Weekend Watch: Breeders' Cup preps aplenty Saturday

Weekend Watch: Breeders' Cup preps aplenty Saturday
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire

Each weekend, Horse Racing Nation previews the top races to tune into coast to coast and runs down the main contenders. Post times are all in Eastern Time, with this edition covering Saturday's races.

Pair of Grade 1s anchor Belmont Park’s Saturday card

Familiar foes led by 2-1 favorite
 Disco Partner 
will line up in the Belmont Turf Sprint Invitational. The 6-year old intact son of Disco Rico is 4: 3-1-0 at Belmont and is particularly adept at the six-furlong distance. Disco Partner’s stable mate,
 Pure Sensation, will go to post, too, and trainer Todd Pletcher will also send out two:
 Blind Ambition and
 Gidu. All three are well regarded and any of these four, as well as a couple others in the field, could win.

Wow Cat
 will head a decidedly unexciting edition of the Grade 1 Beldame Stakes
. With the exception of the Chilean import, there is not a single Grade 1 winner in the field though several of the runners are graded stakes winners given Elate's recent defection. Even Wow Cat is not a sure bet as she has not finished out of the trifecta since coming to the U.S., but has not won either. Among her opponents are Divine Miss Grey,
 Verve’s Tale, who has not won a race in over a year, and Shuvee (G3) hero Farrell. The ladies will travel nine furlongs with the end result being a new, domestic top-level winner and the lion’s share of $400,000.

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

 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.

Meet Ashley Tamulonis

Despite growing up in a non-horse racing state, Ashley has been a fan of the sport since a young age. Her love for horse racing was fostered through the kids book series Thoroughbred by Joanna Campbell, which led her to educate herself on the ins and outs of the sport. Since becoming actively involved in the industry just a few years ago, Ashley has had the opportunity to meet many important players in the industry, attend the Eclipse Awards, see personal favorite Mucho Macho Man race twice in person, and befriend many of the fantastic fans and horsemen involved in the sport.

Ashley began her time with Horse Racing Nation covering racing in South Florida but also blogged about nationwide racing, industry issues and, from time to time, offered her opinion on how various changes could be beneficial to the industry. A move North to New Hampshire began both a new chapter in both Ashley's personal life and professional life. She currently pens the From Coast to Coast blog for HRN. Ashley also participates as a voter in the NTRA Top Thoroughbred Polls.

An alumni of Macon State College, Ashley is from Central Georgia but is currently living in New Hampshire with her husband, Chris, and their two sons Charlie and Michael. A stay-at-home mom, Ashley juggles parenting with blogging and her other passions. Aside from horse racing, Ashley is a fervent football fan, enjoys reading and studying history, and hopes to someday author a historical work covering the Tudor period as well as biographies of horse racing s stars, equine and human alike.

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