The weekly primer makes its belated return this week and just in time for a boatload of major stakes that serve as preps for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships in five weeks’ time.
A dozen graded stakes are on the menu for the final Saturday in September – how did that happen? – from Belmont to Santa Anita, Woodbine to Hastings. Yes, Hastings.
The weekend features the return of racing at Santa Anita, home of the Breeders’ Cup Nov. 1-2 and the final days of the Churchill Downs September stand that leads into the Keeneland fall meet. The Jockey Club Gold Cup carries the day at Belmont Park for the first of two monster weekends. Overseas we've got action from a stellar card at Newmarket with action from The Curragh, Auteuil and Market Rasen sprinkled in for good measure.
Here’s your primer for Saturday, Sept. 28. Take care and good luck.
Newmarket. Race 1. 8:50 a.m. Strong card at Newmarket. It starts here with the Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes for 2-year-olds. American-bred Kameko just missed in the Solario Stakes at Sandown in August. Aidan O’Brien tosses three at the opener.
The Curragh. Race 2. 9:00. The Group 3 Aes Renaissance Stakes attracts seven, including Beckford. Trained by Gordon Elliott, yeah that guy, the 4-year-old owns sprint wins from The Curragh to Churchill Downs.
Newmarket. Race 2. 9:25. The Group 1 Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes. Two-time Group 2 winner Raffle Prize just missed winning the Darley Prix Morny in August. She should land this for Frankie Dettori and Mark Johnston.
Newmarket. Race 3. 10:00. Another Group 1 on a stellar card. Earthlight puts his undefeated mark on the line in the Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes. American-breds Monarch Of Egypt and Siskin cast long shadows.
Auteuil. Race 5. 10:30. Polirico looks for revenge on 4-year-old filly L’autonomie in this Group 3 hurdle.
Newmarket. Race 4. 10:40. Wow, 33 aim at the Bet365 Cambridgeshire Handicap. Now, that’s a horse race.
Market Rasen. Race 5. 11:00. Not many rich hurdle races at this time of year but credit to the Lincolnshire track for offering $45,000 to 13 listed hurdle horses.
Newmarket. Race 5. 11:15. Two-year-old fillies aim at the Blandford Bloodstock Maiden Fillies’ Stakes.
The Curragh. Race 6. 11:20. Dermot Weld doesn’t waver, the Irish scion pits 3-year-old filly Kastasa against a 5-year-old horse, a 4-year-old colt, a 3-year-old colt and a 4-year-old filly in the Group 3 stakes going 2 miles.
Laurel Park. Race 1. 12:25. September to Remember Stakes Festival Day starts with two-turn allowance on the turf.
Gulfstream Park. Race 4. 1:25. The $75,000 Our Dear Peggy is first of eight stakes on $1.35 million Florida Sire Stakes program.
Belmont Park. Race 2. 1:33. Eddie Barker, a staple of the Fasig-Tipton Glenn DiSanto Stable Tour with The Little Guys, talked about the Palace Malice colt Our Troubadour when we stopped by the last Saturday of the Saratoga meet. Check out what he said here, and catch up on some of the other Stable Tours available online now.
Chelmsford City. Race 4. 1:50. Do American-breds suffer from longevity issues because of pedigree or because of other reasons? Here’s American-bred Tropics. He’s 11 years old, making his 60th career start, seeking his 15th victory. And he’s 2-1.
Laurel. Race 4. 2:00. The $75,000 Challedon leads off six-pack of stakes on the card. Restricted to non-winners of a sweepstakes, 7-furlong event attracted field of 10 led by last-out Saratoga winners Wonderful Light and American Power.
Woodbine. Race 3. 2:14. Early graded stakes on the card with Grade 3 Durham going 9 furlongs on the Tapeta. Arnaud Delacour tried Laurel, Arlington and Del Mar – all going long on the grass – with The Great Day in his last three starts. Maryland shipper meets solid locals Special Forces, Thor’s Rocket and Aheadbyacentury.
Gulfstream. Race 6. 2:24. Nine 2-year-olds entered for the $75,000 Hollywood Beach at 5 furlongs on the grass.
Laurel. Race 5. 2:30. Miss J McKay finished 3 lengths clear in 5-furlong Colleen Stakes last time in turf debut before being disqualified and placed third. She’s still favored in $100,000 Anne Arundel County for 2-year-old fillies going 5 1/2 on the grass.
Belmont. Race 4. 2:35. How good was Imperial Hint in the Grade 1 Vanderbilt in late July at Saratoga? The little guy will be tough in the Grade 1 Vosburgh, a race he won last year with similar spacing.
Delaware Park. Race 4. 2:45. First stakes of the 27th annual Owners Day card is DTHA Governors Day Handicap, restricted to local starters in 2019. Cordmaker, a winner last time out in mid-August for Rodney Jenkins, fits that qualification and if he runs back to third in Grade 3 Pimlico Special he’ll roll in this spot.
Gulfstream. Race 7. 2:54. Garter And Tie returns to friendlier company in $15,000 FTBOA Florida Sire Wildcat Heir after finishing fifth and ninth in back-to-back graded stakes tries.
Laurel. Race 6. 3:00. Saguaro Row runs back on relatively short rest after non-threatening seventh in synthetic debut last time in Grade 2 Presque Isle Downs Masters. She finished second in Saratoga’s Shine Again prior to that and looks tough in this edition of $75,000 Shine Again. Yes, that’s correct.
Delaware. Race 5. 3:15. Seven Delaware-bred or certified 2-year-old fillies entered in $100,000 Small Wonder.
Gulfstream. Race 8. 3:24. Back to the grass for the $75,000 Armed Forces. Graceful Kitten, winner of similar stakes last time to run record to 2-for-2, takes on familiar foe Captain D in 1-mile event.
Laurel. Race 7. 3:30. Highland Sky rolled in off-the-turf edition of the John’s Call and returns to the grass for $100,000 Japan Turf Cup going 12 furlongs.
Monmouth Park. Race 6. 3:31. The season rolls along at the Jersey Shore – the final full weekend actually with Friday-Saturday cards at the Meadowlands and Sundays at Monmouth next month. Here’s the $100,000 Mr. Prospector and 6-furlong stakes looks like it goes through Whyruawesome or Laki.
Belmont. Race 6. 3:39. Could be more than a few to watch in this 2-year-old maiden at 6 furlongs.
Delaware. Race 6. 3:45. One of the best named stakes of the year, the $100,000 Tax Free Shopping Distaff. Who doesn’t love a good deal?
Monmouth. Race 7. 3:57. Full field of 14, plus two on also-eligible list, for $100,000 Rainbow Heir. Pocket Change, second as favorite in the 2018 Lucky Coin at Saratoga, makes first start since last October and local debut for Jason Servis.
Laurel. Race 8. 4:00. Colonia finished fourth in Parx stakes off more than eight-month layoff and that should set up Champs Elysees filly for $100,000 Fasig-Tipton All Along.
Parx Racing. Race 8. 4:04. Tide Storm, no match last time out in Stormy Blues at 5 1/2 furlongs, stretches out, adds Lasix and takes on older foes in 7 1/2-furlong allowance on the grass.
Delaware. Race 7. 4:15. Call Paul, cross-entered in the Grade 1 Vosburgh, is massive standout in $100,000 New Castle going same 6-furlong trip. If he’s out Threes Over Deuces is the one to beat.
Gulfstream. Race 10. 4:26. Eleven entered in $75,000 Mr. Steele going 1 1/16 miles on the grass, including last-out winners Driven By Thunder and Grand Journey.
Monmouth. Race 8. 4:26. Tough to knock consistency of Satisfy, daughter of Candy Ride who brings 5-for-7 record with two seconds for Bill Mott and Dream Maker Racing into $100,000 Regret Stakes.
Belmont. Race 8. 4:43. Two words – Midnight Bisou. Winner of the Grade 1 Personal Ensign last time for her sixth win in a row – all this year – she buries her five opponents at level weights here in the Grade 2 Beldame. The Beldame not being a Grade 1 makes zero sense, too. Someone needs to fix that.
Delaware. Race 8. 4:45. Eleven fillies and mares – plus one main track only – entered for $75,000 George Rosenberger Memorial at 1 1/16 miles on the grass.
Monmouth. Race 9. 4:53. Back to the grass for $100,000 Violet. Chad Brown’s Barkaa is 8-1 on the early line off a third in Belmont optional back in late June.
Gulfstream. Race 11. 4:58. The first of two $400,000 headliners is FTBOA Florida Sire My Dear Girl for 2-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles. Ceci Valentina upset the Susan’s Girl last time and meets Bahamian Girl, Awesome Inda and others again.
Laurel. Race 10. 5:00. So Street ran well in two turf sprints at Colonial and rates edge from the outside post in $100,000 Howard County for 2-year-olds.
Delaware. Race 9. 5:15. Tommy Shelby brings 2-for-2 record against five other Delaware-bred or certified 2-year-olds in $100,000 First State Dash.
Belmont. Race 9. 5:16. No “Win and You’re In” for the Grade 3 Pilgrim but no doubt the winner earns a spot in the field for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. That much we know. The winner, that’s another story. How about Famished? John Kimmel keeps it rolling with his solid group of 2-year-olds for Tobey Morton.
Woodbine. Race 9. 5:26. Avie’s Flatter, on the board in each Canadian classic this summer, looks to add another graded stakes in Grade 3 Ontario Derby for trainer Josie Carroll. Son of Flatter won the Grade 3 Transylvania at Keeneland in 2019 debut. Mike Trombetta ships Global Access, winner of the Grade 3 Saranac, back to Woodbine in search of second stakes win there this season.
Gulfstream. Race 12. 5:30. The stakes keep rolling in South Florida. Here’s the $75,000 Monroe for fillies and mares going two turns on the grass.
Belmont. Race 10. 5:49. Lot of teeth gnashing over the size of the field for the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup. People need to put it all in context; it’s the end of the year, many horses are retired or headed that way and there are a lot of spots to run. Plus do you want to take on Code Of Honor, Preservationist and Tacitus? A win here and Code Of Honor stakes major claim toward the 3-year-old championship, Breeders’ Cup Classic or not.
Gulfstream. Race 13. 6:03. Liam’s Lucky Charm and Chance It have developed a good rivalry and meet again in $400,000 FTBOA Florida Sire In Reality, the same race Holy Bull won back in 1993 to end his juvenile season at 4-for-4.
Santa Anita Park. Race 7. 6:38. Acclimate and Oscar Dominguez bring the resumes to the Grade 2 John Henry Turf Championship, while United brings the most upside in just his second stakes appearance for Richard Mandella.
Hastings Park. Race 6. 7:10. We promised Hastings. Here’s the (other) Ballerina Stakes for fillies and mares. This one goes at 9 furlongs and carries Grade 3 status. Seven entered, including familiar rivals Bear and Here’s Hannah.
Churchill Downs. Race 4. 7:26. Rodolphe Brisset thought Catherineofaragon would be suited to going long on the grass first time out. He said as much in his Fasig-Tipton Stable Tour. She didn’t fare well that day and shortens up here in 7-furlong maiden on the main track. Might be worth a look at a price.
Santa Anita. Race 9. 7:41. Brad Cox ships Beau Recall, winner of the Grade 2 Yellow Ribbon at Del Mar in August, back to the West Coast for Grade 1 Rodeo Drive with hopes of locking up a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf. The winner gets an automatic spot in that race.
Santa Anita. Race 10. 8:13. Higher Power versus McKinzie. Pacific Classic winner versus Whitney winner. That’s the Grade 1 Awesome Again in a nutshell. Sure there are others in field hopeful for a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, like Seeking The Soul and Draft Pick, but the 9-furlong stakes boils down to those two.
Santa Anita. Race 11. 8:46. Hopefully we haven’t seen the last of the downhill turf course. The $75,000 Unzip Me Stakes goes at 5 1/2 furlongs on the grass, versus the old days at the about 6 1/2-furlong trip down the hill.
Churchill. Race 7. 9:05. The Grade 3 Ack Ack lost a little when Richard Mandella opted not to send Omaha Beach back to Kentucky for 1-mile stakes for his return. A field of nine remains, including multiple graded stakes winner Timeline in first start for Steve Asmussen off long layoff, Grade 2 Triple Bend winner Air Strike, two-time Churchill winner C Z Rocket and Canterbury shipper Mr. Jagermeister. That last one figures to get some play from the Downs After Dark crowd.
Churchill. Race 8. 9:39. Several players from the Caesars Stakes in early September at Indiana Grand line up for Grade 3 Jefferson Cup, including adjudged winner Corruze and the DQ’d winner Spectacular Gem. Scars Are Cool lands in more sensible spot after finishing 10th in Grade 1 Travers off only a maiden victory.
Churchill. Race 9. 10:11. Tenfold looked like a Jockey Club Gold Cup runner after working on the Oklahoma in Saratoga all September but Steve Asmussen opted to send him straight home for the Grade 3 Lukas Classic. Pimlico Special winner meets the likes of Stephen Foster runner-up Quip, Grade 3 West Virginia Governor’s Cup winner Silver Dust, Mexican star Kukuklan and the consistent Pioneer Spirit in $250,000 stakes.