Weekend Stakes Preview 8/21

Travers Stakes is Saturday at Saratoga

The Grade 1 $1,250,000 Travers Stakes headlines the biggest card of the season at Saratoga on Saturday afternoon. Ten runners will compete in the mile and one quarter race with Bayern given the role of morning line favorite. Coming off his scintillating win in the Grade 1 Haskell, Bayern has drawn post position number two and should be the speed. If Bayern works out a trip similar to the one he had in the Travers Stakes, he could be very tough in this spot. The horses that could be close up early on include Tonalist and Wicked Strong. Tonalist set the pace when he won the Peter Pan Stakes and came from just off the pace when he won the Belmont Stakes. He followed that up with a second place behind Wicked Strong last time out in the Jim Dandy. Having that run over the track in the Jim Dandy could very well help both Tonalist and Wicked Strong. Wicked Strong was a late closing fourth in the Belmont and was ultra impressive winning the Jim Dandy last time in his Saratoga debut. Grade 1 turf winner Mr. Speaker will shift over to the main track and since he drew on the far outside in post 10 for the Travers, he may well send and try to get to the lead or close to it so he doesn’t lose too much ground going to the first turn.

The Grade 1 Ballerina at seven furlongs drew a field of nine to go seven furlongs. La Verdad has won 9 of her 12 starts and could be the controlling speed in the race. She’s a Grade 2 winner and can throw up a sub :22 second opening quarter. My Miss Aurelia is a multiple Grade 1 winner and will be making her second start off the layoff in the Ballerina. She lost to Better Lucky last time out who is also in the race, and she should be tougher 2nd off the layoff. Hot Stones could be a closer at a price to get up and hit the board.

The Grade 1 Kings Bishop drew eight runners and Wildcat Red will be cutting back in distance. He was third in the Haskell Invitational and will now go back to seven furlongs, a distance he’s 1 for 1 at. He should be on or near the pace, but it appears stakes newcomers Fast Anna and The Big Beast. Both have been putting up huge front running scores and will now test out their shots in Grade 1 company. The Grade 2 Ballston Spa features seven turf fillies and mares including Grade 1 Centre Court. Centre Court struggled in her two starts at the Spa last year and will be coming into the race off a short layoff. Abaco hasn’t won much as of late but always comes closing for a piece of the pie. Dayatthespa is a total hunch play because of her name, and the fact that she’s 3 for 4 at Saratoga. Selections for the Travers

  1. Bayern
  2. Commanding Curve
  3. Tonalist

Longshot: Kid Cruz Selections for the Ballerina

  1. My Miss Aurelia
  2. La Verdad
  3. Voodoo Tales

Longshot: Hot Stones Selections for the Kings Bishop

  1. Wildcat Red
  2. Coup De Grace
  3. The Big Beast

Longshot: C. Zee Selections for the Balston Spa

  1. Dayatthespa
  2. Abaco
  3. Filimbi

Longshot: Nellie Cashman

Sunday is the Pacific Classic at Del Mar

Del Mar will card the biggest day of races of the season on Sunday as the 11 race Pacific Classic Day card is set. The $1,000,000 Grade 1 feature drew a competitive field of 11 runners including the undefeated Shared Belief, who has been marooned out in post eleven. Shared Belief was a favorite on the Kentucky Derby trail before an injury sidelined him. He came back in the Los Alamitos Derby and crushed his opponents. Sunday will mark his first try against older runners and his first time squaring off against California legend Game on Dude. Game on Dude crushed his rivals in the Pacific Classic last year, but he’s been less than stellar so far this season. For him it will depend on how fast they go early and how little pressure he can manage to avoid early on. Shared Belief and Game on Dude should both be prominent early, as will Mystery Train and possibly Frac Daddy if they utilize his speed from the rail. Toast of New York has made the journey west and he’s coming off a sixth place effort in the Belmont Derby. The last time he was on a synthetic track he was taking home the $2,000,000 UAE Derby in Dubai.

The Grade 2 Pat O’Brien Stakes features several of the top runners coming out of the Bing Crosby Stakes earlier in the meet. Big Macher won that day and was able to hold off a late charging Goldencents, and both of them will be back on Sunday in the Pat O’Brien. Fed Biz was a dominant winner of the San Diego Handicap and instead of going to the Pacific Classic will cut back to the seven furlong Pat O’Brien. He’s a Del Mar specialist for trainer Bob Baffert as he’s 3 for 3 over the San Diego strip. The Grade 2 Del Mar Mile features defending champ Obviously looking to add another big win to his growing resume. Obviously is 3 for 3 in his career at Del Mar and comes into this race off a smashing win in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile last time out. If Alpha Bullet is able to go with him early it could set up for the closers like Tom’s Tribute or Rock Me Baby, but that’s a big if. Selections for the Pacific Classic

  1. Clubhouse Ride
  2. Shared Belief
  3. You Know I Know

Longshot: Majestic Harbor Selections for the Pat O’Brien

  1. Big Macher
  2. Fed Biz
  3. Goldencents

Longshot: Silentio Selections for the Del Mar Mile

  1. Obviously
  2. Rock Me Baby
  3. Tom’s Tribute

Longshot: Tigah

The Longacres Mile is Emerald Downs signature event

The Longacres Mile, the biggest race in the Pacific Northwest, will be run for the 79th time on Sunday. The Grade 3 $200,000 event drew a full field of twelve and is always one of the most exciting races of the summer. Stryker PHD is the 5/2 morning line favorite and has been the top older horse at Emerald this season. He took the Budweiser Emerald Handicap two starts back and followed that up with a stakes record performance in the Mt. Rainier Handicap. He’s got an off the pace style and with plenty of speed signed on, he could be dangerous down the lane. Title Contender will ship in from Hastings Race Course in Vancouver B.C., a track which has sent down the last two winners of the race. New York based Prohibition will make his first start for his new connections on the West Coast who purchased him privately after a fourth place finish in the $200,000 Commentator Handicap.

The Emerald Distaff is also on the card and features the incredibly talented Stopshoppingdebbie. Stopshoppingdebbie is undefeated and will be a prohibitive favorite in the race, with her stiffest competition possibly coming from her stable-mate Goin To The Windows. Selections for the Longacres Mile

  1. Stryker PHD
  2. Boyett
  3. Mysterious Soul

Longshot: Twist Grips Selections for the Emerald Distaff

  1. Stopshoppingdebbie
  2. Blueberry Smoothie
  3. Goin To The Window 

Saturday Stakes Action at

Charles Town

Race 8                  Frank Gall Memorial Stakes           10:11pm EST

Del Mar (Saturday)

Race 8                  Del Mar Handicap                         8:30pm EST

Del Mar (Sunday)

Race 5                  Del Mar Mile                                 6:00pm EST

Race 9                  Pat O’Brien                                   8:00pm EST

Race 10                Pacific Classic                            8:30pm EST


Race 10                  Forty Niner Stakes                             6:03pm EST


Race 11                Violet Stakes                                             5:59pm EST


Race 11                 Turning For Home Stakes                   5:08pm EST


Race 8                  Edward Debartolo Stakes                    11:15pm EST


Race 9                  Ballston Spa Stakes                            3:59pm EST

Race 10                Kings Bishop Stakes                          4:33pm EST

Race 11                Ballerina Stakes                                 5:08pm EST

Race 12                 Travers Stakes                                  5:45pm EST


Race 4                  Flaming Page Stakes                          2:39pm EST

Race 8                  Ontario Colleen Stakes                       4:53pm EST



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