LEXINGTON, Ky. (October 18, 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.
Graded stakes action will be at a minimum for the next two weeks on this side of the ocean in advance of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships Nov. 1-2, but British Champions Day at Ascot Saturday features the outstanding stayer Stradivarius (IRE) aiming to add to his unblemished season as well as Magical (IRE), the runner-up to champion Enable (GB) in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf. While the graded stakes action is winding down at Keeneland, Grade 1 winner Restless Rider makes her first start since the Kentucky Oaks in the Grade 2 Raven Run Stakes.
Friday October 18
5:30 p.m.—$150,000 Grade 3 Valley View Stakes at Keeneland on TVG
Peter Brant’s Blowout (GB), who spent most of the summer chasing stablemate Regal Glory in graded stakes tests at Saratoga, headlines a field of 14 3-year-old fillies and one also-eligible entered for the 29th running of the Valley View to be run at 1 1/16 miles on the turf. Trained by Chad Brown, Blowout finished a half-length behind Regal Glory in the Grade 3 Lake George Stakes and a neck back in the Grade 2 Lake Placid Stakes before posting a front-running 2¼-length victory in the Pebbles on Sept. 14 in her most recent start.
Saturday October 19
1:15 a.m.— AU$14 million The Everest at Randwick on TVG
The eyes of the racing world will focus on Sydney’s Royal Randwick for the third running of the world’s richest race on turf, The Everest, which has attracted a strong field of 12 sprinters. Dual defending champion Redzel (AUS) is looking for a remarkable three-peat for trainers Peter and Paul Snowden and jockey Kerrin McEvoy. Coolmore’s Ten Sovereigns (IRE) is the highest rated internationally trained sprinter ever to race in Australia for trainer Aidan O’Brien while Santa Ana Lane (AUS), looms the favorite for trainer Anthony Freedman and jockey Mark Zahra.
9:10 a.m.— Group 2 British Champions Long Distance Cup at Ascot on TVG
Stradivarius is on course to try and cap another flawless campaign with a repeat victory in the British Champions Long Distance Cup at Ascot on Saturday. The supreme stayer has not lost for two years and extended his winning sequence to ten with an easy success in the Magners Rosé Doncaster Cup last month. Earlier in the summer he had won a second Matchbook Yorkshire Cup, a second Gold Cup, a third Goodwood Cup and a second Hamilton Lonsdale Cup – exploits that secured his connections a second consecutive Stayers’ Million bonus offered by Weatherbys Hamilton. His owner-breeder, Bjorn Nielsen, has issued a positive bulletin ahead of QIPCO British Champions Day and also assured racing fans that his intention is to keep the John Gosden-trained 5-year-old in training next year with a third win in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot the main objective.
11 a.m.— Group 1 Champion Stakes at Ascot on TVG
Deirdre (JPN) has already provided Japan with a notable victory in Britain this year and will seek to cap her stay on these shores with a famous victory in the Champion Stakes. She became only the second horse trained in Japan, after Agnes World in the July Cup of 2000, to win a Group 1 race in Britain when beating Mehdaayih (GB) in the Qatar Nassau Stakes at Goodwood in August. She showed it was no fluke when an unlucky fourth to Magical, who she meets again, in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on her latest start.
2:18 pm.—$125,000 Grade 3 Ontario Fashion Stakes at Woodbine on TVG
Sanity, a five-year-old daughter of City Zip, steps up to the stakes stage in the Ontario Fashion Stakes, a six-furlong main track event. Trained by Steven Chircop, who co-owns with Domenic Liscio, Sanity will contest her first added-money event since finishing fifth in last year’s Richard R. Scherer Memorial Stakes at Fair Grounds. Claimed for $62,500 this spring by Chircop, the Kentucky-bred mare has been a consistent performer throughout her career. Fashioning a record of 9-4-5 from 26 starts, Sanity went 5-1-1 in nine engagements in 2018, and is 1-1-3 over eight starts this campaign.
5:30 p.m.—$250,000 Grade 2 Raven Run Stakes at Keeneland on TVG
Three Chimneys Farm and Fern Circle Stables’ Restless Rider and First Row Partners’ Royal Charlotte headline a field of 11 for the 21st running of the Raven Run at seven furlongs on the main track. Trained by Kenny McPeek, Restless Rider will be making her first start since the Kentucky Oaks in which she finished off the board for the first time in eight starts. In her two Keeneland starts, she won last fall’s Grade 1 Darley Alcibiades Stakes and this spring was runner-up in the Grade 1 Ashland Stakes. Brian Hernandez Jr., will be aboard Restless Rider, who returns to a sprint distance for the first time since a runner-up finish in the Grade 1 Spinaway Stakes at Saratoga as a 2-year-old.
Sunday October 20
4:57 pm.—$125,000 Grade 3 Dowager Stakes at Keeneland on TVG
Multiple Grade 3 winner Elysea’s World (IRE) tops a field of 13 fillies and mares entered for the 28th running of the Dowager Stakes going 1 ½ miles on the grass. Purchased for $500,000 at the 2018 Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale, Elysea’s World comes off a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Rodeo Drive at Santa Anita on Sept. 28. In her career, the 6-year-old mare has won four Grade 3 stakes and placed in nine other graded events. Now trained by Richard Baltas, Elysea’s World has posted a 6-1-0-1 mark this year for the partnership headed by Abbondanza Racing.
5:13 pm.—$200,000 Grade 3 Athenia Stakes at Belmont Park on TVG
Trainer Christophe Clement will send out a pair of European-bred contenders with Victorine (FR) and Candy Store (IRE) both looking for their first respective North American stakes victories in the Athenia at 1 1/16 miles on the inner turf. Victorine ended her sophomore campaign with a third-place finish in the Pebbles in October 2018 at Belmont. The French-bred Le Havre filly returned off a 10-month layoff to run fifth at one mile on August 9 at Saratoga Race Course and came back to run third against optional claimers at the Athenia distance on September 22 over firm Belmont turf. Victorine stayed at Belmont since them and recorded two breezes this month, including a four-furlong inner turf work in 49.97 seconds on Sunday.