Weekend Stakes Preview 8/27

American Pharoah tops the Travers Day card at Saratoga

Saturday will be the biggest racing day of the summer as the Grade 1 Travers Stakes not only tops a massive card at Saratoga, but sees American Pharoah coming into town. The Triple Crown winner is coming off a huge win in the Haskell Invitational and will now set his sights on the summer’s biggest prize, the Travers. American Pharoah didn’t scare away his rivals though as nine three year olds will line up against him, including Texas Red. Texas Red is coming off a nice win in the Jim Dandy Stakes and this is the match up that many fans have been waiting to see as Texas Red missed the Triple Crown trail. Keen Ice is back to challenge American Pharoah after finishing second to him in the Haskell last time out. Frosted will also contend the Travers after finishing second to Texas Red in the Jim Dandy. At 1/5 morning line odds, American Pharoah figures to be a huge favorite, but he is trying Saratoga for the first time which can be tricky.

The undercard as expected is loaded with Grade 1 races and some amazing betting opportunities. The Grade 1 Sword Dancer features the usual cast of characters in this division like Imagining, Twilight Eclipse, and War Dancer. But joining the cast is Flintshire who was second in the Breeders’ Cup Turf last year and has been competing well in Group 1’s in Europe recently. Private Zone will headline the Grade 1 Forego Stakes for the older sprinters. Private Zone is always tough on the lead but he’ll have some tough runners chasing him including the Big Beast who was most recently second in the Grade 1 Vanderbilt Stakes. Salutos Amigos also shows up here and on his best day he is a major player. The very fast Race Day shows up in this spot for trainer Todd Pletcher and draws the rail. He found most of his success at two turns but if he can work out a trip at seven furlongs he could be dangerous.

The King’s Bishop is annually one of the most intriguing betting races around and this year is no exception. Competitive Edge will get back to sprinting which is his best game, but his confidence has to be low after two straight defeats. There are a few very lightly raced runners with ability who might deserve a look including Watershed. He got a big speed figure in an impressive maiden race at Saratoga and while he’s taking a big step up in class, he’s clearly talented and well bred. The Grade 1 Ballerina is loaded with speed and sees La Verdad looking for her fifth straight win. She likes to rock n roll out of the gate though and she’ll have to turn away a few others in here with lots of early gas. The Grade 1 Personal Ensign is for the older fillies and mares and will showcase Stopchargingmaria who has been a whiz at Saratoga. With 4 wins from 5 starts locally she’ll be the one to beat. The massively talented Untapable is also in this race but will have to make up a length on Stopchargingmaria who beat her last time out in the Shuvee. Selections for the Travers

  1. American Pharoah
  2. Texas Red
  3. Frosted

Longshot: King of New York Selections for the Sword Dancer

  1. Flintshire
  2. Imagining
  3. War Dancer

Longshot: Guardini Selections for the Forego

  1. Falling Sky
  2. Private Zone
  3. The Big Beast

Longshot: Viva Majorca Selections for the Kings Bishop

  1. Holy Boss
  2. Runhappy
  3. Watershed

Longshot: Limousine Liberal Selections for the Ballerina

  1. Dame Dorothy
  2. La Verdad
  3. Sarah Sis

Longshot: Street Story Selections for the Personal Ensign

  1. Stopchargingmaria
  2. Sheer Drama
  3. Untapable

Longshot: Got Lucky

$300,000 Smarty Jones Stakes is Parx Saturday feature

Parx is revving up for a big next couple of months of racing and the Grade 3 $300,000 Smarty Jones Stakes will get things going. The Smarty Jones is the final local prep for the Pennsylvania Derby which comes up next month. Divining Rod has been made the 9/5 favorite in the Smarty Jones and is coming off three straight third place finishes. Last out he was third in the Indiana Derby, a Grade 2 event. Souper Colossal is coming off maybe his best effort, a second place finish in the Grade 2 West Virginia Derby. He has good tactical speed and proved his class in that race and figures to be a logical play in here. A long shot that’s coming out of the West Virginia Derby is Thirtysilverpieces. He was 73/1 in the West Virginia Derby and ran fifth and didn’t disgrace himself at all. He seems to be brimming with confidence since the barn change four starts back and at 12/1 on the morning line might be worth a play. Selections for the Smarty Jones Stakes

  1. Souper Colossal
  2. Thirtysilverpieces
  3. Divining Rod

Longshot: Island Town

Gimme Da Lute looks tough in the El Cajon at Del Mar

Gimme Da Lute will look to make it four in a row on Saturday as he tops a field of seven runners in the $100,000 El Cajon Stakes at Del Mar. Gimme Da Lute won the Grade 3 Affirmed Stakes three back and followed that up with a narrow win in the Grade 2 Los Alamitos Derby. Last time out in a listed stakes he won by twelve lengths. He will be a short odds favorite for sure. His main competition could come from Iron Fist and Mike Smith who drew post two. Iron Fist was most recently fourth in the Grade 2 West Virginia Derby and was only beat two and a half lengths that day. Down on the inside of Iron Fist is Fame and Power. Fame and Power is Grade 3 stakes placed and seems his best when on the lead, so it’s possible from his rail draw that jockey Rafael Bejarano may well send him hard early. Selections for the El Cajon

  1. Gimme Da Lute
  2. Power and fame
  3. Iron Fist

Longshot: Rocko’s Wheel

$200,000 Mystic Lake Derby is Canterbury’s signature race

The biggest race of the season at Canterbury Downs in Minnesota is Saturday night as the $200,000 Mystic Lake Derby will be run. Barbados rolls into town as the 5/2 favorite and is a Grade 3 winner. He most recently finished 3rd in the Grade 2 Amsterdam at Saratoga, so the class relief should be something he’ll appreciate immensely. The question for him is of course the grass as he hasn’t run on the grass since his first two career starts, which were unremarkable. Right to his outside is Syntax who comes into this race in the best form of his career. He won the Grade 3 Kent Stakes last time out and is proven on the grass for trainer Bill Mott. Nun the Less ships up to Canterbury from Arlington Park and is coming off a decent third place finish in the Grade 3 American Derby. He was on the lead that day but has shown great versatility as far as pace scenario is concerned. Selections for the Mystic Lake Derby

  1. Nun The Less
  2. Syntax
  3. Barbados

Longshot: Space Mine 

Saturday Stakes Action at

Arlington Park

Race 7                  Arlington-Washington Lassie Stakes      5:21pm EST

Belterra Park

Race 6                  Tah Dah Stakes                                 4:25pm EST

Canterbury Park

Race 6                  Mystic Lake Derby                              8:22pm EST

Del Mar

Race 3                  El Cajon Stakes                                 6:09pm EST


Race 8                  Evangeline Downs Starlet                   9:59pm EST

Race 10               Evangeline Downs Star                       10:53pm EST

Monmouth Park

Race 11               Violet Stakes                                             5:39pm EST


Race 10               Smarty Jones Stakes                          4:58pm EST


Race 6                  Personal Ensign Stakes                       2:35pm EST

Race 7                  Ballerina Stakes                                 3:10pm EST

Race 8                  Kings Bishop Stakes                           3:47pm EST

Race 9                  Forego Stakes                                   4:25pm EST

Race 10               Sword Dancer Stakes                         5:04pm EST

Race 11               Travers Stakes                                  5:46pm EST

Race 12              Ballston Spa Stakes                            6:20pm EST

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