LEXINGTON, Ky. (August 30, 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 Labor Day weekend marks the final one of live racing for both the 2019 Saratoga Race Course and Del Mar meetings. Saratoga closes out its run with a trio of Grade 1 races over three days highlighted by Saturday’s Woodward Stakes while Del Mar has the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante and Del Mar Futurity as part of its lineup. The Woodward will be the centerpiece of Saturday’s Saratoga Live broadcast airing on FS2 from 2:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET, and regionally on MSG+ from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
HRRN will be on-site at both the “Spa” and Colonial Downs this weekend with Saturday’s broadcast featuring coverage of the Woodward from 5:30-6:30 p.m. and Virginia Derby coverage from 8-9:30 p.m. Both broadcasts will be on Sirius/XM 156 and streaming live on horseracingradio.net.
Saturday August 31
1:36 p.m.—$250,000 Grade 2 Prioress Stakes at Saratoga Race Course on TVG
Klein Racing’s Break Even, perfect through six starts, and Ghost Hollow Farm’s Risky Mandate, undefeated in two appearances, are both featured in the Prioress, a six-furlong sprint for sophomore fillies. Break Even, a dark bay daughter of Country Day trained by Brad Cox, won her first two starts at Fair Grounds before winning the Purple Martin at Oaklawn in her stakes debut. Cox then stepped the talented filly up in class in the Grade 2 Eight Belles at seven furlongs over a sloppy Churchill Downs main track, where she won by a widening 5 1/2-lengths.
3:15 p.m.—$200,000 Grade 3 Saranac Stakes at Saratoga Race Course on FS2 and TVG
Live Oak Plantation’s graded-stakes winning homebred Global Access headlines a compact, but talented, field of six in the Saranac going 1 1/16-miles over the Mellon turf course. Global Access, a chestnut son of Giant’s Causeway, was a winner at second asking on the Woodbine Tapeta when routing for the first time. He has shown versatility in his 10-race career winning the Sophomore Turf at Tampa Bay Downs and the Grade 3 Marine Stakes on the Woodbine main track in May.
5:11 p.m.—$750,000 Tourist Mile at Kentucky Downs on TVG
The Tourist Mile is one of four stakes on the opening day of the Kentucky Downs meeting and drew an overflow field. Grade 1-winner Next Shares invades from California, where he has been firing bullet works at San Luis Rey Training Center and Del Mar in preparation for his first start since May. Though coming off three consecutive off-the-board finishes, all three of those losses came in Grade 1 company and he prevailed in the Old Friends Stakes over this course last fall, a race before he won the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile.
5:27 p.m.—$250,000 Grade 2 Glens Falls Stakes at Saratoga Race Course on FS2 and TVG
Saratoga Race Course meet leading trainer Chad Brown will look to saddle his seventh graded turf stakes winner of the meet on Saturday entering a formidable trio for the Glens Falls. Headlining Brown’s triumvirate in the 1 3/8-miles inner turf marathon is multiple graded stakes winner Santa Monica for R Unicorn Stable. The 6-year-old British-bred Mastercraftsman mare has two wins from four starts this campaign, including victories in the Grade 3 Orchid at Gulfstream Park in March and the Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay in May at Belmont Park.
6 p.m.—$750,000 Grade 1 Woodward Stakes at Saratoga Race Course on FS2 and TVG
Older horses will seek their final chance to win a graded stakes at the Saratoga Race Course meet when a field of nine assembles for Saturday’s $750,000 Woodward Stakes. G M B Racing’s Tom’s d’Etat will attempt to keep his undefeated record at Saratoga alive while also looking to net his first graded stakes win. The lightly-raced 6-year-old son of Smart Strike has won all three of his starts at Saratoga. Trainer Todd Pletcher has saddled three Woodward winners and will send out a trio of contenders for this year’s Woodward headed up by Grade 1 winner Vino Rosso. Vino Rosso won the Grade 1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita in May and was a recent third behind McKinzie in the Grade 1 Whitney Stakes.
8:15 p.m.— $200,000 Grade 2 John C. Mabee Stakes at Del Mar on TVG
A field of 10, topped by defending race winner and multiple Grade 1-winner Vasilika, was entered for Saturday’s John C. Mabee Stakes. Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Vasilika has won eight of her last 10 starts, all but one in graded stakes, while building career earnings of more than $1.3 million. Vasilika was ridden by Julien Leparoux to a third-place finish in the Grade 2 Yellow Ribbon Stakes on August 19 while regular jockey Flavien Prat was at Saratoga to ride Bellafina. Prat will be back in the irons Saturday.
9 p.m.—$250,000 Grade 3 Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs on TVG
Calumet Farm’s English Channel colt English Bee and their Street Sense colt Tracksmith lead a field of nine 3-year-olds that will compete over 1 1/8 miles Saturday in the 17th running of the Virginia Derby. Trainer Graham Motion has entered a trio that includes 5-2 morning line favorite English Bee, who raced against his stablemate and Derby entrant Shootin the Breeze in the James Murphy Stakes May 18 at Pimlico. English Bee won the black-type stakes while Shootin the Breeze was third. Most recently, he was fourth in the Grade 2 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes August 2 at Saratoga and tenth in the Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes July 6.
9:14 p.m.—$300,000 Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante Stakes at Del Mar on TVG
A field of eight, among them the supplement of Peter Miller-trained Leucothea, was entered for Saturday’s Del Mar Debutante. A daughter of Midshipman, Leucothea was a romping 14 ½-length winner in a 5 ½-furlong maiden claimer here on August 15 and was supplemented to the seven-furlong Debutante for $10,000. The supplement counteracts the absence of Immediate Impact, a daughter of Into Mischief trained by Bob Baffert, who was a 6 ¾-length winner debuting at 5 ½ furlongs on July 28. Baffert still plans to have two runners in the Debutante – Bast, runner-up to Inspiressa, beaten 1 ¼ lengths, on August 11, and Stellar Sound, a recent winner at Del Mar.
Sunday September 1
5:26 p.m.—$150,000 Grade 3 Red Bank Stakes at Monmouth Park on TVG
Multiple Grade 1-winner Divisidero will look to add to his impressive career credentials in the Grade 3 Red Bank Stakes. After just missing by a head in the Grade 3 Oceanport Stakes on July 20 at Monmouth Park as the 7-10 favorite, the son of Kitten’s Joy will look to break through in 2019 after posting three second-place finishes in his four starts so far without a victory. If he does, it will mark the fifth straight year that Divisidero has recorded a graded stakes victory.
5:50 p.m.—$350,000 Grade 1 Spinaway Stakes at Saratoga Race Course on FS2 and TVG
Tracy Farmer’s Perfect Alibi has already won a graded stakes this summer at Saratoga Race Course and will look to notch her first Grade 1 victory as part of a seven-horse field of juvenile fillies in the 128th running of the Spinaway at seven furlongs. Perfect Alibi closed strong to post a half-length victory in the Grade 2 Adirondack Stakes on August 4 at 6 ½ furlongs. The daughter of Sky Mesa burst onto the scene on May 16 at Churchill Downs with a 9 ½-length score in a five-furlong sprint and took a step up in class next out, battling Maryanorginger before finishing second by a half-length in the 5 ½-furlong Astoria on June 6 at Belmont Park.
9 p.m.—$250,000 Grade 2 Del Mar Derby at Del Mar on TVG
La Jolla Handicap winner Kingly drew the outside pots for Sunday’s Del Mar Derby, the climax of the summer meeting’s turf stakes series for 3-year-olds. The Derby, at 1 1/8 miles, follows the opening-day Oceanside Stakes, won by Jasikan, and the 1 1/16-mile La Jolla on August 4. A newcomer to the series is John Sadler-trained Nolo Contesto, a Kentucky Derby prospect early in the year who will be making his second start on turf.