W.L. McKnight (G3) — Race 10 (4:13 p.m. ET)
He’s been an infrequent visitor to the winner’s circle in recent years, but the venerable veteran Sadler’s Joy will command respect in Saturday’s $150,000 W.L. McKnight Stakes (G3), one of several graded stakes on the Pegasus World Cup undercard at Gulfstream Park.
Sixth in the Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1) a year ago, the 8-year-old Sadler’s Joy sets his sights lower in the 1 1/2-mile McKnight. Although officially winless in eight starts last season after being demoted from first in the Bowling Green (G2), Sadler’s Joy placed twice in Grade 1 company and was most recently fourth in his title defense of the Red Smith (G3) against a competitive field on Nov. 21.
The opposition includes Sir Sahib, runner-up in the Northern Dancer Turf (G1) in his most recent outing, and the long-winded Sir Anthony, who sprung an upset in the two-mile H. Allen Jerkens S. in late December. Two relatively young horses on the rise are Doswell, second to Largent in the Ft. Lauderdale (G2) in his stakes debut, and Tide of the Sea, who finished only sixth in the 9-furlong Ft. Lauderdale, twice won in allowance company last fall going long for Mike Maker.
La Prevoyante (G3) — Race 8 (3:09 p.m. ET)
The $125,000 La Prevoyante Stakes (G3), for fillies and mares at 1 1/2 miles on the turf, lacks a standout and appears wide open. Always Shopping is 2-for-3 over the local turf, including a score in the Via Borghese S. last time, but rivals such as Cap de Creus, Traipsing or Court Return have the potential to overturn the results of that affair.
Heavenly Curlin enters on a three-race win streak over the Polytrack at Woodbine, including a blowout Grade 3 win over 1 1/4 miles, but was unplaced in her only prior attempt on the grass. Delta’s Kingdom can earn a share with her best, while English Affair possesses sufficient back class but seems to prefer softer footing. Lovely Lucky seemingly has more early foot than most of her rivals and might attempt to take these as far as she can.
Marshua’s River (G3) — Race 7 (2:38 p.m. ET)
The $125,000 Marshua’s River Stakes (G3), for fillies and mares at one mile on the turf, marks the return of the stakes-winning Zofelle, who narrowly missed in both the Sand Springs S. here and in the Mint Julep (G3) prior to a dull effort in the Just a Game (G1) in her final outing of 2020.
Possessing more current form are Niko’s Dream and Tuned, one-two in the Dec. 12 My Charmer S., while Tropical Park Oaks winner Vigilantes Way renews acquaintance with her Hilltop S. conqueror Evil Lyn, the recent runner-up in the Pago Hop S. at Fair Grounds. Multiple Grade 3-placed Sweet Bye and Bye might be the one to fear, though, as she makes her debut for new trainer Saffie Joseph Jr.