It will be another big weekend at Saratoga, with Essential Quality making his first start since winning the Belmont Stakes in the Jim Dandy (G2), one of five graded stakes on the calendar. And Del Mar hosts two Grade 1 win-and-you're-in races for the Breeders' Cup in the Bing Crosby and Clement L. Hirsch.
Here is an early look at the fields for these and other graded-stakes races this week.
Honorable Miss (G2), 6 furlongs, fillies, 4-year-olds and up
Bell's the One has finished on the board in her last six races and is coming off a win in the Roxelana Overnight Stakes at Churchill Downs. Lake Avenue's runner-up effort in the Bed o' Roses (G3) followed a fourth-place finish in the Ruffian (G2). Don't Call Me Mary is making her first stakes appearance after two straight wins in allowance races for Todd Pletcher.
Alfred G. Vanderbilt (G1), 6 furlongs, 3-year-olds and up
Whitmore, the hero of last year's Breeders' Cup Sprint, finished third in the Churchill Downs Stakes (G1) last out and had two runner-up efforts in his earlier starts this year. Firenze Fire has finished in the money in his last six starts, with scores in the True North (G2) and Runhappy (G3) earlier this year. Mischevious Alex cuts back in distance after three straight wins – including in the Carter (G1) and Gulfstream Sprint (G3) – before coming in third in the Met Mile (G1).
Jim Dandy (G2), 1 1/8 miles, 3-year-olds
Can streaking Masqueparade make it four in a row here? His competition will be considerably stronger than in his Ohio Derby (G3) win as he is expected to face Belmont Stakes star Essential Quality. Weyburn and Dr Jack – second and third to Mandaloun in the Pegasus Stakes – also are expected, along with Keepmeinmind, who finished third in the Ohio Derby.
Bowling Green (G2), 1 3/8 miles (turf), 4-year-olds and up
Colonel Liam would be looking for redemption here, as his eighth-place finish in the Manhattan (G1) came after four straight wins, including three straight Grade 1s: the Turf Classic, the Muniz Memorial and the Pegasus World Cup Turf. Channel Maker – third in this race last year – would make his first start since an eighth-place finish in the Dubai Sheema Classic (G1). Arklow's sixth place finish in the United Nations (G1) followed a win in the Louisville Stakes (G3) to start the year.
Amsterdam (G2), 6 1/2 furlongs, 3-year-olds
This race could feature a rematch between the 1-2 finishers in the Woody Stephens (G1), Drain the Clock and Jackie's Warrior. River Dog tries graded-stakes company after a 2-for-2 start, breaking his maiden on first try in May and then winning the black-type Miles Lee Stakes.
Bing Crosby (G1), Del Mar, 6 furlongs, 3-year-olds and up
Flagstaff has two wins and a runner-up finish this year, with victories in the Churchill Downs Stakes (G1) and the Commonwealth (G3). Before his second-place finish in the Steve Sexton Mile (G3), C Z Rocket scored in the Count Fleet Sprint (G3) and the listed Hot Springs Stakes. This would be the second start of the year for Quick Tempo, who finished second in the Iowa Sprint on July 3. The winner here gets an automatic berth in the Breeders' Cup Sprint.
Monmouth Oaks (G3), Monmouth Park, 1 1/16 miles, 3-year-old fillies
Allworthy, trained and co-owned by Saffie Joseph Jr., broke her maiden on third try in May and went on to an allowance win at Gulfstream on July 4. She is a daughter of Tonalist out of the Medaglia D'Oro mare Traffic Blimp. Oliviaofthedesert is coming off her first in of the year in the black-type Panthers Stakes at Prairie Meadows on June 4. Orbs Baby Girl has seven races under her belt, most recently scoring in the black-type Penn Oaks on May 28.
Clement L. Hirsch (G1), Del Mar, 1 1/16 miles, fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up
Gamine could go 4-for-4 on the year with a win in this race, which is a win-and-you're-in event for the Breeders' Cup Distaff. Shedaresthedevil will look to atone for her third-place finish in the Ogden Phipps (G3). Before that, she won both the La Troienne (G1) and the Azeri (G2). As Time Goes By has three wins and a second this year for Bob Baffert and has never finished out of the money. She scored in the Santa Maria (G2) and the Santa Margarita (G2) after a second-place finish in the Beholder Mile (G1) in March.
Probables were not available for Woodbine's two graded stakes on Saturday – the Vigil (G3) at 6 furlongs for 4-year-olds and up and the Royal North (G2) at 6 furlongs on the turf for fillies and mares 4 years old and up.