This weekend's graded stakes action is highlighted by a pair of races restricted to sophomores, one in New York and one in Kentucky. It is also the opening weekend of Del Mar's Bing Crosby season, and the talented filly Enola Gray will take on a field of five other California-breds in Sunday's listed Betty Grable Stakes where the turf meets the surf.
Kicking things off on Saturday is the G3 Red Smith Handicap at Aqueduct, in which a field of 11 will contest 11 furlongs over the turf. The Chad Brown-trained Wake Forest, narrowly beaten last out to finish third in the G1 Canadian International, gets a bit of class relief here and is the deserved favorite. Both Messi and Danish Dynaformer have been performing well at Woodbine this season, while trainer Mike Maker is shipping the gelding Bigger Picture up north in search of his first graded stakes win off a second in Keeneland's G3 Sycamore by a nose.
In Aqueduct's G3 Discovery Handicap on Saturday, a field of 11 sophomores will contend with a nine-furlong course over the main track. Gift Box will be returning to the races for the first time since he was fourth in the G1 Travers Stakes, but he will face tough competition from Adulator and Governor Malibu. Other graded stakes runners in the field include Sunny Ridge, Sticksstatelydude, Wild About Deb and My Man Sam.
At Churchill Downs on Saturday, a field of 11 sophomores will try the turf course in the G3 Commonwealth Turf Cup, held over 1 1/16 miles. The race favorite, One Mean Man, has won four of his last five starts in stakes company and will look to continue his success for trainer Bernie Flint. Major contenders include Queen's Plate victor Sir Dudley Digges, G3 Arlington Classic winner Surgical Strike, and recent allowance victors Bondurant, Tizzarunner, and Blackout. Also, multiple stakes winner Discreetness will be making his second start off a five-month layoff, and also his second lifetime start on the turf.
On Sunday, Enola Gray is listed as the 3-5 morning-line favorite in the listed Betty Grable Stakes at Del Mar. The winner of four of her five lifetime starts nearly broke a track record on debut in April, and the seven-furlong dirt distance should be well within the versatile filly's wheelhouse.
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