LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 19, 2020) – Throughout the year, the NTRA will provide a guide to the best stakes races in North America and beyond. Races are listed in chronological order (all times Eastern). Full previews when available can be found through the link for each race.
For the first time in history, the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Stakes will serve as the first leg of the American Triple Crown when the classic takes place on June 20. The Belmont Stakes, which will be contested at 1 1/8-miles instead of its typical 12 furlongs, is one of six graded stakes and four Grade 1s on Belmont Park’s Saturday card and will offer 150-60-30-15 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the top-four finishers.
NBC will broadcast the 152nd Belmont Stakes with coverage of it stakes-laden card beginning at 2:45 p.m. ET. NBC will also broadcast the Royal Ascot meet on Saturday beginning at 9 a.m. ET.
For the first time since it began in 2016, America’s Day at the Races will air Saturday’s Belmont Stakes Day coverage, with several major races preceding the Belmont Stakes to be shown on the networks of FOX Sports starting at 11:30 a.m. ET. FOX Sports will offer 4 ½-hours of live coverage, which will sandwich NBC’s live broadcast of Belmont Stakes Day from 2:45 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET.
HRRN’s Belmont Stakes broadcast will air from 4:30-6 p.m. ET, and will be preceded by a 30-minute broadcast of the Acorn on the Belmont undercard beginning at 4 p.m. ET.
Saturday June 20
12:25 p.m.—$250,000 Grade 1 Woody Stephens Stakes at Belmont Park on FS1
Cash is King and LC Racing’s Mischevious Alex, who captured the Grade 3 Gotham last out on March 7 for trainer John Servis, headlines the seven-furlong Woody Stephens. The Into Mischief bay, bred in Kentucky by WinStar Farm, arrives at Saturday’s test for sophomores on a three-race streak that includes scores in the Parx Juvenile in November and the Grade 3 Swale in February at Gulfstream Park ahead of his Gotham glory. Undefeated since the addition of blinkers for his Parx Juvenile score, Mischevious Alex boasts a record of 7-4-1-1 with purse earnings of $344,230.
1:42 p.m.—$150,000 Grade 2 Pennine Ridge Stakes at Belmont Park on FS1
Grade 1-winner Decorated Invader headlines the Pennine Ridge over the Widener turf. Owned by Terry Finley’s West Point Thoroughbreds in partnership with William T. Freeman, William Sandbrook and Cheryl Manning, Decorated Invader took Gulfstream Park’s Cutler Bay on March 28 in his most recent start. The son of Declaration of War hit the gate at the break and was 15 lengths off the pace before making a five-wide move at the top of the stretch to garner a career-best 88 Beyer Speed Figure for the victory for trainer Christophe Clement.
3:01 p.m.—$150,000 Grade 3 Wonder Again Stakes at Belmont Park on NBC
Robert and Lawana Low’s graded stakes winner Sweet Melania will attempt to keep her consistent record intact when she returns off a seven-and-a-half month layoff in Saturday’s Wonder Again at Belmont Park. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Sweet Melania, a chestnut daughter of American Pharoah, graduated in July at third asking in a 1 1/16-mile turf tilt at Saratoga Race Course. She followed up a month later at the Spa with a strong effort in the P.G. Johnson when second, by a neck, to Crystalle ahead of a front-running 5 1/2-length score in the Grade 2 Jessamine on October 9 at Keeneland. She completed a lengthy 2-year-old campaign in November with a prominent third in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Santa Anita.
4:02 p.m.—$100,000 Grade 3 Wilshire Stakes at Santa Anita Park on TVG
A recent winner of two consecutive graded stakes, trainer Jonathan Wong’s rapidly improving Keeper Ofthe Stars will square off with Neil Drysdale’s classy comebacker Toinette as they head a field of seven fillies and mares in Saturday’s Wilshire Stakes at one mile over the Santa Anita turf. A half length winner of the Grade 2 Buena Vista Stakes at one mile on turf February 22, this 4-year-old daughter of Midnight Lute came back to score the biggest win of her career on May 25, taking the Grade 1 Gamely Stakes by 1 ¼ lengths.
4:15 p.m.—$300,000 Grade 1 Acorn Stakes at Belmont Park on NBC
Tracy Farmer’s Grade 1-winner Perfect Alibi has been ready to debut her 3-year-old form for the better part of the last few months. On Saturday, Belmont Stakes Day, the daughter of Sky Mesa will finally get the chance to take some tangible steps forward in her progress when she headlines a field of seven sophomore fillies in the Acorn Stakes. When Perfect Alibi heads to post in the Acorn – which has produced such divisional champions as Abel Tasman (2017) and Monomoy Girl (2018) in recent seasons – it will mark the first competitive outing for the dark bay filly since her fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita Park on November 1.
4:53 p.m.—$250,000 Grade 1 Jaipur Stakes at Belmont Park on NBC
An eclectic field of eight turf sprinters has lined up for Jaipur Stakes, which features a pair from the barn of Christophe Clement, a quartet of West Coast invaders and the star-crossed Hidden Scroll. Chief among the motley crew assembled for the Jaipur is the elder statesman Pure Sensation, who goes out for Clement and owner Patricia Generazio as he makes his 9-year-old debut off a fifth-place finish in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint to close out 2019. No stranger to this race, the gray Zensational gelding won the Jaipur in 2016, finished fourth in 2017 and third in 2018. Though he missed the Jaipur last year, he still put together a productive campaign which included wins in a pair of Grade 3 events at Parx Racing and an ungraded stake at Penn National.
5:01 p.m.—$200,000 Grade 2 Wise Dan Stakes at Churchill Downs on FS2
Gaining Ground Racing’s three-time stakes winner Factor This will lead a field of 11 older horses that entered Saturday’s 31st running of the Wise Dan Stakes on the turf. Factor This, a previous $62,500 claim in 2018, has won five races with trainer Brad Cox, including back-to-back stakes victories in the Grade 3 Fair Grounds and Grade 2 Muniz Memorial. The 5-year-old son of The Factor has been working consistently over the turf course at Churchill Downs with his pilot Shaun Bridgmohan aboard.
5:42 p.m.—$1,000,000 Grade 1 Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park on NBC
A history-making Saturday will see the 152nd running of the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park serve as the Triple Crown’s first leg for the first time in history. Sackatoga Stable’s Tiz the Law headlines the 10-horse field, and will look to become the first NY-bred in 138 years to win the American Classic. The Barclay Tagg trainee is the race’s only multiple graded stakes winner and has already registered a pair of Grade 1 triumphs, starting with his only previous Belmont Park appearance when he followed a debut win by posting a four-length victory in the Champagne in October. Tiz the Law, the No. 1-ranked horse on the NTRA Top Three-Year-Old Poll, has continued to train forwardly at Belmont, including a half-mile breeze in :50.42 seconds over Big Sandy on Sunday in his last work before the start of Triple Crown season.
7:32 p.m.—$100,000 Grade 3 Lazaro Barrera Stakes at Santa Anita Park on NBCSN
Fresh off a huge allowance score going six furlongs, trainer Mark Glatt’s talented Collusion Illusion will stretch out a half-furlong and make his second start off an extended vacation as he heads Saturday’s Lazaro Barrera Stakes at Santa Anita. The Barrera, named for the late Hall of Fame trainer, has attracted a field of five sophomores going 6 ½ furlongs. Bob Baffert’s speedy Ragtime Blues, a winner of his last two starts, will get the first time services of Mike Smith and also figures prominently in what will be his fourth career start.
Sunday June 21
4:09 p.m.—$125,000 Grade 3 Whimsical Stakes at Woodbine on TVG
Sovereign Award-winning Summer Sunday, owned by Anne and William Scott, makes her five-year-old debut in the Whimsical Stakes. A seven-time winner from 11 starts, Summer Sunday takes on nine rivals, including graded stakes champion Jean Elizabeth, in the six-furlong Whimsical. Trained by Stuart Simon, Summer Sunday won three of six 2019 starts, including the Grade 2 Royal North Stakes, en route to Sovereign honors as Canada’s champion female sprinter.
6 p.m.—$100,000 Grade 3 San Juan Capistrano Stakes at Santa Anita Park on NBCSN
A pair of long fused veterans, California-bred Ward ‘n Jerry and Kentucky-bred Red King, third in last year’s running, head a field of eight 3-year-olds and up on the turf in the San Juan Capistrano. The 81st renewal of the San Juan, Santa Anita’s traditional closing day feature, will again include a hillside start at the top the Camino Real Turf Course. A homebred 7-year-old gelding by the late Lucky Pulpit, Ward ‘n Jerry rates top billing in a wide open affair in which just one of the runners have ever run this far. Although he was most recently a non-threatening fifth in the Crystal Water Stakes at one mile on turf June 6, he took the Grade 3 San Luis Rey Stakes by an impressive 1 ¼ lengths two starts back on March 21.
8 p.m.—$100,000 Grade 3 American Stakes at Santa Anita Park on TVG
In a field replete with classy veterans returning off extended vacations, Richard Mandella’s fast-improving Border Town seeks his third consecutive win in Sunday’s American Stakes. Trainer Mark Glatt will be well represented by multiple graded stakes winner Sharp Samurai, who has been idle since August 18, and Phil D’Amato will send out a pair of classy comebackers, multiple Grade 1-winner Bowies Hero, idle since November 2, and graded stakes winning Cleopatra’s Strike, who’s been idle 4 ½ months.