A big weekend of graded stakes action awaits racing fans as some of the nation's top Thoroughbreds will make their final starts before the Breeders' Cup. A grand total of seven “Win and You're In” stakes highlight the Saturday card across the country.
Starting things off on Friday, the Grade 3 Eddie D Stakes has been split into two races at Santa Anita Park, each with 11 entrants and two also-eligibles contested at about 6 1/2 furlongs on the downhill turf course. The first section features Lady Shipman for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, seeking her third win in a row and sixth win of the year en route to the Breeders' Cup. The second section highlights a tough match-up between Ohio, Guns Loaded, Holy Lute and Toowindytohaulrox.
Saturday at Gulfstream is the final round of the Florida Sire Stakes series, in which the undefeated Cajun Delta Dawn and Three Rules will attempt to maintain their perfect records in their respective divisions.
Kicking off Saturday's graded stakes action is the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic, a Belmont Park “Win and You're In” for the Breeders' Cup Longines Turf. Only three other horses will line up in the gate to face Flintshire, undefeated since moving to trainer Chad Brown's barn earlier this year. His stablemate Money Multiplier will look to improve off a big effort last out, while Group 1 winner Ectot will make his first stateside start in stakes company for trainer Todd Pletcher. Twilight Eclipse rounds out the field.
Up next at Belmont is the G2 Gallant Bloom Handicap, in which Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint champion Wavell Avenue will look to get back on top of her division. She faces a pair of tough contenders in multiple graded stakes winner Paulassilverlining, and multiple graded stakes-placed Wonder Gal, winner of an impressive allowance start at Saratoga last out off the layoff.
In Belmont's G3 Pilgrim Stakes, juveniles will line up over 1 1/16 miles on the turf course. Leading the field will be a son of Kitten's Joy named Oscar Performance trained by Brian Lynch, while Chad Brown trains the second-choice on the morning line, Oiseau de Guerre.
Down at Churchill Downs, Runhappy will make his long-awaited return to the races in the G3 Ack Ack Handicap, racing over a one-turn mile. He is heavily favored in the six-horse field off a lengthy layoff, but Tom's Ready may well pose a threat over his home racecourse.
Back in New York, the Grade 1 Vosburgh is a “Win and You're In” for the Breeders' Cup Twinspires Sprint. Dual Grade 1 winner A. P. Indian is on a roll lately for trainer Arnaud Delacour, but the talented X Y Jet is returning from a layoff in this spot to try to earn his way to the Breeders' Cup. X Y Jet was most recently a very good second on Dubai World Cup day in the Group 1 Golden Shaheen in March, but has been working well toward his return. Also in the field are the good sprinters Holy Boss, Stallwalkin' Dude, and Joking.
Closing out Belmont's action is the Grade 1 Beldame Stakes at nine furlongs over the main track for fillies and mares. Forever Unbridled is the heavy morning-line favorite, but Off the Tracks will be stretching out in distance and could be dangerous. Paola Queen was a surprise upset in the G1 Test at Saratoga last out and makes her first start back since that race here.
Down at Santa Anita Park, juveniles will contest the G1 Frontrunner for a spot in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Leading the field is the Bob Baffert-trained Klimt, last out winner of the Del Mar Futurity over rival Straight Fire, also in this field of seven.
Up next, California Chrome will face a field of six others in the G1 Awesome Again Stakes, seeking a berth to the Breeders Cup Classic. The champion is undefeated this year, including victories in the Dubai World Cup and in the Pacific Classic over Beholder. Familiar rivals Dortmund, Hoppertunity and Hard Aces will all line up against the Art Sherman trainee in what will be his final prep for the Breeders' Cup.
Up at Hastings Racecourse in Canada, a group of seven will contest the BC Premier's Handicap over 1 3/8 miles. Leading the field is Ontario-bred Killin' Me Smalls, though Florida-bred Sorryaboutnothing will be tough in this spot.
In Santa Anita's G1 Rodeo Drive, fillies and mares will contest 10 furlongs over the turf for a berth in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf. Leading the 14-horse field is Zipessa off a strong third in Arlington's Grade 1 Beverly D last out, though she will be facing tough competition from Elektrum, Sobradora Inc, and Avenge.
Hastings offers a second graded stake on Saturday, the G3 Ballerina, for fillies and mares over nine furlongs. Touching Promise and and Snuggles lead the field of six.
In the G1 Zenyatta, a rematch between Beholder and Stellar Wind will decide a berth to the Breeders' Cup Distaff at Santa Anita. Beholder holds a slight edge on the morning line over the field of five, but Stellar Wind defeated the champion mare in their last meeting.
Santa Anita's G1 Chandelier features juvenile fillies over 1 1/16 miles, seeking a berth to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. American Cleopatra, full sister to American Pharoah, will look to step back up after a defeat in her last start. Champagne Room will try to better her after finishing behind the royally-bred filly last out, along with Noted and Quoted.
A field of 16 is set to contest the Group 1 Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe Sunday with favorite Postponed drawing an ideal spot in stall seven. The Roger Varian-trained Postponed is gunning for his fifth straight stakes win, while also attempting to remain undefeated this year.
Sunday at Belmont, a Chad Brown-trained trio of juvenile fillies will line up for the G3 Miss Grillo Stakes over 1 1/16 miles on the turf. Leading the field of seven is his trainee Create a Dream off two starts at Ascot.
Santa Anita's Sunday card includes the G2 John Henry Turf Championship over 10 furlongs on the grass. Ashleyluvssugar leads the field for trainer Peter Eurton, though the field of 12 will offer up tough competition, including Metaboss, Messi, and Flamboyant.
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