The New Year brings with it new hope for some of the horses in training in the United States. All the focus will soon switch to the Kentucky Derby prep races, but there are some interesting races to get stuck into this weekend with the leading horse racing betting sites.

Santa Ynez Stakes- Grade 2

We will start with the highest graded action taking place this weekend, which also offers ten Kentucky Oaks points for the winning horse. The Santa Ynez Stakes takes place at Santa Anita, and is for fillies aged three. It will be run over a distance of seven furlongs, and an interesting field have declared for the contest.

Under The Stars and Big Switch will be battling for the spot at the top of the market for this race. The prior mentioned horse is trained by Bob Baffert, and finally broke her maiden in commanding fashion last time out at Los Alamitos. However, we prefer the chances of Big Switch for trainer John Sadler. 

The three-year-old has done nothing wrong on her previous two starts, and continued her perfect record at Del Mar with victory in the Golden State Juvenile Fillies Stakes a couple of months ago. I expect another improved performance on this step up in opposition, and she could be an Oaks contender to keep on side.

Pick: Big Switch

Tropical Turf Stakes- Grade 3

Next up we have a Grade 3 contest from Gulfstream Park, as horses aged four and older compete in the Tropical Turf Stakes. This is a turf race with a mile covered by the seven horses involved. It looks to be a shootout between the horses in stalls one to four, as Flying Scotsman, Call Curt and Belgrano all don’t seem to have the form in the book to perform at this level.

Value Proposition takes the step back up in trip for this contest after finishing fifth in a sprint stakes race at Aqueduct last time. His wins in the Red Bank and Oyster Bay Stakes both offer strong pieces of evidence that he will once again go well back over a mile.

However, Largent for the connections of Luis Saez and Todd Pletcher looks to be the class of this field. We last saw this five-year-old finishing second in the G1 Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational Stakes just under 12 months ago, but he is a very solid performer. Before the second, he won the G2 Ft. Lauderdale Stakes at Gulfstream, and will be looking for a fourth stakes success this weekend.

Pick: Largent

Pippin Stakes

The final race that we will have a look at this weekend is the Pippin Stakes, which comes from Oaklawn Park. It is a race for fillies and mares that are aged four and older, and is run over a distance of one mile. It looks set to be a competitive betting race, with Coach likely to go off a short price favorite for trainer Brad Cox.

The four-year-old was very impressive last time we saw her at the track, as she easily returned to form with a speed figure of 90 when winning an allowance optional claiming race. Before that, she was ninth in the G1 Kentucky Oaks. However, Josie and Breeze Rider both also have strong piece of form in the book and should go well.

I have a soft spot for Miss Bigly in this race for Phillip D’Amato, who was in very good form throughout 2021. She won the Tranquillity Lake Stakes at Del Mar in August, and was third at graded level in both the Zenyatta and Chilukki on her last two starts. If at the level of her run in the Chilukki, she could be very difficult to overlook here.

Pick: Miss Bigly