Kentucky Downs kicks off with three lucrative stakes
The Grade 3, $600,000 Kentucky Turf Cup on September 13 is the signature event of the track's 23rd meeting. All races and stakes have received purse increases this year.
"More than $1 million in daily purse structure will make 2014 a breakout year for Kentucky Downs," Kentucky Downs President Corey Johnsen said. "I believe that record purse money combined with a world class turf course will attract many of North America's horses, jockeys and trainers. We have also slightly modified our stakes schedule to mirror many of the distances in this year's Breeders' Cup."
Click here for the complete stakes schedule and a listing of events.
Medal Count will be looking to rebound from a disappointing effort in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational where he finished last of nine. A close third in the Belmont Stakes two starts back, the Dale Romans-trained colt should appreciate the switch back to turf.
After opening 2014 with a dead-heat allowance/optional claiming victory on Gulfstream's turf, Medal Count discovered his best form on the old Polytrack at Keeneland that tended to play favorably toward turf horses, winning the Grade 3 Transylvania before a rallying second in the Grade 1 Blue Grass. By Dynaformer, Medal Count is bred to relish the 10 1/2-furlong distance and obviously possesses the class to be a serious factor Saturday. Regular rider Robby Albarado will be up.
Global View captured the Grade 2 American Turf on the Kentucky Derby undercard and exits a fourth in the Grade 1 Secretariat at Arlington. The Galileo colt also captured last year's Grade 3 Generous on turf. Drayden Van Dyke picks up the mount for conditioner Tom Proctor.
A pair of last-out Saratoga allowance winners, Can'thelpbelieving and My Afleet, both merit respect for trainers Graham Motion and James Lawrence, respectively. Proud Azteca, an Indiana-bred son of Kitten's Joy, will bring improving form into the race for Mike Maker following a restricted stakes win at Indiana Downs.
Rounding out the field are Grade 2 runner-up Laddie Boy; Grade 3-placed runners Rankhasprivileges and Woodfield Springs; and a pair of stakes runner-ups, Captain Dixie and Pumpkin Rumble.
Belmont fall meet highlighted by Super Saturday
The Vosburgh, the Flower Bowl, the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic and the Jockey Club Gold Cup are all Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" events, with the winners earning a fees-paid berth in the Breeders' Cup on October 31 and November 1 at Santa Anita.
The following Saturday, October 4, juveniles will take center stage at Belmont, with the Champagne and the Frizette serving as "Win and You're In" springboards to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and Juvenile Fillies.
Belmont Park will also play host to Oktoberfest on October 4, featuring a beer and chili festival.
The always-popular New York Showcase Day returns on October 18, with a celebration of all things New York, including a pumpkin patch, food, arts and crafts vendors in the grandstand and eight stakes races restricted to New York-breds, with purses totaling $1.75 million.
Opening weekend features four stakes, beginning with the first edition of the $100,000 Left Bank at a mile on Friday and continuing with the $100,000 Yankee Affair at 1 1/2 miles on the Widener Turf on Saturday. Sunday will feature a pair of stakes in the $100,000 Sky Beauty for fillies and mares and the $100,000 Real Courage at seven furlongs on the Widener turf.
The Left Bank, a prep for the Kelso, features multiple Grade 1 winner Alpha, dead-heat winner of the 2012 Travers along with Golden Ticket, who is also entered in the Left Bank.
Alpha, who also captured the 2013 Woodward, enters off a distant third-place effort in the $100,000 Alydar at Saratoga on August 17. Golden Ticket, meanwhile, has been unplaced in three straight outings since a close second-place effort in the May 2 Alysheba at Churchill Downs.
Multiple Grade 2 victor Pants On Fire, a half-length second in the Philip H. Iselin at Monmouth Park on August 17, also figures to attract wide support. Other leading contenders in the six-horse Left Bank are Integrity, hero of the $95,000 Elusive Quality over seven furlongs at Belmont in early May, and recent Alydar runner-up Stormin Monarcho.
Graded stakes action begins on September 13 with a pair of turf races for fillies and mares -- the Grade 2, $500,000 Sands Point at 1 1/8 miles and the Grade 3, $200,000 Noble Damsel at a mile.
With live racing generally conducted Wednesdays through Sundays, first post is at 1:05 p.m. (EDT) in September, and 12:50 p.m. beginning October 1.
Churchill Downs opens up 12-day September Meet
Racing returns to Churchill Downs in earnest Friday night as the historic Louisville racetrack opens its second annual September Meet for an action-packed 12-date run every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through September 28.
The September Meet was inaugurated by Churchill Downs a year ago to provide Kentucky horsemen with an opportunity to compete for ample prize money and to deliver an entertaining product to horse racing fans and entertainment seekers.
A vibrant atmosphere is likely for Saturday night's 10-race opener that begins at 6 p.m. (EDT). The season begins under the lights with "Downs After Dark: College Rivalry Night." Louisville is known to many as one of America's best college sports cities and Churchill Downs will salute its local college teams and simultaneously raise funds for The V Foundation for Cancer Research by donating $1 for every fan in attendance.
Fans are encouraged to show their school pride by wearing their team colors and participating in competitive games and contests, including Tailgating Olympics, trick shot cornhole, bouncy horse races, a football toss contest and a dunk tank. Popular DJ 2nd Nature will entertain guests on the Plaza Stage starting at 8 p.m. with his artful blend of sights and high-energy sounds, while local college cheer and dance teams perform at locations throughout the track. Attendees also will be able to compete for a chance to win a VIP experience to the Jimmy V Men's Basketball Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York on December 9, which features match-ups between Louisville and Indiana, and Illinois and Villanova.
Horsemen will compete for more than $4 million in prize money in 121 scheduled races for a daily average of $335,800. The meet's eight-race stakes schedule cumulatively worth $925,000 kicks off Saturday with a stakes quartet, including two important 1 1/16-mile fixtures for juveniles that could produce starters in next spring's $2 million Kentucky Derby and $1 million Kentucky Oaks. The $100,000 Iroquois kicks off the 35-race "Road to the Kentucky Derby" series, while the $200,000 Pocahontas starts the 31-race "Road to the Kentucky Oaks." Also, both races are Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" Challenge events, which means the winners will receive automatic berths in the starting gate for their respective Breeders' Cup races with pre-entry and entry fees paid plus $10,000 travel stipends (if nominated).
Saturday's stakes foursome is completed by the $100,000 Ack Ack Handicap at one mile and $100,000 Locust Grove over 1 1/16 miles for fillies and mares.
The $100,000 Open Mind, a six-furlong race for fillies and mares, will be the featured event on September 13, while the $100,000 for three-year-old fillies at seven furlongs is scheduled for September 20. The second running of the $125,000 Homecoming Classic -- a 1 1/8-mile race designed to be a prep for the 1 1/4-mile Breeders' Cup Classic and November's $500,000 Clark Handicap -- will share the stage on September 27 with the $100,000 Jefferson Cup, a one-mile race for three-year-olds on the turf.
First post on Saturdays and Sundays will be 12:45 p.m. (gates open at 11:30 a.m.) and the first race on Fridays varies. Racing will start at 6 p.m. for "Downs After Dark" events on September and 19 (gates open at 4 p.m.), and 2:45 p.m. on September 12 and 26 (gates open at 1:30 p.m.). Ten races are scheduled each day with a special 11-race program on September 19.
General admission is just $3 most days ($1 for seniors age 60 and up) and $10 for premier "Downs After Dark" events. Reserved box seats are $10 ($20 for "Downs After Dark"); a seat in the Matt Winn Dining Room is $15; and indoor dining options are $34.50 ($60 for "Downs After Dark"). Special "Downs After Dark" offerings include the new 21+ Terrace Lounge for $25 and 21+ Terrace Lounge VIP cabanas for $99. Children 12 and under are admitted free when accompanied by an adult ("Downs After Dark" policy: no one under the age of 18 will be admitted to the track unless they are accompanied by a parent or responsible adult). Free seating is available over a first-come, first-serve basis in Sections 113-118. Parking is free in the Longfield Avenue lot (Gates 10 & 12) and $3 in all other lots. Valet parking is $5.
Thoroughbred action returns to Los Alamitos
Live daytime racing comes back to Los Alamitos on Friday with an 11-day Fall meeting that runs through September 21. The Fall meet at Los Alamitos replaces the former Los Angeles County Fair meeting, which was held at Fairplex Park in Pomona for decades.
The meet will be highlighted by the $200,000 Los Alamitos Mile on Saturday and a pair of premier juvenile races to be held on September 13-14. The Los Alamitos Mile for three-year-olds and upward on the dirt, could be used as a steppingstone for the Breeders' Cup Classic to be held November 1.
One of the highlights during the opening weekend of the Los Alamitos meet will be a public viewing of a workout by the highly popular Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome. Racing fans will be invited to view California Chrome's workout in between races on Saturday as he continues preparations towards a return to racing in the Pennsylvania Derby later in September. California Chrome is schedule to be on the track between the third and fourth races.
The three-week meeting will feature Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing with a 2 p.m. (PDT) first post time each racing day. The action will typically consist of eight to nine Thoroughbred races to be followed by four to five Quarter Horse races, plus Arabian action. The meet's opening weekend will consist of racing on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The other two weeks of the meet will feature racing on a Thursday through Sunday basis.
The eight-race stakes schedule will feature the 25th running of the $100,000 Barretts Debutante for two-year-old fillies at 6 1/2 furlongs on September 13 and the $100,000 Barretts Juvenile for two-year-old colts and geldings at 6 1/2 furlongs on September 14.
Other stakes events will include the $75,000 E.B. Johnston for three-year-olds at 6 1/2 furlongs on Friday; the $75,000 Beverly Lewis for three-year-old fillies at 6 1/2 furlongs on Saturday; and the $75,000 Orange County for fillies and mares at six furlongs on Sunday.
Closing weekend will feature a pair of stakes races -- the $75,000 Katella for older horses at six furlongs on September 20, and the $75,000 Las Madrinas for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles on September 21.
"We're very excited for the opportunity," said Brad McKinzie, general manager of the Los Alamitos Thoroughbred Racing Association. "Our goal is to offer quality racing featuring the top horsemen in California, and our exciting stakes schedule promises to showcase many of the outstanding racehorses stabled in Southern California."
The Fall meeting is the second of three Thoroughbred meets that Los Alamitos will play host to in 2014. Los Alamitos hosted the Summer Festival from July 3-13 while the Winter session will be held December 4-21.
Los Alamitos offers free general parking every day, daily $2 grandstand admission for seniors, and $3 grandstand admission. Every patron with a paid admission will also receive a complimentary voucher good for free admission at the Los Angeles County Fair in Pomona while supplies last.
Treve still on track for Prix Vermeille, Arc
Treve is on track for the Prix Vermeille at Longchamp September 14 as trainer Criquette Head-Maarek builds her towards a defense of her crown in the October 5 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.
Not seen since finishing third in the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot June 18, the winner of the Vermeille and the Prix de Diane and Arc in 2013 pleased connections in a spin on the piste des Aigles at Chantilly Tuesday morning.
"We're going to run her next week and she will need the race, it will do her good," Head-Maarek told the Racing Post. "In principle, she will run in the Vermeille -- she is in the Prix Foy but we'll go for the Vermeille. She will have a proper trial, because it is a Group 1 but I don't want her to be knocked about. We will go through it as a trial for the Arc like last year, when Frankie (Dettori) saved her and didn't give her a hard race. If the Vermeille was the end for her, that's different but it's just a necessary step."
Treve was found to have a back injury after the Royal meeting and her conditioner shed more light on the situation Tuesday.
"The problem is cleared up as far as we can tell and she went well this morning," she continued. "For me, the important thing is her feet because although she had a problem with her back it all comes from her feet. She has a good action and is walking well after the work."
Ruler of the World Arc-bound, Magician to BC Turf
Ruler of the World could make his return to action in the Prix Foy as trainer Aidan O'Brien eyes a second crack at the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. Last year's Epsom Derby hero was only seventh to Treve in the Longchamp feature and has not raced since disappointing in the Dubai World Cup at Meydan in March.
A setback in the summer meant Ruler of the World could not run in the Coronation Cup back at Epsom but O'Brien reports the colt to be 100 percent again now and the Foy on September 14 has been penciled in.
"We had him ready to run in the Coronation Cup," commented O'Brien to At The Races. "We were very happy with him and he just tweaked a muscle in his side so he had a nice break after that, but he's back and has been working away. He worked nicely the last day he was away. It is very possible he will start in the Foy with a view, if all goes well, of going back to the Arc."
Magician is another of O'Brien's star four-year-olds, and his main objective is to bid to repeat last season's triumph in the Breeders' Cup Turf.
"He's back in full work," O'Brien said. "He came back from America in good shape. Obviously he's in the Irish Champion and all those races. We have one eye on the Breeders' Cup Turf with him and that's where he could finish up at the end of the year. We'll see what he does in between then."
Demuro picks up mount of Sea the Moon
With Christophe Soumillon committed to remaining in France under the terms of his retainer for His Highness The Aga Khan, Cristian Demuro has snagged the plum ride aboard unbeaten Sea the Moon in Sunday's Grosser Preis von Baden.
Soumillon replaced Andreas Helfenbein, who was in the saddle for Sea the Moon's first three starts, in last month's 11-length rout in the Deutsches Derby at Hamburg, and Markus Klug would like to see him back aboard for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.
"Cristian will ride on Sunday as Christophe Soumillon is required to ride for the Aga Khan in France, but I hope (Soumillon) will be available in October," Klug commented.
Tapestry a candidate for Matron
Aidan O'Brien has indicated Yorkshire Oaks victress Tapestry will likely remain on home soil for her next start, and is a possible contender for the Matron Stakes going one mile at Leopardstown September 13.
"We probably wouldn't like to travel again for her next start so it is possible she'll stay at home," O'Brien revealed. "She may run in the Matron as we'd rather stay at home and not go a mile and a half. She can step up in trip again after that.
"She'll obviously have an option (in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe or Prix de l'Opera) on Arc weekend or miss that (meet) and go to America, so there's a big chance she'll stay home and go for the Matron."
Chicquita set for return in Blandford
Last year's Irish Oaks winner Chicquita is being readied to make her eagerly awaited return in the September 14 Blandford Stakes at The Curragh. It will mark her first start for Aidan O'Brien after a racecourse absence of almost 14 months.
The bay, who also ran second to Treve in the Prix de Diane for previous trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre, was acquired by current connections for €6 million from the Paul Makin dispersal at last year's Goffs November sale.
"The plan is to start her at the Curragh in the mile and a quarter fillies' race," O'Brien said. "Everything has been going well so far and we will hopefully go on from there. There's the Arc weekend where she has the fillies' race (Prix de l'Opera) or the Arc. I suppose we'll get her started first, see how that goes and then a pick a race after that."
Skyway aims to follow up in Del Mar Futurity; 'Renee' gives zip to undercard
Recent maiden winner Red Button, a Distorted Humor half-brother to Grade 1 victress Sugar Shake, has plenty of upside. No match for Bad Read Sanchez when slowly away in his premiere, the Mark Glatt trainee showed smart gears from off the pace to get up in time here on July 26. Significantly, he lures the red-hot Rafael Bejarano into the saddle.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert dominates the record book with 11 wins in the Del Mar Futurity, but his duo of Holiday Camp and American Pharaoh must improve to give him a 12th. Holiday Camp rolled in his first try at Santa Anita, defeating next-out winner Rowdy Dylan. Dispatched as the even-money favorite next time in the Santa Anita Juvenile, Holiday Camp never recovered from a troubled start and trailed home last of six. The Street Boss colt just fired a six-furlong bullet in 1:12 at Del Mar last Wednesday, and could regroup with Martin Garcia.
The maiden American Pharaoh was favored at 7-5 in his only start on August 9, but retreated to fifth behind the ultra-impressive Om. Sired by former Baffert star Pioneerof the Nile, himself a Zayat Stables runner, American Pharaoh also tuned up with a bullet in :59 for five furlongs last Wednesday. Victor Espinoza picks up the mount.
The well-bred Iron Fist exits that same maiden, where he was best of the rest behind the imperious Om. Trained by Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer, who sent out Tamarando to take the 2013 Del Mar Futurity, Iron Fist has gotten off to slow starts in both of his outings so far. He rallied for fourth in a five-furlong dash here July 19 prior to his improved effort last time. If he doesn't complicate his task right from the break, Iron Fist can make his presence felt. A $1.55 million Keeneland September yearling purchase, the Tapit ridgeling is a full brother to the well-regarded sophomore Anchor Down and a half-brother to Grade 1 star Sweet Lulu. Hall of Famer Mike Smith sticks with the promising gray.
The Peter Miller-trained Calculator has competed in the same two maidens, splitting decisions with Iron Fist. Third in their mutual debut, he was most recently fourth to Om. Elvis Trujillo takes the call on the In Summation colt, who smoked five-eighths in a bullet :58 2/5 last Thursday.
Inexcess Time comes off a local maiden score for Walther Solis, beating the troubled Oh Newman, who closed fast for third.
Two races earlier, the $100,000 Oak Tree Juvenile Turf figures to have implications for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf. Top contenders in the one-mile affair include Sky Preacher, who aired by 7 1/2 lengths in his first turf try for O'Neill at Santa Anita; the Cody Autrey-trained Dallas Skyline, a convincing course-and-distance winner on July 30; Papacoolpapacool, beaten 1 1/2 lengths by Dallas Skyline in that mutual debut; Highway Boss, who switches surfaces off a fourth in the Best Pal; pace factor Peacenluvpeacenluv, claimed out of his Polytrack maiden score by George Papaprodromou and bred to enjoy turf as a son of Artie Schiller; and first-time starter Conquest Bespoke, worth a look as a Conquest Stables colorbearer from the Casse barn.
In the $90,000 Pirate's Bounty, Seeking the Sherif looms as the one to beat. The Ron Ellis class climber reeled off a four-race winning streak before trying the July 27 Bing Crosby at this track and six-furlong trip, and he was not disgraced when third in that Grade 1 event. Seeking the Sherif drops in class to face the likes of Ain't No Other, a close second to Private Zone in the 2013 Pirate's Bounty; No Silent, twice stakes-placed for Gary Mandella; and recent allowance/optional claiming winners Ankeny Hill and Bull Dozer.
The New York Racing Association on Monday concluded its 146th season at Saratoga, with paid attendance for the 40-day meet at 972,018. As part of a designed strategy to improve the quality of racing, Saratoga ran fewer races in 2014 compared to 2013. Additionally, as a result of inclement weather, 16 more races were taken off the turf compared to last season for a total of 193 turf races run at Saratoga in 2014 in comparison to 209 last year. Final on-track handle was $150,387,442. Final all-source handle was $571,163,484.
For Wednesday or Next Raceday
Top Speed/Class ratings
TOP BRIS CLASS RATINGS
(through September 1, 2014)
Note: Figures are for North American-based racing
At a Glance
AT A GLANCE SCHEDULE
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