The stars are out this weekend on the East Coast and West Coast as Belmont Park and Santa Anita Park host definitive Breeders’ Cup prep races in several divisions.
The $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup headlines Super Saturday card at Belmont that also features Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic, Beldame, Vosburg and Flower Bowl and Grade 2 Kelso. Santa Anita counters with its own stakes six-pack, led by Grade 1 Awesome Again, Zenyatta, FrontRunner, Chandelier and Rodeo Drive, along with the ungraded but very interesting Unzip Me going down the hill.
Plenty of other action sprinkled throughout the day, from Delaware Park and Laurel Park to Suffolk Downs and Woodbine.
Here’s your domestic cheat sheet for Saturday. Check back later and we’ll get you primed for some European action.
Belmont Park. First Race. 12:50 p.m. Super Saturday card gets off to strong start with maiden 2-year-olds going 7 furlongs.
Suffolk Downs. Third Race. 1:39. George Brown looks to have Norman Hall Stakes over the barrel with four of the nine 2-year-olds entered.
Laurel Park. Third Race. 2:10. Selima Stakes. Now it’s 5 ½ furlongs on the turf for 2-year-old fillies. Back in the day it was a longer grass stakes, for a while a Grade 1 and the winners readers like a who’s who. Shuvee, Bed o’ Roses, Busher, Moccasin, Numbered Account, La Prevoyante, Miss Oceana, Mom’s Command and Capades.
Belmont Park. Fourth Race. 2:27. The Grade 2 Kelso Handicap. John Terranova was high on River Rocks all summer at Saratoga and rightfully so considering the son of Western Pride won back-to-back starts. He meets Woodward winner Itsmyluckyday and others in this spot.
Woodbine. Fourth Race. 2:39. Speaking of La Prevoyante, here’s the 40th edition of stakes named in her honor. Read more about La Prevoyante here.
Churchill Downs. Fifth Race. 2:45. Voyage Beyond, filly by Tapit out of Sightseek, debuts for Bill Mott and Juddmonte Farms.
Belmont. Fifth Race. 3:00. Grade 1s should never be the fifth race, unless there’s a bunch in a row and they have to start somewhere. Regardless, Grade 1 Beldame should be Stopchargingmaria’s fourth straight win, but she faces tall order against older rivals like Belle Gallantey and Stanwyck.
Laurel. Fifth Race. 3:10. Same drill for Laurel Futurity as Selima. Wow, what a list. Morvich, Count Fleet, Citation, In Reality, Riva Ridge, Secretariat, Affirmed, Spectacular Bid, Deputy Minister, Devil’s Bag and Bet Twice. More recently Go and Go, Toccet, Tapit and Barbaro. Kids, do yourselves a favor, read up.
Belmont. Sixth Race. 3:33. Allowance/optional going 7 furlongs on the grass briefly interrupts the stakes action.
Delaware Park. Sixth Race. 3:35. Burndines disappointed in debut for Lieblongs and Tony Dutrow at Saratoga. Adds blinkers and moves to the turf for second start.
Belmont. Seventh Race. 4:07. Tough to separate this group in Grade 1 Flower Bowl. Abaco the only one coming in off a win in graded company so we’ll go in that direction.
Read about Abaco’s win in the Grade 2 Ballston Spa in the Aug. 24 digital edition of The Saratoga Special presented by Keeneland.
Laurel. Seventh Race. 4:10. The Lady Baltimore. Looks like Scampering and Chat, or Chat and Scampering.
Churchill. Eighth Race. 4:18. Tafel, Nafzger, Borel, the rail. Where have we heard this before? All signs point to Smart N Soft.
Laurel. Eighth Race. 4:40. Connections of Madame Giry have to be thankful Free as a Bird isn’t in Jameela Stakes.
Belmont. Eighth Race. 4:41. Grade 1 Vosburgh gets all the logical players – with exception of King’s Bishop winner The Big Beast. Palace could further legitimize case for champion male sprinter with another win.
Watch Palace win the Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt.
Read more about Coup de Grace in the July 26 digital edition of The Saratoga Special presented by Keeneland.
Churchill. Ninth Race. 4:49. Second edition of the Homecoming Classic. Time for this one to get a grade. Cigar Street, winner Aug. 22 at Saratoga off 17-month layoff, back in stakes company against Carve and Departing.
Laurel. Ninth Race. 5:10. Chuck Lawrence has done well this year for Matthew Schera. They go with the Tapit colt Jet Streak in this 7-furlong maiden for juveniles.
Belmont. Ninth Race. 5:16. Seems like first time in ages Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic didn’t attract at least one European. Looks like re-run of Grade 1 Sword Dancer from Saratoga with top three – Main Sequence, Imagining and Twilight Eclipse – back along with Hangover Kid and the Ramsey’s Big Blue Kitten and Real Solution. Oh, and Medal Count.
Read what Graham Motion and Shug McGaughey think about the rematch between Main Sequence and Imagining.
Santa Anita Park. Fourth Race. 5:18. Nothing like a 2-year-old maiden on a big day. This one has 13 going 6 1/2, including a couple for Baffert and Hollendorfer.
Churchill Downs. Tenth Race. 5:20. War Front colt Battlefront makes first start in 2014 and in the U.S. after racing last season in France for Jean-Claude Rouget. Grade 3 Jefferson Cup also attracts Heart to Heart and Speightsland from Canada.
Gulfstream Park. Ninth Race. 5:30. Nice move to name stakes after Wasted Tears. Classy graded stakes-winning mare bred, owned and trained by Bart Evans a few years back.
Read more about Bart Evans and Wasted Tears in the June 5, 2010 edition of Thoroughbred Times.
Laurel. Tenth Race. 5:40. The Laurel Turf Cup for $100,000 attracts 14. Must not be many spots going 12 furlongs on grass left for the season.
Belmont. Tenth Race. 5:50. A dozen for the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup, including the first three from the Travers in V. E. Day, Wicked Strong and Tonalist. Blinkers off for Tonalist. Something feels right about the Belmont Stakes winner in this spot.
Watch the Travers Stakes.
Read about Jimmy Jerkens’ one-two finish in the Travers.
Watch Tonalist spoil California Chrome’s bid for the Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes.
Santa Anita. Fifth Race. 5:53. The Grade 1 Zenyatta features return of two-time champion Beholder. She’s got a lot to do between now and Oct. 31 if connections hope for a third Eclipse Award.
Laurel. 11th Race. 6:10. Hats off to Maryland Jockey Club racing office for another big stakes program and getting this one right. Laurel Dash brings it to a close and with the legendary Ben’s Cat in the field of 10, the race is placed perfectly on the program.
Santa Anita. Sixth Race. 6:25. Grade 1 FrontRunner will give good indication of California’s leading candidates for Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. American Pharoah and Calculator were one-two in Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity and they’re back, along with Best Pal winner Skyway for Mark Casse.
Santa Anita. Seventh Race. 7:05. Formerly the Yellow Ribbon, the Grade 1 Rodeo Drive draws Emollient and Irish Mission from the East Coast. Big field also features Moulin de Mougin, Parranda, Stormy Lucy and Miss Serendipity.
Santa Anita. Eighth Race. 7:40. Champion Shared Belief puts undefeated record on the line in Grade 1 Awesome Again. He won the Grade 1 Pacific Classic without the greatest of trips and should handle this group.
Watch Shared Belief win the Pacific Classic.
Remington Park. First Race. 8:00. The day before track’s big day with featured Oklahoma Derby and opener on strong card filled with good allowance and maiden races is state-bred allowance. Take a peak if you need more action while Santa Anita wraps.
Santa Anita. Ninth Race. 8:17. Unzip Me loved the downhill turf course so what better way to honor her than with the Unzip Me Stakes going 6 ½ down the hill? Graham Motion ships Saratoga stakes winner Stars Above Me from Fair Hill.
Santa Anita. 10th Race. 8:48. Just when you think the Grade 1s have run out the Chandelier for 2-year-old fillies rolls along. Todd Pletcher dispatches Angela Renee to the West Coast after distant third in the slop in Grade 1 Spinaway. Good ones are waiting, including Conquest Eclipse and Majestic Presence.
Santa Anita. 11th Race. 9:18. If you’re not ready for college football yet take a look at the finale, a 1-mile turf maiden for 2-year-olds.