Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup highlights Keeneland Saturday
The $500,000 Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup tops another big weekend at Keeneland Race Course. Nine three year old fillies will go to post in what looks like a very wide open group. Belmont Oaks winner Minorette will look to bounce back off of a fourth place finish in the Grade 2 Lake Placid Stakes last time out. Crown Queen won the Lake Placid and comes into this race with a three race winning streak. She’s stepped right up the ladder for trainer Bill Mott who knows how to keep a horse going in peak form. A number of horses are coming out of the Grade 2 Sands Point Stakes at Belmont Park, including Ball Dancing who won the race in her North American debut. The Chad Brown trainee rallied from far off the pace to get up and win over Sea Queen who was third and Daring Dancer who finished sixth. Daring Dancer won the Grade 2 Lake George two starts back but had no response running into a bit of a slow pace in the Sands Point. One thing Daring Dancer does have going for her is that she ran one of the best races of her career at Keeneland, a Grade 3 score in the Appalachian last April.
Sistas Stroll and Aurelia’s Belle both ship in from Arlington Park as both ran in the Grade 3 Pucker Up. Sistas Stroll rallied from off the pace to win the Pucker Up while Aurelia’s Belle was very wide on the first turn and never mounted a challenge. Both runners will be making their first starts over the Keeneland turf. Personal Diary is shipping back east coming off a huge win in the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks. Personal Diary had lost eight straight races before that big win
BetPTC.com Selections for the QE II Challenge
- Ball Dancing
- Daring Dancer
- Crown Queen
Longshot: Aurelia’s Belle
Knickerbocker Stakes tops Belmont Saturday
The $200,000 Knickerbocker Stakes is the top event on a ten race card on Saturday at Belmont Park. Eight fillies and mares have been entered to go on the grass including former Grade 1 winner Up With The Birds. Up With the Birds is coming out of the Grade 1 Arlington Million where he finished fourth. Prior to that he took home the Grade 2 Nijinsky Stakes at Woodbine and he’s returning to Belmont Park where he won the Grade 1 Jamaica Handicap last season. Cornelio Velasquez will once again be on board as he was last on board for the win in the Jamaica. Za Approval is coming off a win in a listed stake at Belmont Park and on his best days he’s very tough. He was second to Wise Dan last year in the Breeders’ Cup Mile and he’s a very solid 3 for 6 at Belmont Park.
Speaking of Which is a horse who has struggled at Belmont, having never hit the board in three starts over the grass there. But he is coming off a nice win in the Grade 2 Monmouth Stakes last time out and he’s very capable of putting up a big number on his best day. Mshawish is coming off a win in allowance company and he was a very highly thought of runner coming over from Meydan earlier this year. The Pletcher trainee will need to step it up a few notches to contend with this cast.
BetPTC.com Selections for the Knickerbocker
- Up With the Birds
- Speaking of Which
- Za Approval
Best of Ohio will be run at Belterra Park on Saturday
The biggest day of racing at the new Belterra Park will be run on Saturday, with five races worth a total of $750,000 making up the Best of Ohio. Five $150,000 events will take place, including a pair of races for two year olds, a sprint for the older boys, a distaff for the older girls, and the $150,000 Endurance. The Endurance is a ten furlong event for Ohio breds that saw 16 horses enter the body of the field. Fuzzy Dee Jay has been a mainstay in the stakes events in Ohio this year and was just second behind Silver Tongued in the Governor’s Buckeye Cup. Both are deep closers that can run all day, so the distance shouldn’t be an issue. The pace should come from Stormin Larry who likes to go fast early and open up a big lead. He wasn’t able to hold that lead last time when he ran third in the Governor’s Buckeye Cup after leading by two lengths at the eighth pole. Shakeyogroovething has been running in eleven furlong races at Indiana recently and competed in the Presque Isle route series races before that. The distance isn’t the question, but the class could be an issue for Shakeyogroovething.
The action at Belterra Park gets underway at 1:30pm EST, with the Best of Ohio races slated for races 4 through 8.
BetPTC.com Selections for the Best of Ohio Endurance
- Fuzzy Dee Jay
- Silver Tongued
Longshot: Wild Bling
Full field to contest the California Distaff at Santa Anita
State bred fillies and mares will sprint down the hill in the $100,000 California Distaff Handicap. Tribal Spy has been assigned the role of high weight for the race and is a Grade 3 winner coming down the hill. She’s 3 for 7 down the hill and since the hillside is such a unique course, it’s always good to look for horses that can run well down it. Ciao Bella Luna is another who has fared well going down the hill and is making her return off the layoff. She was last seen running fifth behind Tribal Spy in the Las Cinegas. She did win the Sunshine Millions Turf Sprint down the hill and did so when she was close to the pace throughout. Since there isn’t a lot of speed in this race, her best effort could be being close up to the pace. The pacesetter could be Velvet Mesquite who has won her last two starts going down the hill. She draws the outside post, which is actually an advantage on the hillside course and she’s 4 for 5 over the course. If she’s able to relax at all early on then Mike Smith could be very tough to catch down the lane.
BetPTC.com Selections for the California Distaff
- Velvet Mesquite
- Ciao Bella Luna
- Go West Marie
Longshot: Warren’s Veneda
Saturday Stakes Action at BetPTC.com
Race 8 Knickerbocker Stakes 4:27pm EST
Race 4 John Galbreath Stakes 2:59pm EST
Race 5 Juvenile Stakes 3:30pm EST
Race 6 Best of Ohio Sprint 4:01pm EST
Race 7 Best of Ohio Distaff 4:32pm EST
Race 8 Best of Ohio Endurance 5:03pm EST
Race 8 Harvest Stakes 7:45pm EST
Gulfstream Park West
Race 4 Eight Miles West Stakes 2:39pm EST
Race 9 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup 5:13pm EST
Race 7 Plum Pretty Stakes 3:08pm EST
Race 8 Cornucopia Stakes 3:34pm EST
Race 9 First Responder Stakes 4:01pm EST
Race 9 California Distaff Handicap 8:00pm EST
Race 8 Victorian Queen Stakes 4:35pm EST