded debut, and it comes off a win in the $70.000 Clockers Corner here last month. So far, he’s responded well each time the trainer has asked a little more for him, and I expect him to be a contender here. Having bred his dam, he’ll have my rooting support.
#2- Desmond (Sharis Stables, ridden by M E Smith)- Like Proud Revolt, Desmond is also appearing in a graded stake for the first time. He’s earned it, having won four out of his last six starts, all coming after being gelded. Actually, there is really a lot in common with these two starters to the inside, as Desmond is also coming off a good looking win last month, right here, at the same distance. Capable of having success either being on the lead early, or coming fron behind.
#3- Solow (LionKing Stables, ridden by F Prat)- This gelding by Rene became a well known name over the summer months last year, winning the Grade 2 American Turf, then placing in the Grade 1 Shoemaker. This would ultimately send him to the BC Turf, although there was a private sale in the interim. Prior trainer Smokey Stover did not really have the same success with him as Blushing Meadows did, and that led to him being sold again. Solow debut for LionKing in the Grade 2 Ft Lauderdale, and won that 8.5F race. He should be one of the top contenders, but I am not certain this is his best distance. We shall see!
#4- El Gran Black (Luz International, ridden by D Van Dyke)- This will be something new for El Gran Black, as he never sprinted on the grass before. Most recently, he has been on the main track, and going over a mile. Prior turf starts all have been over a mile. Recent results show him to be in a little bit of a funk, so this is a good time to try something new, and I like this placement of a race for him to see how he measures up against others who come here off of different paths. He’s a wild card in this field.
#5- Rebel Force (John Henry, ridden by K J Desormeaux)- Winner of four out of 18 career starts, and seems to sold in private sales every three or four races, so he may be due again. Part of that reason could be inconsistency, or a simple inability to step up in the biggest races. He does have one graded win, in the Grade 3 Seagram last year, but his KYD run seems to have put the expectations on him higher then he has been able to fulfill. The addition of lasix by John Henry, something used a couple owners prior might help with the consistency issue, as the last two results show a positive trend. Very interesting one to watch here.
#6- Champion Farley (Mb Stables, ridden by Mario Gutierrez)- The five year old has won nine races in 21 starts, but it was a second place result that may have been his best race, as he finished in that position in the BC Turf Sprint last year. He was hot going into that race, which included winning the Grade 3 Eddie D Stakes right here at SA in last September, doing so in a dead heat. The one he dead heated with? Tokyo Secret, the only won that beat him in the BC. They have faced off against one another enough yet to call it a rivalry, but this is an exciting race within the race.
#7- Mucho Knowledge (Estero Farms, ridden by R Maragh)- This one has been knocking on the door of picking up that first graded win, and this may be the race for him. First, he’ll have to forget the fact that he has the top two runners from the BC Turf Sprint on each side of him in the starting gate, and concentrate on his own race. After all, his speed figures show that he has plenty of ability, and I like how consistent that they have been. After running third in the Grade 2 Woodford, he’s been in two ungraded events, one that he won. Unless he bottoms out here, which I highly doubt, I’d like to see him remain at the graded level.
#8- Tokyo Secret (Tiratzo, ridden by R Bejarano)- In November, Tokyo Secret joined an elite club that can call themselves a BC Champion. Overall during 2017, Tokyo Secret won five out of eight races, and had a stretch in the spring time that saw him dominate. During the summer, when having to face three year olds, he had a couple tough finishes, but rebounded beautifully in the BC. Now, he needs to rebound again, because he was not sharp in his last race, the GP Turf Sprint. He’s had those occasional blips on the past performances, so let’s hope that’s all that was.
#9- Kremlin (Maxmillion Farm, ridden by J Talamo)- This gelding has had a successful career, with six wins in 15 starts, and is now set to make his debut as a five year old. This will mean a lay off of three months, so that is something to keep in mind. He has not been raced all that much by the trainer, and the last two runs don’t make me optimistic here. Hopefully the trainer has him ready to reverse those fortunes, or it may be a tough race.