It's a big weekend of high-class turf racing north of the border and overseas, with eight of those races being “Win and You're In” for the Breeders' Cup. Plus ready or not, it's time once again to jump on the Road to the Kentucky Derby and Oaks, as Churchill Downs hosts the Iroquois and Pocahontas Stakes, also Breeders' Cup qualifying preps.
Saturday's card at Woodbine features a trio of graded stakes on the grass, led by the Grade 1 Ricoh Woodbine Mile and the Northern Dancer Turf.
Delta Prince, ridden by Javier Castellano and trained by Jimmy Jerkens, is the favorite in the Mile but he'll face a stiff challenge from European invaders Lord Glitters and Stormy Antarctic, among others.
The Northern Dancer, at 1 1/2 miles, includes a rematch of last year's top two finishers, Johnny Bear and Hawkbill, who were separated by a head. Even though he finished second in 2017, Hawkbill is a clear favorite heading into this year's race, based on his recent form in Britain and in Dubai, where he won the G1 Dubai Sheema Classic.
In addition to the two other graded stakes on Saturday's card at Woodbine, Sunday the Canadian track hosts a pair of historically important Breeders' Cup preps on the turf – the Natalma for 2-year-old fillies and the Summer Stakes, both Grade 1 (Can) races. They're also “Win and You're In” events for the Breeders' Cup juvenile turf races. Full fields of 14 and 13, respectively, are set to go.
Meanwhile at Churchill Downs, the official Road to the Kentucky Derby kicks off with the G3 Iroquois Stakes, led this year by a duo from the Steve Asmussen barn — Tight Ten and Tobacco Road. The Iroquois is also a Win and You're In for the BC Juvenile. Plus, a dozen 2-year-olds that could be pointing for the Juvenile Fillies will line up in the G2 Pocahontas Stakes.
Belmont Park's Saturday card features the G2 Sands Point for 3-year-old fillies on the turf, and don't forget it's a huge weekend of turf racing overseas, with five separate Breeders' Cup qualifiers at Leopardstown and Curragh Racecourse.
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