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Fifteen graded stakes are on the calendar for this weekend, led by the Pacific Classic (G1) at Del Mar and the Alabama (G1) at Saratoga, where Malathaat is expected to seek revenge on Maracuja for her lone loss in the Coaching Club American Oaks.
Code of Honor is expected to make his return at Monmouth Park, and Woodbine will host the first leg of Canada's triple crown.
Here is an early look at the fields.
Rancho Bernardo Handicap (G3), Del Mar, 6 1/2 furlongs, fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up
Proud Emma comes back for her first race since February, when she was sixth in the Santa Monica (G2). Scotish Star was second in a Del Mar allowance last out in her first U.S. start. She was 2-for-2 last year in Argentina. Stellar Sound finished third behind Proud Emma in last year's Bayakoa (G3) and won her only start this year, an allowance on July 29.
Pacific Classic (G1), 1 1/4 miles, 3-year-olds and up
Dr Post has won two of his three starts this year, in the Westchester (G3) and the Monmouth Cup (G3). In between, he was fifth in the Met Mile (G1). Express Train has finished in the money in each of his five starts this year, with victories in the San Diego Handicap (G2) last out and the San Pascual (G2) in January. Tizamagician, winner of the Cougar II (G3) last out, also won the Tokyo City Cup (G3) in April and is 6:3-2-0 on the year. This is a win-and-you're-in qualifier for the Breeders' Cup Classic.
Del Mar Oaks (G1), 1 1/8 miles (turf), 3-year-old fillies
Madone edged Going Global to win the San Clemente (G2) last out, and both could meet again here along with Karakatsie, who finished fourth. Moraz would be making her her first start since an 11th-place finish in the Kentucky Oaks. She finished in the money in her five other career starts. Fluffy Socks has yet to win this year, though she has two runner-up efforts in her three starts.
Del Mar Handicap (G2), 1 3/8 miles (turf), 3-year-olds and up
United won the Eddie Read (G2) by a neck last out off a fourth-pace finish in the Charles Whittingham (G2). His only other start this year was a win in the San Luis Rey (G3) in March. Arklow's sixth-place finish in the United Nations (G1) followed a win in the Louisville (G3) in his first start of the year. Count Again, third in the Eddie Read, has not won in four starts this year. This race is win-and-you're-in qualifier for the Breeders' Cup Turf.
Del Mar Mile (G2), 1 mile (turf), 3-year-olds and up
Mo Forza, unraced since last year's City of Hope Mile (G1) win, is the defending champion here. Smooth Like Strait lost by a neck in the Eddie Read last out after scoring in the Shoemaker Mile (G1). Count Again also is possible here.
Torrey Pines (G3), 1 mile, 3-year-old fillies
Soothsay, unraced as a 2-year-old, won on debut in February then went on to win the Santa Anita Oaks (G2) and the Indiana Oaks (G3), with a second-place finish in the Summertime Oaks (G2) in between. Sea Dreamer, also unraced last year, broke her maiden on second try by 9 1/4 lengths on July 23.
Alabama (G1), 1 1/4 miles, 3-year-old fillies
Maracuja surprised previously undefeated Malathaat in the Coaching Club American Oaks, and they are expected to meet again here. Clairiere, third in the CCA Oaks, will look for her first win since February. Crazy Beautiful moves back to Grade 1 company and looks to make it three in a row after winning the Summertime Oaks (G2) and Delaware Oaks (G3).
Lake Placid (G2), 1 1/16 miles (turf), 3-year-old fillies
Lovestruck's eighth-place finish in the listed Wild Applause was her first start of the year after going 2-for-2 last fall. Technical Analysis bounced back from a sixth-place finish in the Wonder Again (G3) to win the Lake George (G3) last out. Por Que No has won five of six starts this year, and Plum Ali is looking for her first win since last year's Miss Grillo (G2).
Philip H. Iselin (G3), 1 1/16 miles, 3-year-olds and up
Code of Honor is expected here for his first start since finishing fifth in the Jan. 23 Pegasus World Cup (G1), and his last two works have been five-furlong bullets at Saratoga. Tacitus would be making his first start since a seventh-place finish in the Saudi Cup (G1) in February. Magic Michael has racked up a record of 8: 4-3-0 this year.
Probables were not available for two graded stakes scheduled for Saturday at Woodbine: the Seaway (G3), at 7 furlongs for 3-year-olds and up; and the Singspiel (G3) at 1 1/4 miles on turf for 3-year-olds and up.
Green Flash (G3), Del Mar, 5 furlongs, 3-year-olds and up
Lieutenant Dan won a five-furlong allowance race in his only start this year. His career record is 14: 6-3-4, but this is his first graded-stakes attempt. Gregorian Chant's seventh-place finish in the Jaipur (G1) came after three straight wins this year, including a score in the San Simeon (G3).
Queen's Plate, Woodbine, 1 1/4 miles, 3-year-olds
This is a restricted, rather than graded, stakes race, but it is the first leg of the Canadian triple crown and carries a purse of CA$1 million, or about US$800,000. Avoman and H C Holiday, first and second in the Plate Trial, are expected, as are third- and fourth-place finishers Derzkil Truffle King.
Probables were not available for three graded stakes scheduled for Sunday at Woodbine: The Highlander (G1), six furlongs on turf for 3-year-olds and up; the Dance Smartly (G2), at 1 1/4 miles on turf for fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up; and the Ontario Colleen (G3), at 1 mile on turf for 3-year-old fillies.