Welcome to the first edition of a new weekly column that will cover the upcoming major thoroughbred horse racing events.
There are a number of Graded Stakes this weekend throughout the county with the highlight being the Arlington Million.
Maker’s Mark Lake Placid Stakes Picks: This week we kickoff the weekend of Friday at Saratoga where they will run the Maker’s Mark Lake Placid Stakes (Gr. 2) with a post time of 5:29 pm EST. The Lake Placid has a $300,000 purse and is for Three-Year-Old Fillies. The race is run over the turf at 1 1/8 miles. The 2-1 Morning Line (ML) favorite is the Chad Brown trained Strict Compliance which will be ridden by Javier Castellano. Three of the five entries in this race also faced each other back on July 4th in the Belmont Oaks Invitational Stakes (Gr. 1). In addition to Strict Compliance, both Sentiero Italia (5/2 ML) and Consumer Credit (7/2 ML) competed in the Belmont Oaks. Sentiero Italia and Strict Compliance finished in a dead heat for fourth that day with Consumer Credit another 2 ¼ lengths behind them. Expect all three to be in the mix coming down the stretch. One horse to look out for in this race could be the Bill Mott trained Heath (6/1 ML). Heath last raced on May 31 at Belmont Wonder Again Stakes. What is interesting is that day Heath lost to a hard charging Lady Eli by just a head at this same distance. Lady Eli also won the Belmont Oaks in which the previously mentioned entries were beaten.
The Arlington Million XXXIII Stakes Picks: Saturday at Arlington Park, The Arlington Million XXXIII Stakes (Gr. 1) with a post time of 5:48 CST will be the feature of a day that includes six stakes races. The Arlington Million has a $1,000,000 purse and is for Three-Year-Olds and up. It will be run over the turf at 1 ¼ miles. This is a wide open affair with the aforementioned Chad Brown again sending the 3-1 Morning Line favorite out with seven-year-old bay ridgling, Big Blue Kitten who will be ridden by Joe Bravo. Big Blue Kitten is coming off a win in the United Nations Stakes (Gr. 1) at Monmouth Park on July 5th where he defeated another Brown trainee, Slumber (7/2 ML). This is a 13 horse race on the turf which means anything can happen, and as always, we are looking for the longshot to be charging down the stretch late. Possible upset candidates are French import, and Bill Mott trainee, Triple Threat who won the only race of his career in North America in the Monmouth Stakes (Gr. 2) at Monmouth Park. Another contender for the upset is Legendary, a six-year-old gelding who came to North America from Great Britain in the spring of 2014, but has yet to capture a Grade 1 or 2 stakes race, although he has been competitive in every race.
Del Mar Oaks Picks: Also on Saturday, the Del Mar Oaks (Gr. 1) with a post time of 5:40pm PST will send the Three-Year-Old fillies out to battle for a $300,000 purse. The James Cassidy trained Prize Exhibit, another import from Great Britain, was installed as the 5/2 ML favorite. Prize Exhibit will be going for her third straight Graded Stakes win after capturing the Senorita Stakes (Gr.3) at Santa Anita on June 27th and following that win up with another in the San Clemente Handicap (Gr. 2) at Del Mar on July 19th. The Wesley Ward trained Sunset Glow was the runner-up to Prize Exhibit in the San Clemente and was installed as a 3/1 ML second choice. Sunset Glow is ridden by the ageless veteran Gary Stevens and do not underestimate Stevens’ ability to take what he learned at Del Mar last month and use it as an advantage on Saturday afternoon. If you are looking for an upset candidate, consider the Michael Stidham trained Zipessa (4/1 ML) who is making her first foray into Stakes racing. I honestly like the jockey more than the horse as Flavien Prat, who is hitting the board on 41% of his mounts during the current Del Mar season climbs aboard.
That does it for some of the highlights of this weekend’s stakes races; hopefully you will be eating steaks with your winnings from betting this weekend’s stakes.