Weekend Stakes Preview 7/23

Friday is opening day at Saratoga

Friday begins possibly the most prestigious meet in all of U.S. racing as the annual summer season at Saratoga gets underway. Championship racing will be conducted through Labor Day with racing every day of the week except Tuesday. First post will regularly be at 1pm with some notable exceptions on big days including the signature day of the season, the Travers Stakes Day card which begins at 11:45am EST.

The opening Saturday action is topped off by the Grade 1 Diana Stakes fillies and mares on the grass. A field of seven is slated to go including Stephanie’s Kitten who is a multiple Grade 1 winner and just missed winning this race last year by a neck. Stephanie’s Kitten was fourth last time out in the Grade 2 New York behind Waltzing Matilda who she’ll face once again in here. That was just Stephanie’s Kitten’s second start of the season and she was gaining late to only miss by a length. Even at the age of six she’s dangerous from off the pace. Tepin will try stretching out in the Diana to nine furlongs as she’s won three straight at shorter distances, including the Grade 1 Just a Game last time out. She’s 0 for 2 at this distance and should be stalking from just behind the leaders. Whether she’ll have the same late punch is the question. Christophe Clement will send out multiple Grade 1 winner Hard Not To Like in the Diana. She came from well off the pace to win the Grade 1 Gamely last time out at Santa Anita. She’s turned in three of her best lifetime starts since moving to the barn of Clement.

The Grade 2 Sanford for two year olds also goes on Saturday with eleven runners entered. He’s Comin In Hot has rattled off two wins so far in his career including a score in the Grade 3 Bashford Manor in his last start. Both his wins have been wire to wire and his two defeats happened when he didn’t get the lead. Cocked and Loaded will be trying to catch He’s Comin in Hot late as he’s two for two with two closing wins. He took the $250,000 Tremont Stakes, beating a few of the rivals he’ll face in the Sanford. Selections for the Diana

  1. Hard Not To Like
  2. Stephanie’s Kitten
  3. Kitten’s Queen

Longshot: Waltzing Matilda Selections for the Sanford

  1. Cocked and Loaded
  2. Uncle Vinny
  3. Magna Light

Longshot: Payne’s Prairie 

San Diego Handicap tops Del Mar Saturday Stakes Double

It’s another big weekend of racing by the Sea as Del Mar has another big Saturday on tap. The Grade 2 San Diego tops the card as it’s the main local prep for the Pacific Classic which comes up next month. Bob Baffert will send out a potent pair in Bayern and Hoppertunity. Bayern is looking to get back to his 2014 form that saw him win the Breeders’ Cup Classic along with a slew of other graded stakes. He’s been crushed in both his starts this season though and will have to have a total turn around to contend. Hoppertunity meanwhile comes into the race having just missed by a nose in the Grade 1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita. He’ll be making his Del Mar debut but he rarely misses a dance and has only been out of the trifecta in 2 of his 11 career starts. Catch a Flight was third in the Gold Cup after rattling off a pair of graded stakes wins in his two prior starts.

The $200,000 Fleet Treat Stakes features Sheer Pleasure who crushed some of these same rivals when running in Cal bred stakes earlier this year. Last time out she finished third in the Grade 2 Summer Oaks at Santa Anita behind the very talented Stellar Wind. There are no Stellar Wind’s in here so expect her to be heavily favored. Tim Yakteen will send out an interesting runner in the form of Big Book. Big Book is 2 for 2 so far with a couple of nice state-bred wins. This will be a bit of a class test but she’s cutting back a bit in distance and could make another move forward which would put her right in the mix.

Also Sunday is the running of the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Stakes for older sprinters. Selections for the San Diego Handicap

  1. Hoppertunity
  2. Catch a Flight
  3. Appealing Tale

Longshot: Majestic City Selections for the Fleet Treat

  1. Sheer Pleasure
  2. Big Book
  3. Missy Mouse

Longshot: Kiss at Midnight

Ontario Matron is part of big Saturday at Woodbine

The $150,000 Grade 3 Matron Stakes is the feature on a solid card at Woodbine on Saturday that also features the $125,000 Colin Stakes. Strut the Course is the one to beat after winning the Grade 2 Dance Smartly Stakes in her last start. She’s a multiple graded stakes winner and owns a bit of a class advantage over many in this race. Checkered Past also comes into the Matron off a stakes win by virtue of her score in the $100,000 Trillium Stakes. Actually her last two wins have been in the Trillium Stakes as she won it in 2014 as well as this year. Her only venture into graded stakes company resulted in a sixth place finish, beaten twelve lengths by Skylander Girl who is also in the Ontario Matron. Skylander Girl returns to the main track after trying some tough mares on the grass in her last two. Her last main track start at Woodbine was that win in the Grade 3 Hendrie Stakes.

The $125,000 Colin Stakes features eight two year olds is filled with recent maiden breakers. Feelin Groovy was very impressive in his debut, drawing off by four lengths underneath jockey Eurico Da Silva. Hollywood Hideaway tried stakes runners in his debut and fared well, getting caught in the final jumps and finishing second in the Victoria Stakes. Based on that classy effort he’ll likely go favored and should be up on the front end battling it out. Selections for the Ontario Matron

  1. Skylander Girl
  2. Strut the Course
  3. Copper Kitten

Longshot: Uchenna Selections for the Colin Stakes

  1. Hollywood Hideaway
  2. Feelin Groovy
  3. The Zip Zip Man

Longshot: Mykonos

Saturday Stakes Action at

Arapahoe Park

Race 8                  CTBA Breeders’ Oaks                5:55pm EST

Del Mar

Race 3                  Fleet Treat Stakes                    6:09pm EST

Race 8                  San Diego Handicap                8:40pm EST


Race 4                  Sunset Stakes                          8:01pm EST

Race 7                  Opelousas Stakes                     9:22pm EST

Race 9                  Turf Express Stakes                10:19pm EST

Gulfstream Park

Race 2                  Monroe Handicap                      1:48pm EST

Race 9                  Bear’s Den Stakes                     5:41pm EST

Monmouth Park

Race 11               Jersey Shore Stakes                           5:46pm EST

Northlands Park

Race 7                  Edmonton Juvenile Stakes                  6:00pm EST


Race 6                  Crowd Pleaser Handicap             3:10pm EST

Race 8                  Power By Far Handicap              4:04pm EST

Prairie Meadows

Race 8                  Prairie Meadows Handicap          10:37pm EST


Race 9                  Sanford Stakes                         5:32pm EST

Race 10                 Diana Stakes                            6:07pm EST


Race 7                  Miss Ohio Stakes                       3:55pm EST


Race 4                  Colin Stakes                             2:28pm EST

Race 8                  Ontario Matron Stakes               4:41pm EST






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