First Look: 20 graded stakes, 9 Breeders' Cup qualifiers on tap

First Look: 20 graded stakes, 9 Breeders' Cup qualifiers on tap
Photo: Santa Anita Park

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The Breeders' Cup Championships are less than six weeks away now, and the fields should come into focus more clearly this weekend as nine qualifying races are planned at Belmont Park and Santa Anita.

Knicks Go is lined up for his final Breeders' Cup tuneup at Churchill Downs. Medina Spirit is expected at Santa Anita after pulling out of the Pennsylvania Derby (G1). Four juvenile qualifiers are also on the calendar.

In all, 20 graded stakes are on tap this weekend. Here is a look at the likely fields, where available.

Friday

Santa Anita

American Pharaoh (G1), 1 1/16 miles, 2-year-olds

Forbidden Kingdom, a son of American Pharoah, is one of several colts coming off maiden wins in California who are possible here. This race is a qualifier for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

2021 American Pharoah (G1)

Probables were not available for two other Breeders' Cup qualifiers taking place at Santa Anita on Friday: the Chandelier (G2) at 1 1/16 miles for 2-year-old fillies, and the Speakeasy at five furlongs (turf) for 2-year-olds. Probables also were not available for the Eddie D. (G2) at 6 1/2 furlongs (turf) for 3-year-olds and up.

Saturday

Santa Anita


Awesome Again (G1), 1 1/8 miles, 3-year-olds and up

Disputed Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit, scratched from the Pennsylvania Derby (G1) after a wide draw, is expected here for his first start since winning the Shared Belief Stakes. Santa Anita Handicap (G1) hero Idol returns off a layoff dating to that victory. Tripoli has won three of his last four starts, including the Pacific Classic (G1). This race is a qualifier for the Breeders' Cup Classic.

2021 Awesome Again (G1)

Rodeo Drive (G1), 1 1/4 miles (turf), fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up

Going to Vegas and Dogtag could have a rematch here after finishing 1-2 in the John C. Mabee (G2). This race is a qualifier for the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf. Going to Vegas has won three of herr last four starts, and Dogtag has four straight runner-up efforts.

2021 Rodeo Drive Stakes (G1)

*Rating is based on HRN fan votes, which rank the Top Active Horses in training.

Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G2), six furlongs, 3-year-olds and up

C Z Rocket edged out Flagstaff by a head for a second-place finish in the Pat O'Brien Stakes (G2) last out for both. This race is a qualifier for the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

2021 Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G2)

Probables were not available for the John Henry Turf Championship (G2), at 1 1/4 miles for 3-year-olds and up, or the City of Hope Mile (G2), at one mile (turf) for 3-year-olds and up.

Belmont Park

Woodward (G1), 1 1/8 miles, 3-year-olds and up

Maxfield will look to rebound from the second loss of his career after finishing 4 1/2 lengths behind Knicks Go in the Whitney Stakes (G1). By My Standards has not won a graded stakes this year and was fifth in the Whitney. Code of Honor's win in the Philip H. Iselin (G3) came after a seven-month layoff. Art Collector's Charles Town Classic (G2) victory was his second straight win.

2021 Woodward (G1)

Champagne (G1), one mile, 2-year-olds

Gunite beat Wit by 5 3/4 lengths in the Hopeful (G1), the last start for both of them. My Prankster is 1-for-1 after winning a maiden at Saratoga by 10 lengths. Jack Christopher won by 8 3/4 lengths in his debut, also at Saratoga. This race is a qualifier for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

2021 Champagne (G1)

Miss Grillo (G2), 1 1/16 miles (turf), 2-year-old fillies

In her debut at Saratoga, McKulick overtook the leader near the 16th pole to win by 1 1/2 lengths. Hail To beat Kinchen by 3/4 of a length in their last race. Philly Eagles moved to trainer Mark Casse's barn after winning on debut in England.

2021 Miss Grillo (G2)

Belmont Turf Sprint Invitational (G3), six furlongs (turf), 3-year-olds and up

This will be a rematch for the 1-2 finishers in the listed Lucky Coin Stakes at Saratoga, where Pulsate beat Backtohisroots by a neck. Maxwell Esquire finished seventh in that race and has not won in three starts since April.

2021 Belmont Turf Sprint Invitational (G3)

Churchill Downs

Lukas Classic (G3), 1 1/8 miles, 3-year-olds and up

The field here is expected to be led by Knicks Go off his Whitney (G1) win. Shared Sense's win in the Tri-State Overnight Stakes at Ellis Park was his second start after a seven-month layoff. Independence Hall finished fifth in the Pacific Classic (G1) last out after a four-month break. This would be the first start for Tacitus since his seventh-place finish in the Saudi Cup (G1).

2021 Lukas Classic Stakes (G3)

Ack Ack (G3), one mile, 3-year-olds and up

Excuplatory and Aloha West both have won three of their last four starts, and both are trying graded-stakes company for the first time. 4-year-old Atoka broke her maiden two starts ago and then won an allowance race at Ellis Park for trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

2021 Ack Ack (G3)

Sunday

Belmont


Frizette (G1) one mile, 2-year-old fillies

Echo Zulu is 2-for-2 after a four-length win in the Spinaway (G1). Gerrymander graduated in his second start last month at Saratoga. A Mo Reay, also expected here, finished third in that maiden race. The Frizette is a qualifier for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

2021 Frizette (G1)

Pilgrim (G2), 1 1/16 miles (turf), 2-year-olds

Annapolis won his first start by 4 1/2 lengths at Saratoga on Sept. 4. Kiss the Sky rallied to finish second last out in the Kentucky Downs Juvenile Mile.

2021 Pilgrim (G2)

Waya (G3), 1 3/8 miles (turf), fillies and mares, 4-year-olds and up

My Sister Nat has made the board but failed to win in her last four starts. Magic Attitude has not had a start since finishing sixth in the Diana (G1) in July.

2021 Waya (G3)

Probables were not available for two graded stakes at Santa Anita: the Zenyatta (G2), at 1 1/16 miles for fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up and a qualifier for the Breeders' Cup Distaff, and the Chillingworth (G3), at 6 1/2 furlongs for fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up. Probables also were not available for Woodbine's Ontario Fashion (G3), at six furlongs for fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up.

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