Weekend Stakes Preview 10/24

Fayette Stakes headlines Keeneland closing day, Churchill opens Sunday

Keeneland Race Course will finish up the fall meet on Saturday and Churchill Downs will kick off on Sunday, but the Fayette Stakes is sure to help make Keeneland go out in style.  Nine runners will compete in the mile and one eighth Grade 2 Fayette, including Willcox Inn.  Willcox Inn has primarily been a turf runner over the years, but he does have a couple of wins over the all weather surface, including a score in the Grade 3 Washington Park Handicap at Arlington Park in August.  He’ll have to face some other tough turfers who are making the switch to the synthetic as well.  Finnegan’s Wake only has a maiden and an allowance win on his ledger, but he’s Grade 1 placed and was most recently second in the Grade 2 Bowling Green Handicap at Belmont, where he just missed by half a length.  Lea will also be trying the synthetic for the first time and should appreciate the class relief as he’s been chasing horses like Wise Dan in recent starts.  Lea has done most of his best work over the grass and if he can have that form translate to the synthetic he’ll be very dangerous.

Sunday marks the opening day at Churchill Downs and as is tradition it will be the first Stars of Tomorrow day, a day that features all two year old races, including a pair of overnight stakes.  Churchill will be running from Sunday through November 30th and first post for the opening day Sunday card will be 12:40pm EST. Selections for the Fayette Stakes

  1. Lea
  2. Finnegan’s Wake
  3. Villandry

Longshot: Set The Sail

Huge Grade 1 Sunday at Woodbine

Woodbine Race Course in Toronto will feature a pair of huge Grade 1 events on Sunday with some of the top turf runners in the world competing.  The $1,000,000 International and the $500,000 EP Taylor are the two biggies on a big card at Woodbine.  Joshua Tree is back to defend his title in the Canadian International and will be looking for his first win since that race.  He was beaten fourteen lengths in his last start, but that was in the Arc in Paris, which is annually one of the toughest races in the world.  Forte Dei Marmi has exploded since coming back to Woodbine, rattling off three straight stakes wins, including the Grade 1 Northern Dancer.  Ken and Sarah Ramsey seem to win everything recently, and they will send out Hyper who comes into this race with two straight wins including the Grade 2 Bowling Green Handicap.  Seismos and Now We Can both figure to get some serious attention at the windows based on their strong form overseas and at long distances, as they’ll face a mile and a half in the Canadian International.

The EP Taylor is for the fillies and mares at 10 furlongs and Irish Mission could have a say in this race, whether she runs or not.  She’s entered in both the International and the EP Taylor and her connections said it depends on how the turf shapes up the day of the event.  She’s had some success at Woodbine and was recently fourth against the boys in the Northern Dancer.  Grade 2 winner Tannery drew the outside post but is coming off a very good second place in the Grade 1 Flower Bowl at Belmont and will get some attention.

The Woodbine card gets underway Sunday at 1:00pm EST. Selections for the Canadian International

  1. Forte Dei Marmi
  2. Seismos
  3. Hyper

Longshot: Slumber Selections for the EP Taylor

  1. Tannery
  2. Minkashi
  3. Irish Mission

Longshot: Colonial Flag

Jean Lafitte is final local prep for the Delta Jackpot

The $200,000 Jean Lafitte is the big final local prep for the $1,000,000 Delta Jackpot that is just a month away.  The Jean Lafitte drew a full field of ten to go the mile and drew a talented and diverse field.  Southern California shipper Guns Loaded was just fifth in the Del Mar Futurity, a Grade 1 event that saw him just miss by a length and a quarter.  Burning Warrior has already had some great success in the state of Louisiana, with a huge maiden win and then a four length score in a state-bred stakes at Louisiana Downs.  This will be his first try against open company and at a route of ground, but he’s certainly been impressive thus far.

Southern Blessing was second in the Grade 2 Sanford for trainer Steve Asmussen before getting beaten badly last time out in the Grade 1 Hopeful.  Southern Blessing shipped to Delta last week and promptly threw up a bullet workout.  Rise Up won the $100,000 Mountaineer Juvenile in his third start before running sixth in the Grade 3 Iroquois at Churchill last time out.  He picks up Delta Downs kingpin Gerard Melancon for the mount in the Jean Lafitte.

The Jean Lafitte is the 9th race at Delta Downs on Saturday evening and post time for the race is 10:28pm EST. Selections for the Jean Lafitte

  1. Burning Warrior
  2. Guns Loaded
  3. Rise Up

Longshot: Say Charlie

Wishing Gate could be tough in Saturday’s Autumn Miss at Santa Anita

Wishing Gate is getting some serious class relief on Saturday when she faces ten rivals in the $100,000 Autumn Miss Stakes.  Wishing Gate won the Grade 2 San Clemente Handicap two starts back and finished a very strong second last time out in the Del Mar Oaks, a Grade 1 event.  Gary Stevens will be climbing back on board for what will be the first start after a brief freshening for Wishing Gate.  She drew on the far outside, but as a deep closer she’ll probably drop back and be able to save ground.

Heir Kitty will be trying to stretch out in here as she’s predominantly sprinted so far in her career.  She’s capable on her best day, but will be dependent on a strong early pace.  Flashy Ways could be intriguing as she’s lightly raced and coming off a long layoff.  She just missed in the Grade 3 Miesque as a two year old and her last start in a Grade 3 was a decent fourth place finish.  Oscar Party shows up here on the grass after a very strong second in the Grade 2 Indiana Oaks over the slop.  She’s a stakes winner on the grass though, so the surface shouldn’t be an issue. Selections for the Autumn Miss

  1. Flashy Ways
  2. Wishing Gate
  3. Heir Kitty

Longshot: Wittgenstein

Saturday Stakes Action at


Race 8                  Kaiser Handicap                            4:00pm EST

Delta Downs

Race 9                  Jean Lafitte Stakes                          10:28pm EST

Golden Gate

Race 4                  Pike Place Dancer Stakes           5:14pm EST


Race 7                  Illini Princess Handicap               5:10pm EST


Race 9                  Fayette Stakes                               5:21pm EST

Santa Anita

Race 8                  Autumn Miss Stakes                    7:30pm EST


Race 7                  Norman Hall Stakes                     3:40pm EST

Turf Paradise

Race 7                  Walter Cluer Memorial                7:02pm EST


Race 6                  Fanfreluche Stakes                       3:20pm EST

Race 8                  Ruling Angel Stakes                      4:25pm EST

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