The drumbeat of summer graded-stakes action continues this weekend with contentious fields expected for top-drawer races at Saratoga, Del Mar and Churchill Downs.
Three Grade 1 turf races – the Fourstardave at Saratoga and the transplanted Arlington Million and Beverly D. at Churchill Downs – will highlight the weekend. Both Saratoga and Del Mar also will feature rising 2-year-old stars in sprints on their respective main tracks.
Del Mar will host the Sorrento (G2) and the Best Pal (G3) stakes, each six furlongs. The Spa will dish up the 6 1/2-furlong Saratoga Special. Del Mar also will highlight some high-class distaff turf action with the Yellow Ribbon Handicap (G2) for fillies and mares 3 and up.
Here is an early look at the likely fields:
Fourstardave Handicap (G1), Saratoga, 1 mile (turf), 3-year-olds and up
Six horses were listed as probable as of Sunday for the 38th running of the race named for a real Saratoga stalwart. They include Regal Glory, winner of the Just a Game (G1) last out, and Casa Creed, who annexed the Jaipur Invitational (G1) in his most recent start.
Saratoga Special (G2), Saratoga, 6 1/2 furlongs, 2-year-olds
Five horses were listed as probable or possible as of Sunday. They were led by Gulfport, an undefeated son of Uncle Mo who is trained by Steve Asmussen. Only one 2-year-old, Munnys Gold, had a better Beyer Speed Figure this year than the 91 that Gulfport earned for winning the Bashford Manor on July 4 at Churchill Downs, according to Daily Racing Form.
Arlington Million (G1), Churchill Downs, 1 1/8 miles (turf), 3-year-olds and up
A compact but quality field of six is expected for the longtime marquee race of mothballed Arlington Park, led by six-time stakes winner Smooth Like Strait. Also expected were Santin, winner of the Turf Classic (G1) in May at Churchill Downs, and Field Pass, who captured the black-type Texas Turf Classic in his most recent start. The move of the race from suburban Chicago resulted in a downsizing from 1 1/4 to 1 1/8 miles.
Beverly D. (G1), Churchill Downs, 1 1/8 miles (turf), fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up
The Million's companion race for fillies and mares had just five horses listed as probable as of Sunday, according to Churchill Downs stakes coordinator Dan Bork. Among those expected to go were five-time graded-stakes winner Princess Grace as well as California Angel, winner of the Jessamine Stakes (G2) at Keeneland last year before finishing a disappointing 11th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, and the well-traveled mare Dalika.
Yellow Ribbon Handicap (G2), Del Mar, 1 1/16 miles (turf), fillies and mare, 3-year-olds and up
The field was still taking shape Sunday, but eight horses were considered possible starters, according to stakes coordinator Ed Reese. Grade 1 winners Going Global and Going to Vegas were among them.
Sorrento (G2), Del Mar, 6 furlongs, 2-year-old fillies
A pair of the six possible starters listed by Reese are each 2-for-2, and they are trained by Doug O'Neill. Absolutely Zero, who is by O'Neill's 2016 Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist, most recently won the Fasig-Tipton Futurity covering five furlongs June 18 at Santa Anita. Vegas Magic, sired by 2017 juvenile champion Good Magic, was a narrow winner July 9 in the black-type, Everett Nevin Stakes at Pleasanton.
Best Pal (G1), Del Mar, 6 furlongs, 2-year-olds
Bob Baffert has trained a record eight winners in this race, but he has not scored since Klimt was victorious in 2016. Of the 10 juveniles listed by Reese as possible starters, his prospect Havnameltdown had the best Beyer. Sold in April for $200,000, the Uncaptured colt owned by Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman earned an 80 for his five-furlong debut win July 24 at Del Mar.
Probables were not available from Woodbine for three Grade 3 races this weekend – Saturday's Bold Venture (G3) and Trillium (G3) and Sunday's Seagram Cup (G3).