12 to follow at Gulfstream, Santa Anita, more

In this biweekly series, racing analyst Keeler Johnson shares promising horses from his handicapping watch list, reviewing runners who have recently caught his eye and previewing horses scheduled to run back in the near future.

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Bubble Rock

Does Bubble Rock have what it takes to compete on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks? We’ll find out when the Brad Cox trainee starts in Saturday’s sixth race at Turfway Park, the Cincinnati Trophy (post time 8:46 pm EST).

Bubble Rock has done her best work on turf, but she didn’t run badly in the Valdale over the Turfway Tapeta track last month, finishing second in her return from a three-month layoff. If she steps forward while stretching out over one mile in her second run of the season, Bubble Rock can produce a competitive effort.

Dean’s List

We have to respect the chances of Dean’s List in Saturday’s 10th race at Aqueduct, the Gotham (G3, post time 5:27 pm). Stretching out over one mile is a question mark for the speedy Todd Pletcher trainee, who has gone 2-for-2 sprinting against maiden and allowance company at Gulfstream Park. But Gulfstream raiders have won four of the last 10 editions of the Gotham, and Dean’s List has beaten some promising rivals, so don’t dismiss him from consideration.


After wrapping up her juvenile season with three straight stakes wins, including a tenacious victory in the Starlet (G1), Eda will kick off her sophomore campaign in Saturday’s eighth race at Santa Anita, the Santa Ysabel (G3, post time 7:00 pm ).

A strong field has assembled for the Santa Ysabel, including Starlet runner-up Cairo Memories and Chandelier (G2) winner Ain’t Easy. It’s possible the race will be a tough spot for Eda, whose flashiest efforts have come in sprints. But Eda is fast and tough, so she’s eligible to fire a strong shot even while returning from a three-month layoff.


Dean’s List isn’t the only undefeated Todd Pletcher trainee entered to race this week. Emmanuel is another, and he looks like a serious win threat in Saturday’s 12th race at Gulfstream Park, the Fountain of Youth (post time G2, 5:42 pm).

Emmanuel was tons the best when wiring his debut racing one mile at Gulfstream Park, and he was similarly impressive in a one-mile and 40-yard allowance optional claimer at Tampa Bay Downs, finishing fast to score by 4 1/2 lengths. Emmanuel clearly has a ton of ability, and he’ll have every chance to make his graded debut a winning one.

Forbidden Kingdom

Can Forbidden Kingdom stretch his blazing speed over 1 1/16 miles? We’ll find out when he starts as the favorite in Saturday’s sixth race at Santa Anita, the San Felipe (G2, post time 5:30 pm).

Forbidden Kingdom was an impressive winner of the San Vicente (G2) sprinting seven furlongs at Santa Anita, carving out a fast pace before kicking on to beat future Group 3 Saudi Derby winner Pinehurst by 2 1/4 lengths. Forbidden Kingdom seems likely to secure a lonely lead in the San Felipe, setting the stage for another pacesetting triumph.

Gift List

Winner of the Edgewood (G2) as a 3-year-old last season, Gift List recently returned from a long layoff to finish fourth in the Pegasus World Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G3) at Gulfstream Park. This was an encouraging effort, and I’m optimism Gift List can perform even better in Saturday’s ninth race at Gulfstream, the Honey Fox (G3, post time 4:10 pm). She looks competitive on paper, and trainer Brian Lynch wins at a 22 percent rate with horses running for the second time following a layoff.

Marissa’s Lady

If Bubble Rock is going to win the Cincinnati Trophy, she’ll have to deal with Marissa’s Lady, an undefeated filly with three stakes wins to her credit. Marissa’s Lady beat Bubble Rock by half a dozen lengths in Turfway’s 6 1/2-furlong Valdale last month, so if Marissa’s Lady handles stretching out over one mile, she’ll be tough to catch in the Cincinnati Trophy.

Radio Days

Fresh off a runner-up effort in the Grade 3 Forward Gal at Gulfstream Park, Radio Days will return to her favorite track for Saturday’s ninth race at Aqueduct, the Busher Invitational (post time 4:57 pm).

Radio Days went 2-for-2 at Aqueduct last year, winning her debut sprinting six furlongs before smashing a seven-furlong allowance optional claimer by 8 1/2 lengths. The daughter of Gun Runner has the pedigree to improve with maturity and should be tough to beat in her second run of the season for hot trainer Shug McGaughey.

Rattle N Roll

Bettors won’t necessarily expect Rattle N Roll to produce a peak effort in the Fountain of Youth–not while returning from a five-month layoff, and with the Kentucky Derby looming as the ultimate goal. But Rattle N Roll was impressive as could be in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland last fall, beating a good field by 4 1/4 lengths, and he’s trained sharply in preparation for the Fountain of Youth. Don’t be surprised if he outruns his 8-1 morning line odds, with better to come down the road.

Speaker’s Corner

After showing plenty of promise at ages 2 and 3, Speaker’s Corner put everything together in the Jan. 29 Grade 3 Fred W. Hooper racing one mile at Gulfstream. Making his 4-year-old debut, Speaker’s Corner carved out a solid pace before battling on to win by 1 1/4 lengths.

Speaker’s Corner will have every chance to keep his momentum going in Saturday’s 10th race at Gulfstream, the Grade 2 WinStar Gulfstream Park Mile (post time 4:40 pm). He’s sticking to the same distance as the Fred W. Hooper, and he’s already defeated key rival Fearless. An A-game effort from

Speaker’s Corner should be good enough to win.

Stage Raider

The wait is over. We haven’t seen Stage Raider in action since the half-brother to Triple Crown winner Justify nabbed a one-mile allowance optional claimer on May 14 at Belmont Park. Stage Raider has been on the sidelines a long time, but he’ll finally return to action in Saturday’s eighth race at Gulfstream Park, a one-mile allowance optional claimer (post time 3:40 pm).

The field contains several talented runners, so Stage Raider isn’t necessarily a lock to win off the layoff. But Stage Raider is bred to improve with maturity, so it’s possible we haven’t seen anywhere near his best yet. An encouraging run on Saturday can set the stage for a productive 2022 campaign.

Tiz the Bomb

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) runner-up Tiz the Bomb failed to fire his best shot in the Holy Bull (G3) on dirt at Gulfstream last month, finishing seventh. But perhaps switching to Tapeta for Saturday’s fifth race at Turfway Park, the John Battaglia Memorial (post time 8:14 pm) can trigger a turnaround.

Tiz the Bomb figures to be sharper in his second run of the season, and the caliber of competition at Turfway should be easier than Tiz the Bomb encountered in the Holy Bull. A return to peak form would make Tiz the Bomb difficult to deny.

Which horses do you have your eyes on this week?

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