Weekend Stakes Preview 7/16

Summer officially begins as Saratoga and Del Mar kick off

For most folks, summer starts after Memorial Day or on June 20th for the summer solstice.  But for horseplayers, the third week in July means summer officially starts as Saratoga and Del Mar kick off this week.  Opening day at Saratoga is on Friday and Saturday’s feature is the Grade 1 Diana Stakes for fillies and mares on the grass.  The race is a who’s who of talented turf runners and features numerous Grade 1 winners.  Emollient will make her Saratoga debut in the Diana and is coming off a heartbreaking loss to Miss Serendipity in the Grade 1 Gamely at Santa Anita.  She’s been training well for Bill Mott at Saratoga and could be a player in her first trip to the Spa.  Alterite will be making her first start in 2014 after a 2013 campaign that saw her win the Grade 1 Garden City and finish a late closing third in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf.  Her trainer Chad Brown is 29% off long layoffs like this and she picks up the services of Javier Castellano.  Stephanie’s Kitten was third in this race last year and will be trying to get back in form as she’s shown two lackluster efforts in 2014 thus far.  She picks up the riding services of Lafranco Dettori, the legendary European jockey who will ride at Saratoga.

Saratoga will run on a Wednesday through Monday schedule with the regular post time at 1:00pm EST.  Some of the highlights of the season include the $1,000,000 Travers Day card on Saturday August 23rd that will feature a special early first post time of 11:35am EST.  The Whitney Stakes will go on Saturday August 2nd and that card will feature a $750,000 guaranteed Pick 4. Selections for the Diana Stakes

  1. Alterite
  2. Discreet Marq
  3. Tannery

Longshot: Solid Appeal Selections for the Sanford Stakes

  1. Nonna’s Boy
  2. Cinco Charlie
  3. Silverhill

Longshot: Chocolate Wildcat

Del Mar opens up on Thursday July 17th 

Del Mar in sunny San Diego will open up for seven weeks of championship racing and fun in the sun on Thursday July 17th, racing through Wednesday September 3rd.  The racing will be conducted primarily on a Wednesday through Sunday schedule with first post at 5:00pm EST on most days, except on Fridays when the racing kicks off at 7:00pm EST.  Headlining the season will be the $1,000,000 Pacific Classic for older horses.  The Pacific Classic will top a card that will also feature the Grade 2 Pat O’Brien and Grade 2 Del Mar Mile on Sunday August 24th and will feature a special early first post of 4:00pm EST.

The opening weekend action is led by the Grade 2 San Clemente Handicap on Saturday and the Grade 1 Eddie Read on Sunday.  The San Clemente drew a field of twelve runners to compete on the grass.  The three year old fillies are led by Diversy Harbor who has been competing with the top three year old fillies on the west coast all year.  She was way off the pace last time and still ran on to finish second in the Grade 1 American Oaks behind Room Service.  My Conquestadory drew the far outside post and she’ll be making the second start of her sophomore campaign in the San Clemente.  She finished second last time out, beaten just a nose in the Grade 3 Selene at Woodbine. Selections for the San Clemente Handicap

  1. Tiz The Key
  2. Diversy Harbor
  3. My Conquestadory

Longshot: Sheza Smoke Show Selections for the Osunitas Stakes

  1. Premier Steps
  2. Moone’s My Name
  3. Rhagori

LOngshot: Spring Bloom

Nijinsky Stakes tops Woodbine Stakes Double

The $200,000 Grade 2 Nijinsky Stakes highlights a Saturday Stakes double north of the border at Woodbine Race Course.  Za Approval was second in his lone Woodbine start which was last year in the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile behind Wise Dan.  Za Approval struggled in his first few starts this season with a third place finish in the Grade 3 Poker Handicap his best effort.  Joe Bravo will climb aboard Za Approval on Saturday and the last time they paired up they won the Grade 3 Red Bank at Monmouth.  Five Iron drew right to Za Approval’s outside and could be the main danger to him in this spot.  He’s coming off a fifth place effort in the Manhattan behind a very tough Grade 1 field at Belmont.  His one time running over the grass at Woodbine he aired and won the Toronto Cup.  He’s a multiple Grade 3 winner and if he runs his race on Saturday could add a Grade 2 to his ledger.  Up With the Birds took home his lone Woodbine race as well, the $500,000 Breeders’ Stakes last year.  He’s a Grade 1 winner who has struggled in 2014, but it’s his third start off the layoff and he could come flying late. Selections for the Nijinsky

  1. Up With the Birds
  2. Five Iron
  3. Za Approval

Longshot: Really Sharp Selections for the Ontario Damsel Stakes

  1. Amethia
  2. On Rainbow Bridge
  3. Llanarman

Longshot: Regal Conqueror

Arlington Oaks tops Chicago Saturday

The $150,000 Arlington Oaks will top the bill on Saturday at Arlington Park as ten three year old fillies will vie at a mile and one eighth.  Aurelia’s Belle figures to be tough as she’s already a multiple Grade 3 winner and is coming off a win in the Regret Stakes at Churchill Downs, a race that saw her finish second but be put up via dq.  She’ll have to beat the likes of Stellaris who is coming off a second place finish in a $75,000 at Canterbury in a race where she swooped the field on the turn, opened up, but couldn’t last for the win.  Her lone prior start at Arlington Park was a seven length triumph over $75,000 allowance/optional claimers.  Interrupted has won three of her four career starts including the $100,000 Penn Oaks at Penn National last time out.  Interrupted has run exclusively on the turf thus far and this will be her first venture onto the synthetic.  Phaniebdancing could be an interesting price play in this spot as she’s flashed brilliance in her wins.  She stepped up to stakes company last time out and ran third and will get her first try over the Arlington surface in the Arlington Oaks.  She has been training over the course though and shows a series of very strong works leading into this race. Selections for the Arlington Oaks

  1. Interrupted
  2. Phaniebdancing
  3. Aurelia’s Belle

Longshot:  Stock Yard Hen 

Saturday Stakes Action at

Arlington Park

Race 7                  Arlington Oaks                                  5:00pm EST

Del Mar

Race 6                  Osunitas Stakes                                 7:30pm EST

Race 9                  San Clemente Handicap                    9:00pm EST

Ellis Park

Race 8                  Don Bernhardt Stakes                        5:25pm EST

Emerald Downs

Race 8                  Kent Handicap                                  8:39pm EST

Gulfstream Park

Race 10                  Skip Trial                                          6:03pm EST

Monmouth Park

Race 11                Desert Vixen Stakes                            5:59pm EST

Northlands Park

Race 7                  Count Lathum Handicap                     5:48pm EST

Race 8                  Fred Jones Handicap                          6:16pm EST

Prairie Meadows

Race 6                  Prairie Gold Juvenile                            9:44pm EST

Race 8                  Prairie Gold Lassie                              10:37pm EST


Race 8                  California Governor Handicap           8:15pm EST


Race 7                  Sanford Stakes                                  4:10pm EST

Race 10                 Diana Stakes                                     5:46pm EST


Race 5                  Ontario Damsel Stakes                     2:57pm EST

Race 8                  Nijinsky Stakes                                  4:30pm EST


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