WEEKEND STAKES: WHERE TO WATCH brought to you by KBC Horse Supplies
The pace really heats up this weekend. Eleven graded stakes will be televised on HRTV or TVG in just under three hours on Saturday, including five G1 events from Belmont Park (shown on both HRTV and TVG). On Sunday, beginning at 9 a.m. (all times Eastern), HRTV will televise several races from Longchamp in Paris, France, including the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, one of the world's great races which this year will showcase the world's No. 1 ranked horse according to the World Thoroughbred Rankings compiled by the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities. Post time for the Arc is scheduled at 10:15 a.m.
But wait– as they say on those TV commercial pitches—there's more. Saturday also features the California Cup program from the Oak Tree meeting at Santa Anita, host for the second consecutive year of the Breeders' Cup world championships. On Sunday, the West's biggest preps for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and Juveniles Fillies, the Norfolk and Oak Leaf Stakes, will be contested at Oak Tree, and three key turf preps for the Breeders' Cup, the Kelso Handicap and a pair of grass stakes, the Pilgrim and Miss Grillo, will be run.
Saturday's 91st running of the Jockey Club Gold Cup features a rematch between 3-year-olds Summer Bird, winner of the Belmont Stakes and Travers, and Florida Derby winner Quality Road, who was third in the Travers. The 4-year-old Macho Again, whose stretch rally against filly sensation Rachel Alexandra came up a head short in the Woodward at Saratoga, is the most accomplished older horse in the line-up.
Post time for the Jockey Club Gold Cup is 5:43 p.m. A little more than a half-hour earlier, at 5:09 p.m., Gio Ponti guns for his fifth consecutive G1 victory in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational at a mile and a half, the longest distance the son of Tale of the Cat has ever raced.
Don't forget about Chicago's big race, the 73rd Hawthorne Gold Cup, which goes at 5:14 p.m. Saturday. If Awesome Gem runs the kind of race he is capable of, it could be the start of huge parlay for owner West Point Thoroughbreds, which also campaigns Macho Again.
Shifting out West to Sunday, the Norfolk will feature the unbeaten Lookin at Lucky, a Bob Baffert-trained 2-year-old colt coming off a victory in the Del Mar Futurity, a one-turn race at seven furlongs. The Norfolk and the Oak Leaf will be the West Coast's first major tests for 2-year-olds going around two turns at the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and Juvenile Fillies distances of 1 1/16 miles. The Norfolk goes at 7 p.m., one hour after the Oak Leaf, which became a wide-open affair following the injury earlier this week of Mi Sueno, the likely favorite.