LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 20, 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.
Several tracks continue to try and navigate the coronavirus pandemic by holding cards without spectators and only allowing essential personnel on the grounds. Fair Grounds is among those scheduled to move forward this weekend by hosting its signature Kentucky Derby prep race, the Grade 2, $1 million Louisiana Derby. The Louisiana Derby is one of four graded stakes slated for Saturday at the New Orleans track and offers 100 qualifying points to the winner toward the Kentucky Derby – which has been postponed until September 5.
On Wednesday, it was announced that NBC Sports will partner with TVG to bring more horse racing to more fans beginning this weekend as NBCSN simulcasts TVG’s Trackside Live on March 21 and March 22 from 4-8 p.m. ET. The Louisiana Derby will be part of the Trackside Live coverage and coverage of the race will be streamed live on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.
NBCSN will also simulcast Trackside Live the following weekend – Friday, March 27 through Sunday, March 29 from 4-8 p.m. ET on all three days, including the Florida Derby on NBCSN on March 28 at 6 p.m. ET – if racing continues to be held.
Live racing will also be featured during an extended afternoon bloc Friday, Saturday, and Sunday on the “America’s Day at the Races” show presented by America’s Best Racing. The show, produced by NYRA, will air from 1:30 p.m.-3 p.m. on FS2 and from 3 p.m.-6:30 p.m. ET on FS1 Friday and 1:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m. ET on FS1 Saturday and Sunday, hosted by Greg Wolf.
Saturday March 21
4:10 p.m.—$400,000 Grade 2 New Orleans Classic at Fair Grounds on NBCSN and TVG
One year ago, By My Standards crossed the wire first in the Louisiana Derby en route to his Kentucky Derby appearance. On Saturday, the now 4-year-old will headline a field of nine older horses in the New Orleans Classic, to be run over 1 1/8-miles. Following his off-the-board finish in the 2019 Kentucky Derby, By My Standards was given time off and was not seen for the remainder of his 3-year-old year. Making his return to the races in an allowance race at Fair Grounds on February 9, By My Standards sat just off the early pace setters before taking command at the top of the stretch and drawing away impressively to win by six lengths.
4:42 p.m.—$300,000 Grade 2 Muniz Memorial Classic Stakes at Fair Grounds on NBCSN and TVG
So often Synchrony has enjoyed his best days while residing in the Big Easy and the Pin Oak homebred will try and keep his streak of high-level consistency going this weekend when he breaks from post 12 in the field of 13 entered for the $300,000 Muniz Memorial Classic Stakes. This weekend will mark Synchrony’s third straight appearance in the Muniz having won the race in 2018 and finished third to eventual 2019 Horse of Year Bricks and Mortar in last year’s edition. The chestnut horse has never been worse than third in six tries over the Fair Grounds turf course and was mostly recently second to fellow Muniz entrant Factor This in the 1 1/8-miles, Grade 3 Fair Grounds Stakes on February 15.
5:15 p.m.— $400,000 Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks at Fair Grounds on NBCSN and TVG
Heading into the Fair Grounds Oaks, Finite will carry with her the weighty expectations that come with being her division’s pro tem leader. It is a reputation she earned when she handily defeated champion British Idiom in the Rachel Alexandra Stakes on February 15 and it is one she can put an emphatic stamp on should she run up her to ability once more against five rivals in the third and local prep for the Kentucky Oaks, which has been postponed to September 4. Never worse than second in her career, Finite left zero doubt her form was moving forward when she stalked the pace en route to capturing the Rachel Alexandra by 4 ¾ lengths, handing Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner British Idiom her first career defeat in the process.
5:33 p.m.— $100,000 Grade 3 San Simeon Stakes at Santa Anita Park on TVG
A pair of top class sprinters, John Sadler’s Grade 1-winning Cistron and Wesley Ward’s Kentucky-based Bound for Nowhere, come off extended layoffs as they head a field of seven older horses in the San Simeon at 5 ½ furlongs on turf. An impressive winner of the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Stakes going six furlongs on dirt July 27 at Del Mar, 6-year-old Cistron, who was a close second in last year’s San Simeon, looms the horse to beat in what will be his 28th career start. The leading money earner in the field, Bound for Nowhere, idle since demolishing a tough allowance field at seven furlongs on turf in October at Belmont Park, has been supplemented to Saturday’s race by owner/trainer Wesley Ward and will be ridden by Julio Garcia.
5:49 p.m.—$1,000,000 Grade 2 Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds on NBCSN and TVG
John Oxley’s Enforceable, most recently second behind the recently sidelined Mr. Monomoy in the first division of the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes, was tabbed the 7-2 lukewarm morning-line favorite over 13 fellow 3-year-olds for Saturday’s Louisiana Derby. Previously run over nine furlongs on dirt, the distance of Louisiana Derby will be run at 1 3/16ths miles for the first time on Saturday. Following a third in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland in October, Enforceable finished fourth over a sloppy track in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes in November. Sent to post as the 6-1 fifth choice in Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes, the gray son of Tapit sat behind an honest pace before closing late to win by 1 ½ lengths.
6:35 p.m.— $100,000 Grade 3 San Luis Rey Stakes at Santa Anita Park on TVG
Recent graded stakes winning Oscar Dominguez (IRE), a 7-year-old gelding, heads a field of seven older horses in Saturday’s San Luis Rey Stakes. Trained by Richard Baltas, who heads the Winter Meet standings with 21 victories, Oscar Dominguez will be ridden for the first time by Italian-born Umberto Rispoli, who is now represented by highly respected veteran agent Scotty McClellan.