Pair of Grade 1s anchor Belmont Park’s Saturday card
Familiar foes led by 2-1 favorite Disco Partner
Raging Bull will go to post as the heavy favorite in the Grade 2, $500,000 Hill Prince Stakes. Restricted to 3-year olds going 1 1/8 miles, the Hill Prince features co-high weights in the aforementioned Raging Bull and Del Mar Derby (G2) winner Ride a Comet, a son of grade one winner Appealing Zophie. The last time that pair met, Raging Bull got up by a nose to win the Hall of Fame (G2) while Ride a Comet had to settle for third. Six rivals complete the field, but bettors can probably safely use just these two in their vertical wagers.
A spot in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and points toward the 2019 Kentucky Derby are on the line in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes. Derby points will be awarded on a 10-4-2-1 basis to the top four finishers while a fees paid berth to Churchill Downs in a month will go to the winner. The Chad Brown trained Complexity, a half-brother to Grade 1-placed Valadorna, tops the field off a strong debut at Saratoga last month. He will face undefeated Saratoga Special (G2) winner Call Paul, Godolphin homebred Endorsed, a son of Grade 1 winner Dance Card, and front runners Aurelius Maximus and Code of Honor. Stonestreet-owned Aurelius Maximus is already a winner at Big Sandy, having broken his maiden by 7 ¾-lengths in the slop last month.
Belmont Turf Sprint 3:50 p.m.
G1 Beldame 4:25 p.m.
G2 Hill Prince 5:00 p.m.
G1 Champagne 5:35 p.m.
Keeneland opens its fall meet strongly
Bucchero is back to defend his Grade 2 Woodford Stakes title. While the 6-year old has seen plenty of action since this time last year, he has not won a race since and will face a nearly full field in his title defense. Thanks to the specific nature of this race, a turf sprint to be specific, many of the runners in the field have faced each other numerous times prior to this. Others well regarded to win include Turf Sprint (G3) winner Will Call, Grade 1-placed Holding Gold, and multiple stakes winner Extravagant Kid. Former Group 1 winner Undrafted, who has not won a stakes race since April 2016, will also go to post.
The Grade 2 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes is a “Win and You’re In” challenge race for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint. There have only been two other challenge races for this division, and neither of those winners are in this field, meaning that Saturday’s winner will be the third automatic entrant for the Filly & Mare Sprint. Multiple stakes winner and grade one placed Miss Sunset is the 3-1 morning line favorite. The field also includes Vertical Oak, Happy Like a Fool, Golden Mischief, among others with a good shot to win. It’s a tough one to figure out, but the payoffs should be worth it.
Chad Brown-trained Ballston Spa (G2) winner Quidura tops the Grade 1 First Lady Stakes, a “Win and You’re In” challenge race for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf despite being just a mile long race. Just a Game (G1) winner A Raving Beauty is back to try Quidura again after running fourth against her last out in the Ballston Spa. Crown Walk, a European Group 3 winner, ships in for trainer Henri-Alex Pantall. Argentinean Group 1 winner Dona Bruja will try to find the winner’s circle again after dropping her last two races. Off Limits, who is also on a bit of a skid, will break from post ten for trainer Chad Brown, who also sends out A Raving Beauty and Quidura.
Two-year old colts will be seeking a spot in the gate of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile when they go to post in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity. Grade one winner Mind Control leads the way but will have to overcome post 13 in a field of 14 in order to capture his second grade one. Last out Mind Control beat Sanford (G3) winner Sombeyay, who had to settle for fourth in the Hopeful (G1). Also exiting the Hopeful is Dream Maker, who is still quite green.
The Breeders’ Cup Mile will pick up a new contender once the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile is in the books. Multiple grade one winner Heart to Heart is favored to win, but he will have to best 13 rivals in order to do so. It will be a tough field. Grade 1 winner Almanaar continues his comeback for trainer Chad Brown. Voodoo Song will try to bounce back after his fifth-place finish last out. Chad Brown will also send out 3-year old Analyze It, who was second in his last three starts beaten by less than ½-length total. There is plenty of value to be had in this race, so good luck to the bettors!
G2 Woodford 3:30 p.m.
G2 TCA Stakes 4:05 p.m.
G1 First Lady 4:40 p.m.
G1 Breeders’ Futurity 5:14 p.m.
G1 Shadwell Turf Mile 5:49 p.m.
Santa Anita features two graded stakes
Roy H and Ransom the Moon will face off once again in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship. When they last met, Ransom the Moon got the better of Roy H in Bing Crosby (G1). The field is comprised of just three more runners, with Edwards Going Left the most likely to beat the top two if an upset should occur.
Sharp Samurai will go favored in the Grade 2 City of Hope Mile. The 4-year old gelding only began his season in June but has been competitive in graded stakes company despite not notching a win in the higher levels this year. He will have to get past Fly to Mars as well as a few other solid competitors to win, however.
G1 SA Sprint Championship 5:38 p.m.
G2 City of Hope 7:44 p.m.
Formerly retired Grade 1 winner returns at Fresno
Following two non-competitive, off-the-board finishes at the beginning of 2018, Grade winner Masochistic was retired. Turns out the now 8-year old gelding was not suited to the easy life. According to new trainer Kristin Mulhall, the high-spirited gelding hated being turned out, refused to be just a trail pony, and would try to work right alongside the horses he was supposed to be ponying. He was returned to light training where he showed he was still very much interested in competing. He makes his return in the Harris Farms Stakes at Fresno, a race chosen because it was the easiest possible comeback spot for Masochistic. He will face just five others, none of whom have the back class Masochistic brings to the table. Post time is 7:29 p.m.