It's a big weekend of racing one week prior to the Belmont Stakes, with dual Grade 1 events featured on the card at Santa Anita Saturday.
The action kicks off with the G3 Pennine Ridge Stakes at Belmont Saturday afternoon, in which 3-year-olds will contest a mile and an eighth on the turf. Camelot Kitten is heavily favored for Chad Brown off his victory in the American Turf Stakes at Churchill on Derby Day, but he could face a challenge from both stablemate Converge, a graded stakes winner early in the season at Gulfstream, and from Todd Pletcher's Azar, most recently fifth in the American Turf.
At Churchill, sprinters will tackle the Grade 3 Aristides over six furlongs on the main track. Favored is Limousine Liberal, whose record boasts a second-place finish in the G1 King's Bishop last year, though he was most recently sixth after setting the pace in the Churchill Downs Stakes on Derby Day. He will face a gritty contender in 7-year-old Alsvid, who has put together a solid string of on-the-board efforts despite not having won a race since last year's Aristides.
At Penn National, Catch A Glimpse will take on the boys in the $500,000 Penn Mile. A Grade 3 event at a mile on the turf, the race has drawn a well-matched field of seven, with the filly drawing slight favoritism at 2-1 on the morning line. The Canadian Horse of the Year will have to fend off challenges from stablemate Airoforce, most recently fourth in the American Turf, Beach Patrol, second in the American Turf, and Oscar Nominated, winner of the Spiral Stakes and 17th in the Kentucky Derby.
On to the star-packed card at Santa Anita, fan-favorite Heart to Heart will line up in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile. The front-running Brian Lynch trainee will have to fend off challenges from the multiple Grade 1-placed Tourist, as well as the late-running, multiple graded stakes-placed Twentytwentyvision. The Shoemaker drew a six-horse field, also including last year's second-place finisher Midnight Storm and recent graded stakes-winner Home Run Kitten.
The highlight of the card will be the Vanity Mile (G1), when three-time Eclipse Award winning Beholder takes to the track for the second time this year. An easy winner in her first start of the year, Beholder will face much tougher competition from some of the best filly and mare dirt horses in the country in the Vanity. Stellar Wind, last year's Eclipse Award-winning champion 3-year-old filly, will be making her first start off the layoff since finishing second by just a neck in the Breeders' Cup Distaff last year. Also in the field is Taris, winner of the G1 Humana Distaff at Churchill Downs, shipping west to take on the big fillies at Santa Anita. Not to be forgotten, though offering much longer odds, are Grade 2 winners Lost Bus and Finest City, both recently successful on the step up in class.
On Sunday, the Grade 3 Red Bank Stakes highlights Monmouth Park's card. At one mile on the turf, the race has drawn multiple graded stakes winners Vyjack and Reporting Star, as well as graded winners Middleburg and Golden Sabre, and multiple graded-placed Fredericksburg. Finally, the action closes out Sunday with the Grade 2 Connaught Cup from Woodbine, covering seven furlongs on the turf. A compact field has drawn dueling favoritism between graded winner Passion For Action and 2015 Sovereign Award Champion Sprinter Stacked Deck.
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