Too many racing fans erroneously believe the end of Saratoga and Del Mar means the best of the racing year has passed us by.
This belief is not supported by facts.
Frankly, there are more than four dozen major stakes races scheduled throughout the land during the next six weeks – the same length of the Del Mar and Saratoga race meets!
Most of those rich stakes are on the calendar every year and serve as key prep races for the two-day Breeders’ Cup extravaganza that will be run for the 32nd consecutive year on Oct. 30 and 31. Created in 1984, the Breeders’ Cup has expanded significantly to include 13 different Grade-I races worth $24 million in purses. Far from the season being over on Labor Day, the majority of divisional championships will be decided at the Breeders’ Cup.
As a showcase for American racing, this year’s BC races will be run for the first time at beautiful Keeneland Racecourse in Lexington, Kentucky. Keeneland is the 11th different track to host the BC.
Of equal importance, the $5 million BC Classic – the richest BCup event – promises to provide an extraordinary forum for Triple Crown Champion American Pharoah’s final career race.
Should all go well, American Pharoah will run in the Classic at 1-1/4 miles, the same distance he mastered to win the Kentucky Derby, but also the same distance that sapped his energies when he tired late to finish second to Keen Ice in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga, Aug. 29.
Keen Ice is expected to be back to challenge American Pharoah, along with Frosted, who put so much pressure on the Triple Crown champ during the first mile of the Travers that he had little left to deal with stretch running Keen Ice.
For good measure, the 5-year-old mare Beholder also is being pointed toward the BC Classic – this after she trounced good older horses in the $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar on Aug. 22.
Beyond deciding who will win the climactic BC Classic, horseplayers hoping to do well on BC Day, should realize the need to study the rich stakes being used as major BC prep races.
These not only include several Graded races that were run this past weekend at Woodbine Racecourse in Canada, they include more than 30 Graded Stakes we will see during the next three weeks at Belmont Park, Santa Anita, Churchill Downs and Keeneland. A few such races also will be run at Los Alamitos.
To advance your BC handicapping and possibly make a few good scores between now and then, I strongly recommend analyzing the races I have listed below that will include dozens of potential BCup contenders.
In some instances, you will see a horse or two that looks best on paper going into one of these races. If you are right, you will cash. But even if you have to tear up some pari-mutual tickets, a careful review of the way these races are run can lead to predictable upsets on BC Day.
For one good example, last year’s BC Sprint winner and eventual Eclipse Award Sprint Champion was Work All Week, who looked terrific winning the Grade-III Phoenix Stakes at Keeneland four weeks before he shipped across the country to win the BC Sprint at 19-1! This same horse is scheduled to run in this year’s Phoenix as he preps to defend his title.
For your convenience, listed below are 30 Graded Stakes with Breeders’ Cup implications that I plan to handicap and review carefully.
At Belmont Park:
Sept. 19. . .$200K, G-2, Noble Damsel, 1 mile on Turf, Fillies & Mares.
Sept. 26. . .$400K, G-1, Vosburgh, G-1, 6 Furlongs, 3 yrs. & up.
Sept. 26. . .$400K, G-1, Beldame Invitational, F and M’s.
Sept. 26. . .$600K, G-1, Joe Hirsch Turf Classic, 1-1/2 mile, Turf, 3yrs.& Up.
Sept. 26. . .$300K, G-1, Gallant Bloom Handicap, 6-1/2 Furlongs.
Sept. 26. . .$200K, G-3, Pilgrim, 1-1/16 mi. Turf, 2 yr olds.
Sept. 27. . .$200K, G-3, Miss Grillo, 1-1/16 mi. Turf, 2 yr old Fillies.
Oct. 3…….$500K, G-1, Flower Bowl, 1-1/4 mi. Turf, F & M’s.
Oct. 3..…...$400K ,G-1, Frizette, 1 mi., 2 yr old Fillies
Oct. 3…….$500K, G-1, Champagne, 1 mi., 2 yr olds.
Oct. 3…….$400K, G-2, Kelso, 1 mi., 3 & up.
Oct. 3…….$500K, G-3, Hill Prince, 1-1/8 mi Turf, 3 yr olds.
Oct. 3…….$1 mill., G-1, Jockey Club Gold Cup, 1-1/4 mi. 3 & up.
Oct. 10......$200K, G-3, Knickerbocker, 1-1/8 mi. Turf, 3 & up.
At Santa Anita Park (after Los Alamitos closes):
Sept. 26. . .$300K, G-1, Frontrunner, 1-1/6 mi. 2 yr olds.
Sept. 26. . .$300K, G-1, Chandelier, 1-1/16 mi., 2 yr old Fillies.
Sept. 26. . .$300K, G-2, Awesome Again, 1-1/8 mi., 3 & up.
Sept. 26. . .$300K, G-1, Rodeo Drive, 1-1/4 mi. Turf, F & M’s.
Sept. 26. . .$300K, G-1, Zenyatta, 1-1/16 mi,.F & M’s.
Sept. 27. . .$200K, G-2, City of Hope, 1 mi.Turf, 3 & up.
Oct. 3. . . . .$300K, G-1,SA Sprint Championship, 6 Furls, 3 & up.
During early October at Keeneland:
Oct. 2. . .$400K,G-1, Alcibiades, 1-1/16 mi., 2 yr old Fillies.
Oct. 2. . .$250K,G-3, Phoenix, 6 Furls., 3 & up.
Oct. 3. . .$400K,G-1, First Lady, 1 mi.Turf, F & M’s.
Oct. 3. .. $250K,G-2, Thoroughbred Club of America, 6 Furls, F & M’s.
Oct. 3. ...$500K,G-1, Breeders’ Futurity, 1-1/16 mi., 2 yr olds.
Oct. 3. . .$150K,G-3, Woodford, 5-1/2 Furls.,Turf, 3 & up.
Oct. 3. . .$1mill.,G-1, Shadwell Mile, Turf, 3 & up.
Oct. 4….$500K, G-1, Spinster, 1-1/8 mi.,F & M.
Oct. 4. . .$250K,G-3, Bourbon, 1-1/16 mi.Turf, 2 yr olds.
Steve Davidowitz, author of the best selling “,” has covered racing since Secretariat, lives in Vegas & is writing a new book, “Cashing Big on Racing’s Biggest Days.” Contact Steve at SteveDavidowitz @GamingToday.com.