First Look: Get the jump on 19 graded stakes this long weekend

First Look: Get the jump on 19 graded stakes this long weekend
Photo: Parker Waters / Eclipse Sportswire

The return of Maxfield in Friday’s $750,000, Grade 1 Clark Stakes at Churchill Downs headlines a long holiday weekend of graded stakes at five tracks across North America.

Del Mar hosts the Hollywood Derby (G1) on Saturday, the top turf race among the 19 graded stakes scheduled between Thursday and Sunday.


Falls City (G2), Churchill Downs, 1 1/8 miles, fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up

After skipping the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, Bonny South is the morning-line favorite for this holiday feature. Trained by Brad Cox and ridden by Florent Géroux, the 4-year-old Munnings filly most recently finished third to division leader Letruska in the Spinster (G1) at Keeneland. Bonny South finished a distant second in last year’s Falls City to Envoutante, who returns as a co-second choice with Crystal Ball.

2021 Falls City (G2)

Red Carpet Handicap (G3), Del Mar, 1 3/8 miles (turf), fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up

Luck, who barely missed a Grade 1 score in her last start, drops in class to face only four rivals in the early Thanksgiving afternoon feature. Flavien Prat got the riding assignment from Richard Baltas, who took over training the 4-year-old Kitten’s Joy filly when she was transferred this summer from Alain de Royer-Dupré’s barn in Europe. Luck has one allowance win each in France and at Del Mar.

2021 Red Carpet Stakes (G3)


Clark (G1), Churchill Downs, 1 1/8 miles, 3-year-olds and up

Maxfield came into the summer looking like the best older male in the country. Then came second-place finishes to Knicks Go and Art Collector in New York, dropping him to 0-for-3 against older horses in Grade 1 races this year. Trained by Brendan Walsh and ridden by José Ortiz, the 4-year-old Street Sense colt drew widest in the field of eight for Friday’s race. Recent Grade 1 runners-up Midnight Bourbon and Happy Saver also are entered. Code of Honor, who had been listed as probable for the Clark, instead will be pointed to the Cigar Mile Handicap (G1) on Dec. 4 at Aqueduct, according to trainer Shug McGaughey’s text message to Horse Racing Nation.

2021 Clark Stakes (G1)

Hollywood Turf Cup (G2), Del Mar, 1 1/2 miles (turf), 3-year-olds and up

After being shut out in the Breeders’ Cup, trainer Chad Brown tries again at Del Mar with Rockemperor returning to the scene of his eighth-place finish in the $4 million Turf. Over that same course and distance, the 5-year-old Holy Roman Emperor horse tries to regain the form he showed in winning the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational (G1) on Oct. 9 at Belmont Park. Rockemperor drew post 7 in Friday’s seven-horse field. Say the Word, who was third in this race last year, looks to improve on that result with Kent Desormeaux riding for trainer Phil D’Amato. Astronaut, trained by John Shirreffs and ridden by Víctor Espinoza, rallied to win Aug. 21 in the 1 3/8-mile Del Mar Handicap (G2) before he finished a troubled 12th in the Breeders’ Cup Turf.

2021 Hollywood Turf Cup (G2)

Comely (G3), Aqueduct, 1 1/8 miles, 3-year-old fillies

Throw out the two Grade 1 starts in which she was overmatched, and Crazy Beautiful has a record of 6: 4-2-0 in the rest of her 2021 races. They include triumphs in the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2), Summertime Oaks (G2) and Delaware Oaks (G3) for trainer Ken McPeek. Coming off a two-month break for Mike Maker, Army Wife drops in class from a pair of third-place finishes in the Alabama (G1) and Cotillion (G1).

2021 Comely (G3)


Hollywood Derby (G1), Del Mar, 1 1/8 miles (turf), 3-year-olds

If Brown sends Public Sector west, he could be looking at his fourth victory in this $400,000 race. The 3-year-old Kingman colt has won his last three races, all graded stakes, including last month’s Hill Prince (G2) at Belmont Park. Like the King, who finished 12th in the Kentucky Derby, has hit the board in his three most recent starts on the turf and could be shipped by Wesley Ward. Camp Hope, another possible starter, was a winning favorite in his last two races at Keeneland for Ken McPeek.

2021 Hollywood Derby (G1)

Kentucky Jockey Club (G2), Churchill Downs, 1 1/16 miles, 2-year-olds

Howling Time is 2-for-2, with both his wins coming at Churchill Downs. The Not This Time colt from the Dale Romans stable tries to parlay his Street Sense Stakes victory Oct. 31 into a score in this 10-4-2-1 Kentucky Derby points prep. Debut winner Smile Happy and Breeders’ Futurity (G1) third-place finisher Classic Causeway, each 50-1 in Las Vegas futures for the Kentucky Derby, also are expected to be in the race.

2021 Kentucky Jockey Club (G2)

Golden Rod (G2), Churchill Downs, 1 1/16 miles, 2-year-old fillies

After losing her debut last spring, Sandstone came back from a summer-long break with two lopsided victories last month at Churchill Downs. The latest was a 10 3/4-length runaway in the Rags to Riches on Oct. 31. The Street Sense filly from Ken McPeek’s barn will be tested by the likes of Famed, a Brad Cox-trained filly who broke her maiden with a 7 3/4-length score over a sloppy seven furlongs Oct. 30 at Keeneland. Churchill Downs listed only three early probables for this 10-4-2-1 points prep for the Kentucky Oaks.

2021 Golden Rod (G2)

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

Seabiscuit Handicap (G2), Del Mar, 1 1/16 miles (turf), 3-year-olds and up

Hit the Road has finished out of the money only once in his last seven starts. His year includes a Grade 1 victory in the Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1) at Santa Anita. The 4-year-old More Than Ready colt trained by Dan Blacker was assigned the top weight of 124 pounds for this race. Somelikeithotbrown, a stakes winner at Belmont Park barely two weeks ago, and Cross Border, first in the Bowling Green (G2), are possible starters for Maker.

2021 Seabiscuit Handicap (G2)

Discovery (G3), Aqueduct, 1 1/8 miles, 3-year-olds

Carrying odds of 7-2, Speaker’s Corner faltered against Hot Rod Charlie and most of the rest of the competition in the Pennsylvania Derby (G1). But the Street Sense colt trained by Bill Mott had a pair of victories before that race and returned to the winner’s circle once since. That was last month as an odds-on favorite in an allowance race at Belmont Park. She could be the favorite this weekend in Ozone Park, N.Y.

2021 Discovery Handicap (G3)

Long Island (G3), Aqueduct, 1 1/2 miles (turf), fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up

Mutamakina and La Dragontea were just a neck apart finishing 1-2 for trainer Christophe Clément on Oct. 17 in the 1 1/4-mile E. P. Taylor (G1) over a yielding course at Woodbine. The stablemates are expected to meet again on the inner turf at the Big A, where Mutamakina was the 9-5 favorite when she won this race last year. That was when it was still 1 3/8 miles. The 5-year-old Nathaniel mare is 3: 0-1-2 at 1 1/2 miles. La Dragontea has never raced that far. Her last victory was Sept. 18 in the 1 1/8-mile Canadian (G2) on a Woodbine course rated good.

2021 Long Island (G3)

Jimmy Durante (G3), Del Mar, mile (turf), 2-year-old fillies

Knowing Glance, a Jimmy Creed filly, is 2-for-2 since she was claimed and moved to Maker’s barn. She is a possible starter for this race as are two Graham Motion fillies – allowance winner Sparkle Blue and maiden victor Vergara. Shippers have won the last six runnings of the Durante, which has gone 10 years since it was last won by a nose even though it was named for an entertainer known for his prominent proboscis.

2021 Jimmy Durante (G3)

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

Berkeley Handicap (G3), Golden Gate, 1 1/16 miles (synthetic), 3-year-olds and up

At age 8, Camino Del Paraiso looks like the classic course horse. He has won his last four starts at Golden Gate Fields, all on the turf. This time trainer O.J. Jauregui switches the Suances gelding to the all-weather main track, where his last start resulted in a third-place finish in the 2020 All-American Stakes. Wine and Whisky, who was fourth in the J.T. Grace Stakes that was taken off the Golden Gate turf Nov. 6, could be starting his fourth race in seven weeks. Indian Peak, the California Flag Handicap winner last month at Santa Anita, is a possible shipper from the barn being let go by trainer Peter Miller.

GG Stakes (11/27/2021-R14)


Matriarch (G1), Del Mar, mile (turf), fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up

Princess Grace looked like she was going to run her winning streak to five before she wilted late and finished third in the Goldikova (G2) on the Breeders’ Cup Friday undercard. Trainer Mike Stidham kept her at Del Mar for this race against possible starters Zofelle, who was second in the Goldikova, and Summer in Saratoga, the Dowager (G3) winner last month at Keeneland.

2021 Matriarch Stakes (G1)

Fall Highweight Handicap (G3), Aqueduct, 6 furlongs, 3-year-olds and up

The 6-year-old gelding Chateau returns to his favorite track and the scene of his most recent victory. That was March 6 in the Tom Fool Handicap (G3), which he led from gate to wire carrying 7-2 odds for trainer Rob Atras. Chateau is 10: 5-2-2 at Aqueduct but only 27: 2-8-7 everywhere else. Last time out he led early before jockey Kendrick Carmouche stopped him. That was Sept. 13, when he was the even-money favorite to win an allowance race at Parx Racing.

2021 Fall Highweight Handicap (G3)

Cecil B. DeMille (G3), Del Mar, mile (turf), 2-year-olds

Sy Dog, a four-length debut winner for Motion in a seven-furlong debut at Belmont Park, was the only possible starter mentioned by track management. The Slumber colt had a bullet workout last Monday at Fair Hill, clocked at 48.0 seconds over four furlongs on the synthetic track. Astronomer, the Air Force Blue colt who won the Golden Mile at Del Mar only 16 days ago for trainer Simon Callaghan, was the only stakes winner among the early nominees.

2021 Cecil B. DeMille (G3)

*Rating is based on HRN fan votes, which rank the Top Active Horses in training.
RankSilksHorse / SireRatingTrainer / JockeyLast StartStatus
Air Force Blue
S. Callaghan
1st, 2021 Golden Mile (LS) 
 Sy Dog
H. Motion
1st, Bel MSW (10/24/2021-R3)

Kennedy Road (G2), Grey Stakes (G3), Mazarine (G3) at Woodbine 

Woodbine, which seldom reports its probable starters, did not say who might be in Saturday’s Kennedy Road (G2) sprint, Sunday’s Grey (G3) for 2-year-olds and Sunday’s Mazarine (G3) for 2-year-old fillies. For what it is worth, it is not Thanksgiving there this week; Canada celebrated it Oct. 11.

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