LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 7, 2019) – Each week, 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.
This week features the final leg of the Triple Crown when the 151st edition of the Belmont Stakes headlines a card with eight Grade 1 races at Belmont Park on Saturday. In addition to the “Test of the Champion”, fans will get to watch Kentucky Oaks winner Serengeti Empress in the Grade 1 Acorn Stakes and multiple Grade 1 winner Bricks and Mortar, the current leader on the NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll, in the Grade 1 Manhattan.
NBCSN will have live coverage from 2:30-4 p.m. ET on Saturday with NBC broadcasting from 4-7 p.m., including the Belmont Stakes.
HRRN will offer coverage live from Belmont with a special stakes undercard coverage from 2-5 p.m. At 5 p.m., HRRN will go live with Belmont Stakes coverage in conjunction with NBC sports radio and Westwood One hosted by Mike Penna and analyst Kurt Becker along with reporters Jeff Bloom and Tom Leach on Sirius/XM 219/201 and streamed live on Horseracingradio.net.
Friday June 7
2:58 p.m.—$250,000 Grade 3 Bed o’ Roses Invitational Stakes at Belmont Park on TVG
A salty field of seven older fillies and mares has assembled for the Bed O’ Roses Invitational led by Lael Stables’ Chalon. Since transferring to the barn of trainer Arnaud Delacour for her 2018 campaign, Chalon has been a model of consistency. In six starts under Delacour, all against stakes competition, the 5-year-old mare bred by J. K. and Linda Griggs has never finished outside the exacta and has picked up wins in a trio of listed stakes, including last out in the Skipat on May 17 at Pimlico in her 2019 debut.
4:42 p.m.—$250,000 Grade 2 True North Stakes at Belmont Park on TVG
Grade 1-winner Whitmore and the returning Catalina Cruiser headline the True North, a 6 ½-furlong sprint for 4-year-olds and upward. Trained by Ron Moquett for owners Robert LaPenta, Southern Springs Stables and Head of Plains Partners, Whitmore broke through at the Grade 1 level in August at Saratoga Race Course with a rallying effort in the seven-furlong Forego. The lightly-raced Catalina Cruiser has won four of five career starts, including Grade 2 wins at Del Mar last year in the San Diego and Pat O’Brien.
5:15 p.m.—$600,000 Grade 2 New York Stakes at Belmont Park on TVG
Klaravich Stables’ graded-stakes winner Competitionofideas leads a pair of talented Chad Brown-trained contenders in the New York for fillies and mares 4-years-old and up on the inner turf. Competitionofideas looks to sustain the consistent start to her career, as she carries a 3-2-2 ledger in eight career starts into the 1 1/4-mile race. After back-to-back wins, Brown moved the Speightstown filly up to stakes company in November, where she ran third in the Winter Memories at Aqueduct Racetrack in a one-mile contest that was moved off the turf.
5:48 p.m.—$400,000 Grade 2 Belmont Gold Cup Invitational Stakes at Belmont Park on TVG
Donegal Racing, Joseph Bulger and Peter Coneway’s two-time graded stakes winner Arklow has capably run long distances in his past starts, but will stretch out even further when he competes in the two-mile Belmont Gold Cup Invitational over the Widener turf course. Trained by Brad Cox, the 5-year-old bay son of Arch recorded a career best 105 Beyer Speed Figure last time out in the Grade 1 Man o’ War, finishing only a neck behind Channel Maker.
Saturday June 8
1:22 p.m.—$700,000 Grade 1 Just a Game Stakes at Belmont Park on TVG
Grade 1 winner Rushing Fall will look to continue her winning ways when she takes on six other graded stakes winners in the Just a Game Stakes, a one-mile event for older fillies and mares over the Widener turf course. Trained by Chad Brown, Rushing Fall has won seven of her eight career starts, including Grade 1 victories in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Del Mar, the Queen Elizabeth II Cup last October at Keeneland and most recently, the Jenny Wiley at Keeneland.
2:01 p.m.—$700,000 Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Stakes at Belmont Park on TVG
Multiple Grade 1 winner Midnight Bisou, who is a perfect three-for-three so far this year, leads a talented field of seven entered for the 51st running of the Ogden Phipps Stakes at 1 1/16 miles. Trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen for Bloom Racing LLC., Madaket Stables, and Allen Racing, Midnight Bisou will be making her first start since winning the Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park April 14.
2:41 p.m.—$400,000 Grade 1 Jaipur Invitational Stakes at Belmont Park on NBCSN and TVG
Nine grass-running sprinters are set to take on Saturday’s 36th running of the Jaipur Invitational at six furlongs. Leading the field is Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables and Bethlehem Stables’ World of Trouble, who is undefeated in four starts since finishing second to Stormy Liberal in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.
3:22 p.m.—$700,000 Grade 1 Acorn Stakes at Belmont Park on NBCSN and TVG
A wide-ranging field of nine 3-year-old fillies, led by Kentucky Oaks heroine and millionaire Serengeti Empress, will be making their first-ever appearances at Belmont Park Saturday in the Acorn Stakes. Serengeti Empress, a dark bay daughter of Alternation, is 2-for-3 this year, taking the Grade 2 Rachel Alexandra to kick off her sophomore season before faltering in the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks, in which she bled.
4:04 p.m.—$400,000 Grade 1 Woody Stephens Stakes at Belmont Park on NBC and TVG
A talented field of 11 will square off in the Woody Stephens, a seven-furlong sprint for sophomores. Red Oak Stable and Madaket Stables’ Mind Control, winner of the Grade 1 Hopeful at Saratoga as a 2-year-old, has trained impressively into the Woody Stephens for trainer Gregory Sacco. A winner of two of three starts this season, including scores in the Jerome and the Grade 3 Bay Shore at Aqueduct Racetrack, Mind Control has posted a series of strong works at Monmouth Park including a bullet breeze on May 24 in 1:00.60 followed by a June 1 effort clocked in the same time.
4:46 p.m.—$1.2 million Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park on NBC and TVG
Annually one of the country’s most highly anticipated races, Saturday’s Metropolitan Handicap offers a rousing renewal in 2019. The ‘Win and You’re In’ for the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile has attracted an epic field of nine including two-time Dubai World Cup winner Thunder Snow (IRE). After eight consecutive races at 1 3/16 miles or farther, the Saeed bin Suroor-trained 5-year-old horse cuts back to a one-turn mile trip at which he won the 2017 Group 3 UAE 2,000 Guineas over 2018 Met Mile victor Bee Jersey. Sharing top weight is Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman’s three-time Grade 1-winning McKinzie, who appears the horse to beat on paper.
5:26 p.m.—$125,000 Grade 3 Mint Julep Stakes at Churchill Downs on TVG
Don Alberto Stable’s Limari will attempt to land her fifth consecutive victory Saturday when she tests stakes company for the first time in the Mint Julep for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles. Limari, a 4-year-old filly by Medaglia d’Oro, was transferred to trainer Brad Cox’s stable last year from previous conditioner Jerry Hollendorfer. Since arriving in Cox’s care, Limari has reeled off four straight victories and a runner-up effort, including a 2 ¾-length score in her last start at Keeneland on April 19.
5:36 p.m.—$1 million Grade 1 Manhattan Stakes at Belmont Park on NBC and TVG
In search of a fifth win in the Manhattan, conditioner Chad Brown entered a quartet of accomplished runners to compete in the 147th running of one of the most prestigious turf races. Leading the charge of Brown’s contingent is multiple Grade 1 winner Bricks and Mortar. Sired by Giant’s Causeway, the 5-year-old has won his last four consecutive races including victories in three straight graded stakes to start his 2019 campaign: the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational in January, the Grade 2 Muniz Memorial Handicap at Fair Grounds in March, and the Grade 1 Turf Classic at Churchill Downs in his last start.
6:37 p.m.—$1.5 million Grade 1 Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park on NBC and TVG
Mark Casse waited more than 30 years to earn his first victory in an American classic. After Gary Barber’s War of Will won the Preakness Stakes, the veteran trainer will have a chance to notch his second in three weeks as the War Front colt highlights an accomplished 10-horse field in the Belmont Stakes. War of Will earned a personal-best 99 Beyer Speed Figure, rallying in the final furlong for a 1 ¼-length score in the Preakness. Juddmonte Farms’ Tacitus will look to give Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott a chance to accomplish a rare feat and win two legs of the Triple Crown with different horses. The Mott-trained Country House was placed first in the Kentucky Derby following Maximum Security’s disqualification, which also moved Tacitus up from fourth to third to give Mott two-thirds of the trifecta.
8 p.m.—$400,000 Grade 2 Brooklyn Invitational at Belmont Park on TVG
Trainer Todd Pletcher will send out a formidable trio of contenders in the Brooklyn Invitational led by dirt marathon maven You’re to Blame. Since being transferred to Pletcher in late 2017, Bortolazzo Stable’s You’re to Blame has steadily improved, showing a particular affinity for marathon races on the main track, which he got his first crack at in last year’s Grade 3, 1 ½-mile Greenwood Cup, a race he won by a neck over fellow Brooklyn entrant War Story.
Sunday June 9
5:28 p.m.—$125,000 Grade 3 Hendrie Stakes at Woodbine on TVG
Bred and owned by Anderson Farms Ontario, Katie Baby, a four-year-old daughter of Curlin, takes on seven rivals in Sunday’s Hendrie Stakes. Trained by Catherine Day Phillips, Katie Baby arrives at the 6 ½-furlong main track Hendrie, for older fillies and mares, off a sharp allowance score at seven panels on the Toronto oval Tapeta.