LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 10, 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.
This weekend features a unique edition of the Keeneland meet as the Lexington track runs spectator-free through July 12. The track’s marquee Kentucky Derby prep race, the Grade 2 Blue Grass Stakes, is one of six graded stakes on Saturday’s card and offers 170 points toward qualification to this year’s Derby with 100 points going to the winner, 40 to the runner-up, 20 to third place and 10 points to fourth.
TVG will be live on site at Keeneland for each day of the track’s Summer Meet and will feature exclusive coverage of the Blue Grass Stakes on July 11. The network will also be live from Del Mar this weekend as the track kicks off its summer meet on July 10. TVG will again partner with NBC Sports on Sunday as “Trackside Live” will be simulcast from 5 p.m. ET to 7 p.m. ET featuring the Grade 2 Elkhorn Stakes from Keeneland.
Racing for the closing weekend at Belmont Park will be featured on the Fox Sports show “America’s Day at the Races,” running through July 12 on either FS1 or FS2.
Friday July 10
4:24 p.m.—$100,000 Grade 3 Beaumont Stakes at Keeneland on TVG
JoAnn and Alex Lieblong’s Wicked Whisper, winner of last fall’s Grade 1 Frizette Stakes at Belmont Park, will make her 2020 debut Friday when she headlines the Beaumont Stakes, which will be run over 7 furlongs, 184 feet and offers 34 points toward the Kentucky Oaks on a 20-8-4-2 scale to the top four finishers. Trained by Steve Asmussen and to be ridden by Joel Rosario, Wicked Whisper has not raced since finishing fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita. She will break from post position four.
4:57 p.m.—$300,000 Grade 1 Maker’s Mark Mile Stakes at Keeneland on TVG
Peter Brant’s Raging Bull (FR), winner of the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile in his most recent start, headlines a field of 10 entered for the Maker’s Mark Mile, the first of four Grade 1 races during the five-day Summer Meet. Trained by Chad Brown, Raging Bull returns to Keeneland, where he finished fourth in last year’s Maker’s Mark Mile. A two-time Grade 1 winner, Raging Bull will be ridden by Joel Rosario and break from post position four. Brown also trains Without Parole (GB), who finished third in the Shoemaker Mile. Owned by John Gunther and his daughter Tanya Gunther, Without Parole finished third in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile in his U.S. debut. In 2018, Without Parole won the Group 1 St. James’s Palace at Royal Ascot in England.
Saturday July 11
2:45 p.m.—$150,000 Grade 2 Appalachian Stakes at Keeneland on TVG
Godolphin’s Alms, a two-time Grade 3 winner, heads an evenly matched field of six 3-year-old fillies entered for the Appalachian, to be run at a mile on the Keeneland turf course. Trained by two-time Appalachian winner Mike Stidham, Alms has won four of five career starts, including Grade 3 victories in the Matron at Belmont and the Jimmy Durante at Del Mar. Fifth as the favorite in the Tepin Stakes at Churchill Downs in her most recent start, Alms will be ridden by Joel Rosario.
2:55 p.m.—$150,000 Grade 2 Ruffian Stakes at Belmont Park on FS2
Eclipse Award-winner Monomoy Girl will attempt to bolster her bid for another championship season in headlining a five-horse field for the Ruffian Stakes over Belmont Park’s main track. Trained by Brad Cox, Monomoy Girl arrives at the event off an allowance victory on May 16 at Churchill Downs contested at the Ruffian distance of a one-turn mile. Her 2 ¾-length score off a nearly 18-month layoff marked the 5-year-old debut for the chestnut daughter of Tapizar, whose previous start was a one-length victory in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Distaff in November 2018 at Churchill Downs.
3:18 p.m.—$250,000 Grade 1 Madison Stakes at Keeneland on TVG
Grade 1 winners Guarana and Mia Mischief head a field of nine fillies and mares for the Madison that will be run over seven furlongs on the main track. Three Chimneys Farm and Hill ‘n’ Dale Equine Holdings Guarana debuted at Keeneland during the 2019 Spring Meet with a 14¾-length victory that was a springboard to Grade 1 victories in the Acorn and Coaching Club of America Oaks. A dominating winner in her 2020 debut last month at Churchill Downs, Guarana is trained by Chad Brown. Stonestreet Stables’ Mia Mischief, who broke her maiden in her second start by 16¼ lengths during Keeneland’s 2017 Fall Meet, won the Grade 1 Humana Distaff in 2019 at Churchill Downs. A winner of two of three starts in 2020, Mia Mischief is trained by Steve Asmussen.
3:51 p.m.—$150,000 Grade 2 Shakertown Stakes at Keeneland on TVG
Wesley Ward’s Bound for Nowhere, winner of the 2018 Shakertown and runner-up in 2019, headlines an overflow field of 14 in the 24th running of the Grade 2 event. Trained by Ward, Bound for Nowhere was second in the Grade 3 San Simeon at Santa Anita in March in his lone start of 2020. A victory Saturday would put Bound for Nowhere in the same class as Soaring Free (2004, 2005) as the only two-time winners of the Shakertown.
4:15 p.m.—$125,000 Grade 3 Robert G. Dick Memorial Stakes at Delaware Park on TVG
Morsches Stable Gentle Ruler will be seeking a repeat victory in the Robert G. Dick Memorial at Delaware Park this Saturday. Last year, Gentle Ruler posted 2 ¾-length in the Robert G. Dick Memorial. The Kentucky-bred followed with a fourth in the Grade 3 Waya Stakes at Saratoga on August 4 and completed her season with a half-length score in the $500,000 Ramsey Farm Stakes at Kentucky Downs on September 12 and a 2 ½-length victory in the Grade 3 Dowager Stakes at Keeneland on October 20.
4:15 p.m.—$175,000 Grade 2 Connaught Cup Stakes at Woodbine on TVG
City Boy, who pulled off a 24-1 upset in last year’s Grade 2 Nearctic Stakes, faces seven rivals on the E.P. Taylor Turf Course in Saturday’s Connaught Cup Stakes. Trained by 2020 Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame inductee Mike Keogh, the six-year-old gelding brings a record of 3-6-2 from 17 starts into the seven-furlong Connaught Cup. A son of City Zip, City Boy debuted on April 21, 2017, finishing second in a five-furlong main track race at Woodbine.
4:24 p.m.—$400,000 Grade 1 Ashland Stakes at Keeneland on TVG
Grade 2 stakes winners Bonny South, Tonalist’s Shape and Venetian Harbor headline the 1 1/16-miles Ashland Stakes, which offers 170 points on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks on a 100-40-20-10 scale to the first four finishers. Juddmonte Farms’ Bonny South, winner of the Fair Grounds Oaks on March 21, has been working consistently at Keeneland since late April. Trained by Brad Cox, who won the 2018 Central Bank Ashland with champion Monomoy Girl, Bonny South is second on the Kentucky Oaks leaderboard with 100 points.
4:45 p.m.—$400,000 Grade 2 Delaware Handicap at Delaware Park on TVG
Peter Brant’s Dunbar Road tops the 83rd renewal of the Delaware Handicap, which has attracted a field of eight and will be contested at 1 1/8-miles for the first time. In her only outing this year, Dunbar Road posted a 1 ¾-length victory in the $100,000 Shawnee Stakes at Churchill Downs on May 23. Last year, the 4-year-old trained by Chad Brown won the Grade 2 Mother Goose at Belmont Park and the Grade 1 Alabama at Saratoga before running third in the Grade 1 Spinster at Keeneland. The daughter of Quality Road closed her 2019 campaign by finishing fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.
4:57 p.m.—$350,000 Grade 1 Jenny Wiley Stakes at Keeneland on TVG
E Five Racing Thoroughbreds’ Rushing Fall will chase history Saturday when she headlines a field of eight in the Jenny Wiley going 1 1/16 miles on the turf. Trained by three-time race winner Chad Brown, Rushing Fall will be trying to join Intercontinental (GB) (2004-2005) as the only repeat winner of the race. With a victory Saturday, Rushing Fall would join Lady Eli and Beholder as the only horses since 1976 to win Grade 1 races at ages 2, 3, 4 and 5.
5:30 p.m.—$600,000 Grade 2 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on TVG
Peter Callahan’s Swiss Skydiver will try to put herself on the Kentucky Derby trail Saturday when she takes on males in a field of 13 horses entered for the 96th running of the Blue Grass Stakes for 3-year-olds going 1 1/8 miles. Swiss Skydiver will be seeking her initial Kentucky Derby points in her first test against males. Winner of the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks, Grade 3 Fantasy and Grade 2 Santa Anita Oaks in her past three starts, Swiss Skydiver will get a 5-pound weight allowance Saturday and carry 118 pounds in the Blue Grass. No filly has won the Blue Grass and only one filly has run in the race since it debuted at Keeneland during the track’s inaugural Spring Meet in April 1937.
Sunday July 12
4:24 p.m.—$100,000 Grade 3 Transylvania Stakes at Keeneland on TVG
Three Diamonds Farm’s Field Pass will face 10 foes as he goes for his fourth stakes victory of 2020 in the 32nd running of the Transylvania Stakes for 3-year-olds going 1 1/16 miles on the turf. Fourth in last fall’s Grade 3 Bourbon Stakes in his lone Keeneland start, Field Pass has posted stakes victories on the grass this year in the Dania Beach and Gulfstream and last month in the Audubon at Churchill Downs. Field Pass also won the Grade 3 Jeff Ruby Steaks on Turfway Park’s all-weather surface in March.
5:30 p.m.—$175,000 Grade 2 Elkhorn Stakes at Keeneland on NBCSN
Michael Hui’s six-time graded stakes winner Zulu Alpha will shoot for his third victory of 2020 when he headlines a field of 13 grass marathoners in the Elkhorn, contested over 1½ miles over the Keeneland turf course. Winner of the 2018 Grade 3 Sycamore and third as the favorite in the 2019 Dixiana Elkhorn, Zulu Alpha started his 2020 campaign with a victory in the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational and followed that with a triumph in the Grade 2 Mac Diarmida. In his most recent start, Zulu Alpha was second in the Grade 2 Pan American going 1½ miles.