LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 29, 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 weekend sees the Grade 1 Florida Derby take center stage on the Road to the Kentucky Derby while Meydan Racecourse hosts a blockbuster Dubai World Cup card. NBC Sports will showcase the Florida Derby in a one-hour broadcast on NBCSN from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET on Saturday.
TVG will also broadcast the card at Gulfstream Park, and it offers comprehensive coverage of the entire Dubai Racing Carnival card on March 30. NBC Sports will provide online coverage of three races from Meydan – the Dubai World Cup, the Dubai Sheema Classic, and the Dubai Turf – on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.
Horse Racing Radio Network (HRRN) will broadcast live from Gulfstream Park. HRRN’s 2-hour broadcast begins at 5:00 p.m. ET and can be heard throughout North America on SiriusXM channel 93 with live streaming accessible on computers, tablets and mobile devices on the HRRN website, www.horseracingradio.net. The broadcast will also include coverage of the Pan American Stakes which precedes the Florida Derby.
Saturday March 30
8:15 a.m.—$1.5 million Group 2 Godolphin Mile at Meydan Racecourse on TVG
Perhaps the greatest threat to expected favorite Muntazah (GB) could be Todd Pletcher-trained Coal Front, a multiple graded stakes winner who will try to muddy the waters for the locals, but has to overcome the outside draw of 12 to make it an American victory.
8:50 a.m. – $1.5 million Group 2 Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan Racecourse on TVG
The Charlie Appleby-trained pair of Cross Counter (GB) and Ispolini (GB) are attracting all the attention in the Dubai Gold Cup. Cross Counter provided the Godolphin trainer with one of his most memorable victories last season when he won the Melbourne Cup. Trainer John Sadler will be represented in the race with graded stakes winner Platinum Warrior (IRE).
9:30 a.m.—$2 million Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan Racecourse on TVG
Stormy Liberal, the 2018 Eclipse Award winner for champion turf male, aims to avenge his defeat in this race one year ago but faces a stiff challenge from the likes of stablemate Belvoir Bay (GB), graded stakes winner Caribou Club, and Godolphin runner Blue Point (IRE).
10:05 a.m.—$2.5 million Group 2 UAE Derby at Meydan Racecourse on TVG
Divine Image is bidding to become only the second filly to lift the race that two years ago produced 2018 Dubai World Cup winner Thunder Snow (IRE). Trained by Charlie Appleby, the daughter of Scat Daddy has been victorious on her last two starts at Meydan and produced an impressive performance when she burst clear by 7 ¼ lengths, beating the boys in the Al Bastakiya three weeks ago.
10:40 a.m.—$2.5 million Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen at Meydan Racecourse on TVG
The Dubai Golden Shaheen is set to be a clash of titans, with a U.S. attack headlining the field. Imperial Hint has returned after making the initial trip two years ago, when he was unable to take his shot at the riches due to illness. X Y Jet plans to cause some turbulence, with the son of Kantharos lining up in the Dubai Golden Shaheen for a third time while Grade 1 winner Promises Fulfilled makes his 4-year-old seasonal bow on the world’s richest night.
11:20 a.m.—$6 million Group 1 Dubai Turf at Meydan Racecourse on TVG
There are few hotter properties in world racing right now than super filly Almond Eye (JPN), who has her first test outside her native Japan in a great renewal of Saturday’s Dubai Turf, featuring a truly international 13-strong field. Having won all three legs of the Filly Triple Crown and the Japan Cup (G1), it was little wonder that the daughter of Lord Kanaloa was named the Japan Racing Authority’s 2018 Horse of the Year.
12 p.m.—$6 million Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan Racecourse on TVG
The Aidan O’Brien-trained Magic Wand (IRE) comes in off a second-place finish to Bricks and Mortar in the $7 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1) on January 26 while Desert Encounter (IRE) won the Pattison Canadian International Stakes (G1) at Woodbine last October.
12:40 p.m.—$12 million Group 1 Dubai World Cup at Meydan Racecourse on TVG
Godolphin’s popular Thunder Snow is certainly the standard in the race as he bids to become the first two-time winner one year after becoming the first UAE Derby victor to pull off the double. Without a win since his tour-de-force last year, the Saeed bin Suroor trainee has accounted well for himself, including a second in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) and third in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).
Bookending Thunder Snow in second and fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic were Gunnevera and Yoshida, who bring ample class into a deep field. Gunnevera hopes to finally break through at the top level as he was last seen disappointing in sixth in the $9 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) on—a race in which fellow entrants, Seeking the Soul and Audible, finished second and fifth.
1:00 p.m.—$300,000 Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Mile at Gulfstream Park on TVG
Five weeks after an impressive victory in the Hal’s Hope (G3), Prince Lucky returns Saturday to Gulfstream for trainer Todd Pletcher and is expected to be the favorites in the Gulfstream Park Mile, one of seven stakes (four graded) on the Florida Derby Day program.
3 p.m.—$250,000 Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks at Gulfstream Park on TVG
Arindel’s multiple stakes-winning homebred Cookie Dough, overlooked making her first start in 22 weeks last month, figures to garner plenty of attention as she goes after her first career graded triumph over her home course in Saturday’s 1 1/16-miles Gulfstream Park Oaks. Based at Gulfstream with trainer Stanley Gold, Cookie Dough exits the one-mile Davona Dale Stakes (G2) Feb. 2 where she set a pressured pace as a 13-1 outsider in the field of seven and held it to the shadow of the wire before being caught by 51-1 long shot Jeltrin on the line.
6 p.m. — $250,000 Grade 2 Pan American Stakes at Gulfstream Park on TVG
Saturday’s Pan American, for 4-year-olds and up over a 1 ½-mile turf course, has attracted a strong group of nine older horses including Focus Group, Canessar, Village King, Bigger Picture and Soglio. Trainer Todd Pletcher, who saddled Hi Happy (ARG) to victory in last year’s Pan American, will send out Village King (ARG), a 5-year-old who won the Red Smith Stakes last Nov. 17 at Aqueduct.
6:17 p.m. — $400,000 Grade 1 Frank E. Kilroe Mile at Santa Anita Park on TVG
Although he was the beaten favorite in his most recent start, River Boyne (IRE), who has won six out of his seven career turf starts at Santa Anita, will vie for favoritism in Saturday’s Frank E. Kilroe Mile with Kentucky-bred Catapult, who should relish a return to firm ground for John Sadler. The Kilroe has attracted a field of six older horses.
6:36 p.m. — $1 million Grade 1 Xpressbet Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on NBCSN and TVG
W. S. Farish’s Code of Honor lived up to the expectations he generated during his 2-year-old campaign when the Shug McGaughey-trained colt rallied to win the $400,000 Xpressbet.com Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) on March 2. The 3-year-old son of Noble Mission is set for a return in Saturday’s Florida Derby, where the Kentucky-bred colt is scheduled to clash with 10 rivals in a quest to further enhance his standing among the leading 2019 Triple Crown prospects in the tradition-rich 1 1/8-mile event for 3-year-olds.
Juddmonte Farm’s Hidden Scroll was installed as the 5-2 morning-line favorite after drawing the No. 1 post position. Hidden Scroll, whose heated pace battle with longshot Gladiator King aided the stretch kicks of Code of Honor and Bourbon War, will make his third career start in the Florida Derby, which Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott hopes will not unfold like his Fountain of Youth trip.
6:58 p.m. — $200,000 Grade 2 San Carlos Stakes at Santa Anita Park on TVG
Jerry Hollendorfer’s Kanthaka and Bob Baffert’s Ax Man head-up a field of five older horses going seven furlongs in the $200,000 San Carlos Stakes. A romping 3 ¼ length winner of the Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes 13 months ago, Kanthaka was considered a Derby hopeful and would go on to win the Grade 3 Lazaro Barrera Stakes on May 12, after which he went to the sidelines prior to resurfacing with an eighth-place finish in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes on Dec. 26.
7:28 p.m.— $100,000 Grade 3 Santa Ana Stakes at Santa Anita Park on TVG
Multiple graded stakes winner Elysea’s World (IRE) headlines a field of eight entered in the 1 ¼-miles turf race.
8:28 p.m.— $400,000 Grade I Beholder Mile at Santa Anita Park on TVG
One-two finishers when last they met, Bob Baffert’s Marley’s Freedom and John Sadler’s Selcourt will each stretch out an eighth of a mile as they the Beholder Mile at Santa Anita, which has attracted an outstanding field of seven older fillies and mares. Dispatched as the 3-5 favorite in seven-furlong Santa Monica Stakes here Feb. 16, Marley’s Freedom overhauled Selcourt late to win by 1 ¼ lengths.
Sunday March 31
5:30 p.m.— $100,000 Grade 3 San Simeon Stakes at Santa Anita Park on TVG
Fresh off a rousing 4 ¼ length restricted stakes romp over the course, trainer Peter Miller’s Conquest Tsunami heads a field of seven older horses going 6 ½ furlongs down Santa Anita’s hillside turf.