LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 5, 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.
On Saturday, two-time Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner and reigning Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf heroine Enable (GB) is slated to make her 2019 debut in the Group 1 Coral-Eclipse Stakes at Sandown Park. The inaugural $5.25 million Turf Triple Series, featuring the Turf Trinity and Turf Tiara for sophomores over three legs at Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course, is also set to begin Saturday as part of the Stars & Stripes Festival.
Three of the graded stakes on the Stars & Stripes card will anchor a two-hour broadcast by NBC – the $1 million Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes, the $750,000 Belmont Oaks Invitational Stakes, and the $300,000 John A. Nerud Stakes. The broadcast will air on NBC from 4-6 p.m. ET as part of NBC Sports’ “Win and You’re In” schedule.
Friday July 5
5:18 p.m.— $150,000 Grade 3 Victory Ride Stakes at Belmont Park on TVG
Fortune Farm’s homebred Sue’s Fortune will look to add a second graded win to her credentials in Friday’s Victory Ride, a 6 1/2-furlong dirt sprint for sophomore fillies. Trained by Jeremiah Englehart, Sue’s Fortune impressed on debut with an 8 1/2-length score in a 5 1/2-furlong maiden event at Belmont. The Jump Start bay followed up with a half-length score in the Grade 2 Adirondack at Saratoga, before completing her campaign with an off-the-board effort in the Grade 1 Frizette, a one-turn mile at Belmont.
9:27 p.m.— $200,000 Grade 3 Iowa Oaks at Prairie Meadows on TVG
Graded stakes winner Lady Apple heads up a field of seven entrants in what will be her first start since finishing third in the Longines Kentucky Oaks on May 3 at Churchill Downs. Trained by Steve Asmussen, Lady Apple won her first three starts of 2019 and earned her way into the Oaks when she captured the Grade 3 Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn on April 12.
10:33 p.m.— $300,000 Grade 3 Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap at Prairie Meadows on TVG
Exclamation Point, a half-brother to champion Classic Empire, steps into graded stakes company for the first time against a field of 10 challengers in the 1 1/8-miles Cornhusker Handicap. Trained by Brad Cox, Exclamation Point won his first three career outings before suffering his first loss in his seasonal bow at Oaklawn in February. The son of Concord Point went on to take his next two starts and heads into his latest test off a runner-up finish in the Oaklawn Mile Stakes on May 3.
Saturday July 6
10:35 a.m.— £750,000 Group 1 Coral-Eclipse Stakes at Sandown Park on TVG
Enable, the Cartier Horse of The Year in 2017, makes her eagerly-awaited first start since taking the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Turf at Churchill Downs last November. Trainer John Gosden has not rushed the dual Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe heroine into action this term, with all her major targets in the second half of the season and a third win in the Arc as the primary objective. Among those Enable will face is fellow multiple Group 1 winner Magical (IRE), who was second, beaten just three-quarters of a length in the Breeders’ Cup Turf.
3:55 p.m.—$250,000 Grade 3 Dwyer Stakes at Belmont Park on TVG
After being elevated to second in the Kentucky Derby, Code of Honor is making his anticipated reappearance to the races, cutting back in distance in the one-mile Dwyer. The chestnut son of Noble Mission raced over a sloppy going for the first time in the Kentucky Derby, where he crossed the wire third but was placed second following the subsequent disqualification of Maximum Security. Code of Honor was third in the Grade 1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park behind Maximum Security after winning the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth in February over the South Florida oval.
4:03 p.m.—$200,000 Grade 3 Kent Stakes at Delaware Park on TVG
Three Diamonds Farm Empire of War tops the Kent Stakes at Delaware Park, a 1 1/8-miles grass affair has attracted a field of ten 3-year-olds. Empire of War has a career record of two wins, a second and two thirds from seven starts with earnings of $143,650. In his latest, the son of Declaration of War finished second in the $75,000 Tale of the Cat Stakes going a mile and a sixteenth over the Monmouth Park turf on June 1.
4:09 p.m.—$200,000 Grade 3 Parx Dash Stakes at Parx on TVG
Pure Sensation, winner of the Parx Dash in 2016 and 2017 and third in the race one year ago, is back to try the five-furlong test for a fourth time. The gelded son of Zensational trained by Christophe Clement has won both of his starts in 2019 including a victory in the Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup Stakes at Penn National on June 1. Pure Sensation has had ample success over the Parx track having also captured the Grade 3 Turf Monster in 2015, 2017, and 2018.
4:30 p.m.—$750,000 Grade 1 Belmont Oaks Invitational at Belmont Park on NBC and TVG
Ashbrook Farm and BBN Racing’s Concrete Rose and Klaravich Stables’ Newspaperofrecord (IRE) will renew their rivalry in the Belmont Oaks Invitational, a 1 1/4-mile test on the inner turf featuring an international field of nine sophomore fillies at Belmont Park. Concrete Rose, a dark bay daughter of Twirling Candy trained by Rusty Arnold, has won 4-of-5 career starts. Her only loss came in Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf when eighth in a race won by Newspaperofrecord. Concrete Rose opened her 2019 campaign with a half-length victory in the Grade 3 Florida Oaks at Tampa Bay Downs and last out, in the Grade 3 Edgewood on May 3 at Churchill Downs, she handed Newspaperofrecord her first career defeat with a rallying 3 ¾-length score.
4:37 p.m.—$300,000 Grade 3 Delaware Oaks at Delaware Park on TVG
D.J. Stable and Cash is King Stables Jaywalk will be seeking her first victory since winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies when she faces six rivals in the 1 1/16-miles Delaware Oaks. The Kentucky-bred trained by John Servis closed her 2018 campaign last year by capturing the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies en route to taking the Eclipse Award for divisional honors. In her most recent effort, she was off the board in the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs on May 3.
5:05 p.m.—$300,000 Grade 2 John A. Nerud Stakes at Belmont Park on NBC and TVG
Robert Baron’s multiple graded stakes winner Promises Fulfilled will look to rebound off a fourth in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap in the seven-furlong John A. Nerud, a Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In qualifying race for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Promises Fulfilled showed promise as a sophomore on the Kentucky Derby trail winning the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park and went on to compete in the Kentucky Derby where he finished fifteenth. Subsequently cutting back in distance, he finished third in the Grade 2 Woody Stephens at Belmont Park, before winning three consecutive stakes races including the Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens Stakes last August.
5:12 p.m.—$200,000 Grade 3 Robert G. Dick Memorial Stakes at Delaware Park on TVG
After finishing one-two in the $100,000 Keertana Stakes at Churchill Downs on May 25, Morsches Stable Gentle Ruler and Juddmonte Farms’ Gaining (GB) will square off again in Robert G. Dick Memorial Stakes, which has attracted a field of eleven. Gentle Ruler has won her last three in a row after having 12 attempts to break her maiden. On March 28, the Kentucky-bred trained by Ian Wilkes broke her maiden going a mile and a sixteenth on the main track at Gulfstream Park.
5:44 p.m.—$1,000,000 Grade 1 Belmont Derby Invitational at Belmont Park on NBC and TVG
Imperial Racing millionaire Plus Que Parfait already has bested a talented field of international contenders on dirt when he captured the Group 2 UAE Derby in March. The Brendan Walsh trainee will look for similar success as he transitions to turf as part of a full 14-horse field of 3-year-olds in the Belmont Derby Invitational. Plus Que Parfait, who has already banked more than $1.5 million on the back of his three-quarter length victory in the UAE Derby on March 30, will be returning to turf for the first time since running third in his career debut in July 2018 at Ellis Park. Trainer Chad Brown will enter four formidable contenders, including Peter Brant’s undefeated Demarchelier. The English-bred is 3-for-3, improving his Beyer Speed Figures in every start, including an 89 for winning the Grade 3 Pennine Ridge on June 1 at Belmont.
6:18 p.m.—$700,000 Suburban Stakes at Belmont Park on TVG
Ultra consistent Catholic Boy has won at the highest level on both dirt and turf and will now go for back-to-back graded stakes triumphs on both surfaces when breaking from the rail against ten others in the Suburban for older horses. The 4-year-old bay More Than Ready colt won the Grade 2 Dixie Stakes over the turf at Pimlico in his seasonal debut for owners Robert LaPenta, Madaket Stables, Siena Farm and Twin Creeks Racing Stables. The Jonathan Thomas trainee was a dual Grade 1 winner last year, taking the Belmont Derby Invitational and subsequently the Travers at Saratoga.
7:58 p.m.—$200,000 Grade 2 Great Lady M. Stakes at Los Alamitos on TVG
Defending race winner Marley’s Freedom headlines a field of seven for the Great Lady M. Stakes. Owned by Cicero Farms LLC and trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, Marley’s Freedom won the 2018 renewal by 1 ½ lengths, defeating a field that included, among others, 2017 heroine Skye Diamonds. A 5-year-old daughter of Blame, Marley’s Freedom captured the Grade 2 Santa Monica Stakes in her seasonal bow in February and was most recently second in the Grade 1 Humana Distaff May 4 at Churchill Downs.