WEEKEND STAKES: WHERE TO WATCH brought to you by WEST POINT THOROUGHBREDS

by | 11.17.2010 | 12:48am


A multitude of graded stakes are on the country's racing agenda this holiday weekend as the summer season comes to a close. Most notable are the upcoming juvenile races, beginning Friday at Saratoga with the Grade 3 With Anticipation at 1 1/16 miles over turf. This will be a new surface for Lou Brissie, who with four starts, has the most experience of all here. Typhoon Slew blew away his competition by nearly 11 lengths while breaking his maiden at Ellis Park, and Sensational Slam ships in from Woodbine where he won two stakes from two starts.


On Saturday, 2-year-olds are in the spotlight at Del Mar and Monmouth Park. Wickedly Perfect, winner of the G3 Sorrento last out, will attempt to keep her 2-for-2 record intact in the G1 Darley Debutante. The field of a dozen also includes the second through fourth finishers in the Sorrento, A Z Warrior, Izshelegal and She'll Heir. Monmouth's Sapling has attracted G2 Sanford winner Maybesomaybenot, as well as a pair of other minor stakes winners Madman Diaries and Vengeful Wildcat.


Now in its fifth year at Saratoga, the G1 Woodward (1 1/8 miles on dirt) remains a bastion for older horses with championship aspirations. Though he suffered a narrow loss in the Whitney to Blame, Quality Road will be heavily favored over six others, which include Mine That Bird, still winless since the '09 Kentucky Derby, and Mythical Power, a Bob Baffert trainee who seems to prefer the dirt surface over Polytrack. Prior to the Woodward on Saturday, the Spa will present the G1 Forego, a seven furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and up. A contentious field of 11 will go postward led by Vineyard Haven (coupled with Girolamo) at 2-1. Both 3-1 on the morning line are Big Drama and Bribon, second and third in Alfred G. Vanderbilt (G1) last out. 


Also on Saturday, Arlington Park's feature is the G3 Washington Park Handicap for older horses going 1 3/16 miles. Giant Oak has been installed as the favorite at 2-1; he may be the class of the field, but hasn't been in the winner's circle in over a year. Among his challengers are Country Flavor, winner of the G3 Hanshin Handicap, and Gran Estreno, third in that race. Arlington has holiday racing on Monday and will run the G3 Pucker Up, a 1 1/8-mile turf contest for 3-year-old fillies.


Twirling Candy will be the public choice in the G2 Del Mar Derby contested on Sunday. The John Sadler-trained son of Candy Ride is unbeaten in three starts, with his most recent win coming on the opening day card in the Oceanside. Hot jock Joel Rosario will be aboard in the 1 1/8-mile test.


On Sunday, Saratoga hosts the G1 Spinaway, and on Monday, its counterpart, the G1 Hopeful, both at seven furlongs on the dirt. The Spinaway, for fillies, has attracted G3 Schuylerville winner Le Mi Geaux. The Rick Dutrow charge will face a quartet from Todd Pletcher's shedrow–Schuylerville runner-up Stopspendingmaria (coupled with Sky Hosoya), R Heat Lightning, and Valiant Passion. For good measure, Bob Baffert has entered Alienation, runner-up in the Aug. 15 G2 Adirondack. Sunday's undercard includes the G3 Saranac, a grass event for 3-year-olds at 1 3/16 miles.


The G3 Glens Falls (1 3/8 miles on turf for older females) is part of the closing day Saratoga program along with the Hopeful. Expected starters in the Hopeful are two impressive debut winners, Wine Police and Sovereign Default, while probable favorite will be Boys at Toscanova. After a runner-up effort in his first outing, the G3 Kentucky Juvenile, he was privately purchased and turned over to Rick Dutrow. The precocious son of Officer consequently broke his maiden in eye-catching fashion, winning by a dozen lengths.


Labor Day racing at Del Mar includes the Palomar Handicap, a G2 fixture for fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles on turf. The usual closing day feature of the Del Mar season, the G1 Del Mar Futurity, will be Wed., Sept. 8. J P's Gusto, winner of the Hollywood Juvenile Championship and Best Pal is pointed to the Futurity, as is Road Ready, winner of the Lost in the Fog at Golden Gate in his career debut. Sway Away, who finished second as the 3-2 favorite in Best Pal will miss the Futurity because of a minor injury. The field also is expected to include Western Mood, who was third in the Best Pal. Bob Baffert, nine-time winner of the Futurity, has not committed any of his horses to the race as of yet.

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