LEXINGTON, Ky. (August 2, 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.
The Grade 1 Whitney Stakes at Saratoga Race Course headlines this weekend’s action and will serve as a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, as well as a chance to further honor the memory of racing icon Marylou Whitney, who passed away on July 19 at the age of 93.
The 92nd running of the 1 1/8-miles Whitney will be broadcast nationwide on NBC Sports from 5-6 p.m. ET.
NYRA’s “Saratoga Live” programming, which began on July 11 and runs through Labor Day, airs each day of the Saratoga meet on FS2. In addition to the broadcasts on FS2, all Saratoga races will air on TVG as part of their coast-to-coast racing coverage.
HRRN will be on-site at the “Spa” every Saturday throughout the 2019 season to provide exclusive radio coverage of the meet’s premier stakes races. This weekend’s broadcast live from Saratoga will feature coverage of the Whitney Stakes from 5-6 p.m. ET on Sirius 219/XM 201 and streaming live on horseracingradio.net.
Friday August 2
4:39 p.m.— $200,000 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes at Saratoga Race Course on FS2 and TVG
John Oxley’s graded stakes-winner Moon Colony will look to capitalize on a distance cutback in Friday’s National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame for 3-year-olds at one mile over the inner turf. The Mark Casse-trained bay Uncle Mo colt set the pace last out in the Grade 1 Belmont Gold Cup Invitational, where he was pressed up front by Blenheim Palace before fading to ninth. That start came after winning his graded stakes debut in the Grade 2 Penn Mile on June 1 at Penn National.
5:51 p.m.— $750,000 Saratoga Oaks Invitational Stakes at Saratoga Race Course on FS2 and TVG
Ashbrook Farm and BBN Racing’s three-time graded stakes winner Concrete Rose will look to capture the first two legs of NYRA’s first-year Turf Tiara series as part of a talented six-horse field of 3-year-old fillies competing in the inaugural running of the $750,000 Saratoga Oaks Invitational. The Turf Triple, featuring the Turf Trinity for 3-year-old males and the Turf Tiara for sophomore fillies, kicked off with the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks Invitational, which Concrete Rose won in surging 2 ¾-lengths clear of Just Wonderful at 1 ¼ miles on July 6. That marked the third consecutive win for the Rusty Arnold trainee, who has earned a trip to the winner’s circle in five of her six career starts.
Saturday August 3
3:21 p.m.—$200,000 Grade 3 Troy Stakes at Saratoga Race Course on FS2 and TVG
In search of his sixth consecutive victory, multiple Grade 1 winner World of Trouble will headline a talented field of six in the Troy going 5 ½ furlongs on the Mellon turf course. World of Trouble, a 4-year-old son of Kantharos trained by Jason Servis, enters the Troy off an impressive 1 ¾-length victory in the Grade 1 Jaipur Invitational on June 8 at Belmont Park. Unbeaten in four starts this year, including wins in the Grade 2 Turf Sprint Stakes at Churchill Downs and the Grade 1 Carter Handicap on the dirt last April at Aqueduct, Servis said at first he wasn’t sure how talented World of Trouble was when he first entered his barn before his sophomore debut, but quickly found out when he won the Pasco at Tampa Bay Downs by 13 ¾ lengths.
4:55 p.m.— $200,000 Grade 3 West Virginia Governor’s Stakes at Mountaineer at on TVG
The West Virginia Governor’s Cup has attracted a full field of 12 and, assuming minimal scratches, could be its largest field in recent memory. The 1 1/16-mile event for 3-year-olds and up includes multiple graded-stakes winner Sir Anthony, who captured the Grade 3 Cornhusker Handicap on July 5, and graded-stakes winner Silver Dust, who fell a head shy of winning the Michael G. Schaefer Memorial Stakes at Indiana Grand July 13. Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, who has won the Governor’s Cup twice—in 2008 with West Virginia Derby winner Zanjero and in 2012 with Tapizar—entered Bloom Racing Stable’s Snapper Sinclair, who just missed in the Essex Handicap at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas in mid-March and most recently was an easy winner of a one-turn-mile allowance event at Churchill Downs.
5:06 p.m.— $500,000 Grade 1 Test Stakes at Saratoga Race Course on NBCSN and TVG
Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks winner Serengeti Empress will shorten up to seven furlongs when attempting her second top-level victory in Saturday’s Test for 3-year-old fillies. Joel Politi’s dark bay daughter of Alternation won the Kentucky Oaks gate-to-wire on an uncontested lead and ran home to victory by 1 ¾ lengths before a runner-up effort behind Guarana in the Grade 1 Acorn on June 8 at Belmont Park. Saturday will mark a cut back in distance for Serengeti Empress, who has not raced at the Test’s distance since a romping 13 1/2-length win in the Ellis Park Debutante last August.
5:35 p.m.— $500,000 Grade 3 West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer on TVG
With three straight graded stakes wins to his credit, Allied Racing’s Mr. Money stands out as the 6-5 favorite on the morning line in a 10-horse field for the West Virginia Derby. The son of Goldencents trained by Bret Calhoun most recently overcame some anxious moments in taking the Grade 3 Indiana Derby on July 13 when he ended up having to dodge Eskenforit, who had lost his rider at the start but kept on running with the rest of the field, in the stretch en route to his 2 ½ length victory.
5:46 p.m.— $1,000,000 Grade 1 Whitney Stakes at Saratoga Race Course on NBCSN and TVG
Grade 1-winners McKinzie, Thunder Snow (IRE), Vino Rosso and Yoshida (JPN) square off in the Whitney, the headliner on a card featuring five stakes races. McKinzie will look to give Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert his first Whitney win. Last out, in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap, McKinzie endured a troubled trip before rallying to finish second. Godolphin’s Thunder Snow is the richest thoroughbred in training with $16,511,476 in purse earnings. The multiple Group 1-winner has captured the last two editions of the Group 1 Dubai World Cup and returns to New York in search of a first win in North America.
7 p.m.—$200,000 Grade 2 Sorrento Stakes at Del Mar on TVG
A field of six was entered for the Sorrento Stakes, a six-furlong sprint for 2-year-old fillies that is the major prep for the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante August 31. Comical, a daughter of Into Mischief trained by Doug O’Neill, won her debut on May 26 at Santa Anita by six lengths then shipped to Saratoga for a score by a neck in the Grade 3 Schuylerville Stakes in the mud on July 11.
8:30 p.m.—$200,000 Grade 2 Yellow Ribbon Handicap at Del Mar on TVG
Vasilika, winner of a dozen races, including three Grade 1 stakes since being claimed for $40,000 early last year, will seek to strengthen her bid for year-end national recognition when she carries highweight of 125 pounds Saturday versus eight rivals in the Yellow Ribbon Handicap. Vasilika, a five-year-old mare by Skipshot trained by Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer, has won 17 of 32 races over-all in a rags to riches career while earning almost $1.4 million. She is perfect in four starts this year, most recently capturing the Grade 1 Gamely at Santa Anita in May.
Sunday August 4
3:21 p.m.—$200,000 Grade 3 Waya Stakes at Saratoga Race Course on FS2 and TVG
Gentle Ruler seeks her fifth straight win against a field of six in the Waya for fillies and mares 3-years-old and upward going 1 ½ miles on the inner turf. A 4-year-old daughter of Colonel, Gentle Ruler kicked off her campaign with a victory to break her maiden in her 12th career start last March at Gulfstream Park and has remained unbeaten since. Following up with an allowance win on April 24 at Keeneland, she next captured a pair of stakes victories in the Keertana on May 25 at Churchill Downs and her first graded stakes victory last out in the Grade 3 Robert G. Dick Memorial on July 6 at Delaware Park.
5:48 p.m.—$1,000,000 Saratoga Derby Invitational at Saratoga Race Course on FS2 and TVG
Henley’s Joy captured the opening leg of the New York Racing Association’s newly implemented Turf Triple series with a career-best effort in the Grade 1 Belmont Derby last out and will look to add the second jewel in Sunday’s first running of the $1 million Saratoga Derby. The Turf Trinity for 3-year-old males kicked off last month when Henley’s Joy, off at 20-1, upset the 14-horse field in the Belmont Derby on July 6. The Mike Maker trainee will now look to go 2-for-2 in the series entering his Saratoga debut, contested at 1 3/16-miles on the Mellon turf course.
6:23 p.m.—$300,000 Grade 2 Adirondack Stakes at Saratoga Race Course on FS2 and TVG
Three Chimneys Farm’s Magic Dance will look to stay unbeaten, drawing the outside post in the eight-horse filed assembled for the Adirondack for 2-year-old fillies over the main track. Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen trains the daughter of More Than Ready, who is the field’s lone only stakes winner. Last out, she was a 1 ½-length victor of the Debutante at Churchill Downs, building on a 4 ¾-length triumph in her June 7 debut over the Louisville oval.
8 p.m.—$150,000 Grade 3 La Jolla Handicap at Del Mar on TVG
A field of eight, among them Oceanside Stakes winner Jasikan (IRE), were entered for Sunday’s La Jolla Handicap, the second leg in the three-race grass stakes series for 3-year-olds. Jasikan is one of five horses that will compete in the first two races of the series. A winner by a nose over Nolde in the one-mile Oceanside, Jasikan will be joined by Rijeka (IRE), Golden Birthday, Gregorian Chant (GB), and King of Speed in the 1 1/16–miles La Jolla.