LEXINGTON, Ky. (September 13, 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 23rd running of the Woodbine Mile headlines a top slate of races at the Toronto-based track as it plays host to four Grade 1 tests and three Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” qualifiers this weekend. As the Churchill Downs September meet gets underway, the historic Louisville venue kicks off the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” and “Road to the Kentucky Oaks” with the Grade 2 Iroquois and Grade 2 Pocahontas Stakes on Saturday.
NYRA’s “America’s Day at the Races” show began last week from Belmont Park and this upcoming weekend will offer coverage from New York and also broadcast the Breeders’ Cup qualifiers from Churchill Downs and Woodbine. The show is produced in partnership with FOX Sports and is presented by America’s Best Racing, Runhappy, and Claiborne Farm. “America’s Day at the Races” airs on FS2 and on various regional channels.
Races from Churchill Downs, Woodbine, and Belmont Park will also be broadcast live on TVG as part of their comprehensive coast-to-coast racing coverage.
Saturday September 14
2:14 p.m.—$125,000 Grade 3 Bold Venture Stakes at Woodbine on TVG
Over a 26-race career that has yielded 21 wins and the Sovereign Award as Canada’s Horse of the Year in 2017, 7-year-old Pink Lloyd has established himself as a world-class champion and fan favorite. On Saturday, the Old Forester gelding will be looking for a measure of revenge in the Bold Venture Stakes going 6 ½ furlongs after finishing fifth to Yorkton in the 2018 edition of the race. The field also includes Curlin’s Honor, who has a 3-3-3 record from 13 starts. Trained by Canadian Hall of Famer Mark Casse, The 4-year-old son of Curlin won last year’s Woodstock Stakes at Woodbine.
4:21 p.m.—$200,000 Grade 3 Locust Grove Stakes at Churchill Downs on TVG
Sather Family’s seven-time winning filly Mylady Curlin will attempt to collect her fourth-straight stakes victory as she takes on eight fillies and mares in Saturday’s 36th running of Locust Grove going 1 1/16-miles. Trained by Brad Cox, Mylady Curlin enters the Locust Grove following her victory in the $200,000 Lady Jacqueline Stakes by a nose. Previously, the well-traveled 4-year-old won the $100,000 Mari Hulman George Memorial Stakes at Indiana Grand and Grade 3 Allaire DuPont Distaff Stakes at Pimlico.
4:30 p.m.—$250,000 Grade 2 Canadian Stakes at Woodbine on TVG
Starship Jubilee ran perhaps the best race of her career in the 2018 running of the Canadian Stakes, springing an 11-1 upset as the second longest shot in a field of six which included a pair of favored Chad Brown shippers. On Saturday, Starship Jubilee will have to be equally sharp to defend her title in the 1 1/8-mile turf race for fillies and mares. The six-year-old daughter of Indy Wind was claimed for $16,000 on trainer Kevin Attard’s behalf by his father and fellow trainer, Tino Attard, at Gulfstream in February of 2017. The Florida-bred mare has gone on to win five stakes races including three Grade 2 contests.
4:53 p.m.—$200,000 Grade 2 Pocahontas Stakes at Churchill Downs on FS2 and TVG
LNJ Foxwoods’ 12 ½-length Ellis Park maiden winner Portrait tops a field of nine 2-year-old fillies entered in Saturday’s 51st running of the Pocahontas. The 1 1/16-mile race opens the “Road to the Kentucky Oaks” points system that will determine the field of 14 for America’s premier race for 3-year-old fillies next spring. The Pocahontas offers Kentucky Oaks points on a scale of 10-4-2-1 to its top four finishers. The Pocahontas also is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. Trained by Brad Cox, Portrait debuted on the turf at Ellis Park where she finished third as the 8-5 post-time favorite. In her second-career start, Portrait dominated a field of seven 2-year-old fillies at seven furlongs on dirt to win convincingly under jockey Shaun Bridgmohan.
5:26 p.m.—$200,000 Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs on FS2 and TVG
The “Road to the Kentucky Derby” officially begins Saturday as 10 promising 2-year-olds, led by Albaugh Family Stables’ 19 ¼-length maiden Dennis’ Moment, were entered in the 38th running of the 1 1/16-miles Iroquois Stakes. The Iroquois is the first scoring race on the 2019-20 series of 35 races that will ultimately determine the field for the 146th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 2, 2020. The Iroquois also is part of the Breeders’ Cup “Win & You’re In” program with the winner receiving an automatic berth into the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on November 1 at Santa Anita. Dennis’ Moment the likely odds-on favorite in the Iroquois, dominated a field of 12 on July 27 at Ellis Park. The colt by Tiznow has recorded three-straight five-furlong bullet workouts leading into Saturday’s Iroquois.
5:42 p.m.—$1,000,000 Grade 1 Woodbine Mile Stakes at Woodbine on FS2 and TVG
Got Stormy, coming off an impressive win over males in the Grade 1 Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga, will be looking to replicate that feat when she goes to post as the one to beat in Saturday’s Woodbine Mile, a Breeders’ Cup ‘Win and You’re In’ race for the Breeders’ Cup Mile. The four-year-old Got Stormy, owned by Gary Barber and Southern Equine Stable, was taking a sharp step upward in the one-mile Fourstardave and doubling up on the Saratoga turf course after capturing the restricted De La Rose Stakes a week earlier. Her trainer, Mark Casse, will be looking for his third win in the Woodbine Mile after scoring back-to-back with the supermare Tepin in 2016 and eventual divisional champion World Approval the following year.
6:17 p.m.—$300,000 Grade 1 Northern Dancer Turf Stakes at Woodbine on TVG
Old Persian (GB), who impressed in taking the Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic in March, brings his sizable turf talents to Woodbine for Saturday’s Northern Dancer Turf Stakes. Owned by Godolphin and trained by Charlie Appleby, Old Persian, a 4-year-old son of Dubawi (IRE), boasts a record of 8-1-2 from 15 starts, along with more than $4 million in purse earnings. The bay colt was at the top of his game in Dubai earlier this year, winning a pair of 1 ½-mile turf events, the aforementioned Dubai Sheema Classic on March 30, and the Group 2 Dubai City of Gold three weeks earlier.
Sunday September 15
4:43 p.m.—$250,000 Grade 1 Summer Stakes at Woodbine on FS2 and TVG
Following two outstanding efforts to launch his career, Ontario-bred Keep On Truckin faces his stiffest challenge to date when he goes postward in Sunday’s Summer Stakes, a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event for the one-mile Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. After a July 7 debut in a five-furlong race at Woodbine that resulted in an 11 3/4-length win, Keep On Truckin, who was a $110,000 purchase from the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society Yearling Sale, stepped up to the stakes ranks. On August 3, the Catherine Day Phillips trainee wowed the crowd and his connections again, this time in the Clarendon Stakes. At the wire, Keep On Truckin was 7 3/4-lengths ahead of his nearest rival in the 5 1/2-furlong main track sprint.
5:49 p.m.—$250,000 Grade 1 Natalma Stakes at Woodbine on FS2 and TVG
Fair Maiden was very impressive when romping by 7 1/2 lengths in the Catch a Glimpse Stakes over 6 1/2 furlongs of yielding turf at Woodbine on August 17. On Sunday, the Godolphin homebred will be returning from her Chicago base seeking to extend her win streak to three in the Natalma Stakes over one mile. The Natalma is part of the Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” series with the winner receiving a fees-paid berth in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. Fair Maiden, conditioned by Eoin Harty, had started twice on Arlington Park’s Polytrack surface prior to the Catch a Glimpse, finishing second in her 4 1/2-furlong opener and then exploding for a double-digit maiden score at five furlongs.