by | 11.17.2010 | 12:47am

There are some big races at Saratoga, Arlington Park and Del Mar this weekend, highlighted by Commentator’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 Zenyatta’s bid for a 12th consecutive win in Sunday’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 year’s fields emphasize the international aspect of the Arlington  Festival, with Aidan O’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 seven—the allowance winner Tizway—who might put early pressure on Commentator.  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 ‘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 hasn’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 Zenyatta’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 channel’s big race broadcasts.

  • Tiznowbaby

    It irks me that great stories like Commentator going for a third Whitney and Zenyatta going for win No. gazillion are not going to be on ESPN. You’d think they would at least manage the Secretariat.

  • NMK

    thank you for this report, much appreciated

  • MED

    What a GREAT weekend of racing we have coming up! Oh yeah!

  • Emily

    Don’t forget the Hambletonian on NBC (yes, that NBC) beginning at 3:30 PM on Saturday, the only time harness racing is broadcasted on network television all year. They never show the undercard (inxcluding the Hambletonian Oaks andt 6 other big stakes), but The Meadowlands has live streaming up on their website!

  • Richard Coreno

    …and don’t forget to purchase products from the sponsor of this preview, if you need such goods and services.

  • Thank you and KBC both. This is a huge help.

  • Jean Lamb

    I also thank the RPR and KBC. This is extremely useful.
    Does anyone know why TVG will not list pedigrees in the post parade? It’s very limiting for us pedigree handicappers.

  • Don Reed

    Three cheers for the decision to put the TV shows in a schedule format.

    I remember trying to convince the BH that if they were serious about their moaning & groaning that racing TV coverage was next to non-existent –

    That they should relocate their OWN TV schedule from out of their weekly magazine’s mausoleum (next to the notices of which trainer got fined $25 for bad breath & the equine truss ads) – & display it up front, PROMINENTLY, somewhere in the first 10-15 pages.

    Oh What Success (was not attained).

    Coming down to Keeneland in October – does Liberation Farm conduct tours?

  • Helendmar

    I sincerely doubt that all 9 fillies and mares will stay in the race to face Zenyatta. Some of them entered on the off chance that the big mare wouldn’t go. Excitement abounds every time Zenyatta steps on the track and this Sunday will be no exception.

  • Steve

    Good call Helendmar – 3 scratches from the Hirsch as of 4:30 pm Central on race day. Patricia’s Gem, Briecat and Hot N’ Dusty are all out, leaving Zenyatta with only 6 competitors now.

  • Fabulously due posting this comment to depict that I visit your blog daily.

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