There are some big races at Saratoga, Arlington Park and Del Mar this weekend, highlighted by Commentatorâ€™s bid for a third consecutive Whitney Handicap at Saratoga on Saturday, the International Festival of Racing the same afternoon featuring the trio of Grade 1 races–the Secretariat Stakes, Beverly D. and Arlington Million–and unbeaten Zenyattaâ€™s bid for a 12th consecutive win in Sundayâ€™s Grade 1 Clement Hirsch at Del Mar.
ESPN will be televising the Beverly D and Million from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Eastern, while HRTV will provide live coverage of the Secretariat. This yearâ€™s fields emphasize the international aspect of the ArlingtonÂ Festival, with Aidan Oâ€™Brien sending Black Bear Island over from Europe for the Secretariat and the Beverly D and Million each attracting three foreign runners. The invaders may have the upper hand in the Beverly D; horses trained by Alain de Royer-Dupre, Dermot Weld and Criquette Head are always dangerous. The Million will be a test to see how good Christophe Clement-trained Gio Ponti really is. The son of Tale of the Cat is coming off three consecutive Grade 1 wins at distances ranging from a mile to 1 3/8 miles, and he has shown a devastating closing kick.
The 8-year-old gelding Commentator only has one way of going, on the front end, and there appears to be only one horse in the field of sevenâ€”the allowance winner Tizwayâ€”who might put early pressure on Commentator.Â The Argentine horse Asiatic Boy figures to be very tough in the Whitney for Kiaran McLaughlin. Both TVG and HRTV will be showing the Whitney (post time at 5:47 p.m., just five minutes after the Arlington Million. The Test Stakes for 3-year-old fillies a half-hour earlier gives Saratoga its second Grade 1 race of the afternoon. Unbeaten Cat Moves (another by Tale of the Cat) will be very tough in there.
Out West, Del Mar will pack â€˜em in to see Zenyatta try to defend her crown in the Hirsch. She won the race last year (when it was a Grade 2 event) by only a length, turning in her patented stretch run to get the job done easily enough. The daughter of Street Cry hasnâ€™t scared anyone off though, as there will be a field of 10 for the 1 1/16-mile race. Life Is Sweet, second in Zenyattaâ€™s 2009 debut, the Milady at Hollywood Park, could be the biggest threat to end her remarkable streak.
The Clement Hirsch goes at 7 p.m. Eastern and is shown exclusively on TVG and the various sports channel that pick up the racing channelâ€™s big race broadcasts.
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