Throughout the year, the NTRA will provide a guide to the best stakes races in North America and beyond. Races are listed in chronological order (all times Eastern).
The quality and quantity of racing across the country continues to pick up as more tracks begin to reopen during the coronavirus pandemic. Full fields have been the norm at Churchill Downs since its return to live racing and the Louisville oval has an exceptional card on tap Saturday, highlighted by the Grade 3 Matt Winn Stakes. Santa Anita also offers graded stakes action with Grade 3 Daytona Stakes and Grade 2 Charlie Whittingham Stakes taking place Saturday ahead of its lineup on Memorial Day featuring the Grade 1 Gamely Stakes and Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile.
TVG will partner with NBC Sports to bring live horse racing into the homes of fans across the country for the ninth consecutive weekend with eleven hours of coverage scheduled from May 22-24. “Trackside Live” will be simulcast from 4 to 7 p.m. ET on Friday and from 4 to 8 p.m. ET on Saturday and Sunday. The coverage will feature racing from across the country including the $100,000 Daytona Stakes and the $200,000 Charlie Whittingham Stakes.
America's Day at the Races, produced by the New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) in partnership with FOX Sports, is now the exclusive broadcast home of the Churchill Downs spring meet, which will include 26 days of live racing and runs through June 27. This week's broadcast will be highlighted by Stephen Foster Preview Day set for May 23, from Churchill Downs with a stakes-laden card led by the Matt Winn Stakes, a 1/16-mile test offering 50-20-10-5 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the top-four finishers. Coverage will air on Saturday from 1:00 – 2:30 p.m. ET on FS2 and 2:30 – 6:30 p.m. ET on FS1.
On Monday, TVG will team up with NBC and the Breeders' Cup to feature a holiday card from Santa Anita including the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile, a part of the Breeders' Cup Challenge “Win and You're In” series in which the winner earns an automatic berth in the Breeders' Cup Mile. The coverage will air from 6 to 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN.
Saturday May 23
4:08 p.m.—$100,000 Shawnee Stakes at Churchill Downs on FS1
Peter Brant's Grade 1-winning filly Dunbar Road was made the 4-5 morning line favorite for her seasonal debut in Saturday's $100,000 Shawnee – part of 'Stephen Foster Preview Day'. Dunbar Road, winner of last year's Grade 1 Alabama Stakes at Saratoga, arrived May 14 at Churchill Downs with trainer Chad Brown's string of horses. Chief among Dunbar Road's rivals in the Shawnee is She's a Julie, winner of the 2019 G1 La Troienne Stakes at Churchill Downs. Trained by Steve Asmussen and ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr., She's a Julie was made the 2-1 second choice on the morning line.
4:40 p.m.—$100,000 Tepin Stakes at Churchill Downs on FS1
Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner Sharing was made the 3-1 co-morning line favorite along with undefeated Alms for the one-mile Tepin Stakes on the turf. Sharing, a daughter of Speightstown, has not been seen since her 1 ¼-length score in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Santa Anita. Trained by Graham Motion, Sharing's only blemish in her four-race career was a narrow third-place effort in her debut. Following the Breeders' Cup, Sharing was given a break but returned to Motion's Fair Hill training center in March and has been consistently working toward her sophomore debut. Abscond, winner of last year's G1 Natalma Stakes, is also among the field of 14 slated to run.
5:12 p.m.—$100,000 Blame Stakes at Churchill Downs on FS1
Multiple graded stakes winner Mr. Money will aim to return to his top form at his “home track” of Churchill Downs in Saturday's $100,000 Blame Stakes over one mile. Trained by Bret Calhoun, Mr. Money finished seventh in the $1 million Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile prior to his sixth-place effort in the $150,000 Oaklawn Mile – his first start as a 4-year-old. The 3-1 morning line favorite in the Blame is multiple graded stakes winner Owendale, who is set for his return following nearly six months on the sidelines. Trained by Brad Cox, Owendale will cut back in distance to one-turn for the first time since Sept. 2, 2018. G1 winner Discreet Lover and Everfast, runner-up in the 2019 Preakness Stakes, are also among the entrants.
5:39 p.m.—$100,000 Grade 3 Daytona Stakes at Santa Anita Park on NBCSN
Hronis Racing's versatile Cistron bids for his third straight victory as he heads a field of seven 3-year-olds and up going 5 ½ furlongs on turf in Saturday's Daytona Stakes. A winner of the G1 Bing Crosby Stakes on dirt last July, Cistron then took the G3 San Simeon Stakes at 5 ½ furlongs on turf on March 21 – earning back to back 100 Beyer Speed figures.
5:44 p.m.—$150,000 Grade 3 Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs on FS1
Godolphin's G1 winner Maxfield was made the 5-2 morning line favorite for his highly-anticipated 3-year-old debut in Saturday's $150,000 Matt Winn Stakes going 1 1/16-miles. Maxfield was one of the likely favorites for last year's $2 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile following his victory in the Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland but a minor ankle injury forced him to scratch and spend several months on the sidelines. Maxfield shipped back to Walsh's string of horses in South Florida but once the COVID-19 pandemic struck, he was forced to switch plans for his seasonal bow. Saturday's Matt Winn is the first race on the revised Road to the Kentucky Derby schedule.
6:16 p.m.—$100,000 War Chant Stakes at Churchill Downs on FS1
G3 Jeff Ruby Steaks winner Field Pass was made the lukewarm 4-1 choice on the morning line for the War Chant, which drew an overflow field to go one mile on the turf. Field Pass will shift from the Polytrack surface back to the turf in Saturday's race. Trained by Mike Maker, Field Pass captured the March 14 Jeff Ruby Steaks by a neck over the Wesley Ward-trained Invader.
7:18 p.m.—$200,000 Grade 2 Charles Whittingham Stakes at Santa Anita Park on NBCSN
A bicoastal showdown looms on Saturday at Santa Anita, as Richard Mandella's United and Chad Brown's eastern-based Rockemperor (IRE) head a field of seven 3-three-year-olds and up in the $200,000 Charles Whittingham Stakes at 1 ¼-miles on the turf. A recent victor over the course and distance on February 1, United retains the services of leading rider Flavien Prat, while Rockemperor, who is based in New York, will be ridden for the first time by current national earnings leader and two-time Eclipse Award winner, Irad Ortiz, Jr.
New to the Paulick Report? Click here to sign up for our daily email newsletter to keep up on this and other stories happening in the Thoroughbred industry.
Copyright © 2020 Paulick Report.