LEXINGTON, Ky. (February 28, 2020) – 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.
Gulfstream Park has the graded stakes market corned in North America on Saturday as the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth will headline a program with 10 stakes, nine graded, worth $1.95 million. Dennis’ Moment, the beaten favorite in last November’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, is set to make his seasonal bow in the 1 1/16-miles test, which offers 50 qualifying points to the winner toward the Kentucky Derby.
The inaugural running of the $20 million Saudi Cup also takes place on Saturday and features champions Maximum Security and Midnight Bisou making their seasonal debuts against the likes of Mucho Gusto, the current No. 1-ranked horse on the NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll.
Live coverage of The Saudi Cup airs Saturday at noon on FS1. FOX Sports is the exclusive broadcast provider of The Saudi Cup in the United States, where the telecast will air from noon-1 p.m. ET. Hosted by Nick Luck and Michelle Yu, the international broadcast will originate from King Abdulaziz Racetrack and include analysts Emma Spencer and Tom Stanley. Scheduled post time for the Saudi Cup is 12:40 p.m. ET and wagering is available in the United States via NYRA Bets.
Saturday February 29
12:40 p.m.—$20 million Saudi Cup at Riyadh on FS1
Midnight Bisou, the champion older dirt female of 2019, takes on males rivals for the first time in her career when she starts in the first edition of The Saudi Cup, contested at about 1 1/8 miles around one turn. Midnight Bisou will be one of two Eclipse Award champions in the field as Maximum Security, the reigning champion 3-year-old male, is also slated to make his first start of 2020 in the race. Other leading American-based contenders include Mucho Gusto, winner of the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes on January 25, multiple Grade 1 winner McKinzie, and graded stakes winner Tacitus.
12:57 p.m.—$150,000 Grade 3 Palm Beach Stakes at Gulfstream Park on TVG
Vitalogy, scratched from a planned start in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf last fall, is set to make his eagerly awaited seasonal debut in Saturday’s Palm Beach Stakes. Vitalogy drew outside Post 12 under Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano in the Palm Beach, which kicks off Saturday’s graded-stakes action. The Breeders’ Cup would have been the second start with trainer Brendan Walsh for Vitalogy following a runner-up finish in the Grade 3 Bourbon Stakes. Breaking from the 14 post, Vitalogy trailed all horses for a half-mile before launching a furious comeback that came up a neck short that day.
1:27 p.m.—$150,000 Grade 3 Honey Fox Stakes at Gulfstream Park on TVG
Epic Racing’s Valedictorian, a two-time Grade 3 winner of more than $700,000 in lifetime purses, will need to rely on class breaking from outside of each of her 10 rivals as she launches her comeback in Saturday’s Honey Fox Stakes. Valedictorian, now 6, has not raced since finishing third by 6 ¼ lengths after setting the pace in the one-mile Grade 3 Noble Damsel Stakes at Belmont Park. Though she has found success up and down the East Coast, the Temple City mare has shown an affinity for Gulfstream with four wins, two seconds and two thirds in 11 tries.
2:27 p.m.—$150,000 Grade 3 The Very One Stakes at Gulfstream Park on TVG
Queen of Time (GB), making her 27th career start but first in the United States, joins stakes winners Empressof the Nile and Touriga giving trainer Graham Motion a strong hand to play in The Very One. Alex Frost’s Queen of Time, Group 3-placed in France as a 4-year-old, joined Motion’s string last fall in Maryland and has been working steadily at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County, for her stateside debut. The 6-year-old distance specialist mare last raced September 28 at Newmarket.
3:28 p.m.—$150,000 Grade 3 Herecomesthebride Stakes at Gulfstream Park on TVG
Abscond, winner of the Grade 1 Natalma Stakes at Woodbine last September, makes her second start this year against 11 rivals in the 1 1/16-miles Herecomesthebride Stakes. Trained by Eddie Kenneally, Abscond finished seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf and opened her sophomore campaign with a third-place run in Ginger Brew Stakes after stumbling at the start.
3:59 p.m.—$200,000 Grade 2 Davona Dale Stakes at Gulfstream Park on TVG
If a horsemen’s dream is to have a promising 3-year-old colt and 3-year-old filly in his barn as winter turns to spring, then trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. is living the dream. Not only is Joseph set to saddle the stakes-winning Chance It in the $400,000 Fountain of Youth Saturday, but earlier in the day he will also send out the undefeated 3-year-old filly Tonalist’s Shape in the $200,000 Davona Dale Stakes. Tonalist’s Shape won her racing debut at Gulfstream September 28, the same day Chance It won the $400,000 In Reality Division of the Florida Sire Stakes. After winning an allowance optional claiming race at Gulfstream Park West, Tonalist’s Shape won the $75,000 Hut Hut November 30 at Gulfstream Park by nine lengths and made her 3-year-old debut a winning one with a victory in the Grade 3 Forward Gal.
4:30 p.m.—$150,000 Grade 3 Canadian Turf Stakes at Gulfstream Park on TVG
Glen Hill Farm’s multiple graded-stakes winning homebred Caribou Club, a disappointing sixth in his seasonal debut three weeks ago, attempts to rebound against an overflow field of 14 in Saturday’s Canadian Turf. Caribou Club will be making his 24th career start and first at Gulfstream in the Canadian Turf. The 6-year-old City Zip gelding had never run in his home state of Florida until February 8, when he tracked the leaders but never threatened finishing seventh under jockey Jose Ortiz in the 1 1/16-mile Grade 3 Tampa Bay Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.
5:01 p.m.—$300,000 Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Mile Stakes at Gulfstream Park on TVG
Jim Bakke and Gerry Isbister’s Mr Freeze, runner-up to Mucho Gusto in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational on January 25, will try to stop his rivals in their tracks and roll to victory the Gulfstream Park Mile. Mr Freeze won the Grade 3 Ack Ack at Churchill Downs in September before finishing second in the Grade 2 Fayette Stakes at Keeneland and third in the Grade 1 Clark Stakes at Churchill. The 5-year-old son of To Honor and Serve set the pace into the stretch in the 1 1/8-mile Pegasus World Cup before being overtaken by Mucho Gusto.
5:32 p.m.—$200,000 Grade 2 Mac Diarmida Stakes at Gulfstream Park on TVG
Michael Hui’s Zulu Alpha, a former claimer who won the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf, returns to the races Saturday when he faces a competitive group of nine other older horses in the $200,000 Mac Diarmida. Zulu Alpha’s competition will include Grade 1 winners Sadler’s Joy and Channel Maker, A Thread of Blue, Armistice Day, Nessy, Spooky Channel and Admission Office. Zulu Alpha, a 7-year-old son of Street Cry, was claimed in September of 2018 for $80,000. The gelding won the Grade 3 McKnight and Mac Diarmida during Gulfstream’s 2018-2019 Championship Meet, and was second in the Grade 1 United Nations and fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf last summer and fall.
6:04 p.m.—$400,000 Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park on TVG
Trainer Dale Romans is hoping Dennis’ Moment will have the chance to strut his stuff in Saturday’s Fountain of Youth Stakes and establish himself as a leading prospect for the $1 million, Grade 1 Florida Derby March 28, as well as the 2020 Triple Crown. Dennis’ Moment hasn’t run since finishing off the board in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita November 1, when he lost all chance while stumbling badly and going to his knees at the start. The Kentucky-bred colt was the recipient of bad luck in his debut at Churchill Downs in June when he lost his rider after clipping heels shortly after the start. He broke his maiden in spectacular fashion in his second career start July 27 at Ellis Park, scoring a 19 ¼-length triumph after running seven furlongs in 1:21.95, and came right back to win the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs by 1 ¾ lengths in his first start around two turns.