LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 17, 2020) – Throughout the year, 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.
A handful of tracks continue to try and navigate the coronavirus pandemic by holding cards without spectators and only allowing essential personnel on the ground, including Oaklawn Park, which hosts the Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap this Saturday.
TVG will partner with NBC Sports to bring live horse racing into the homes of fans across the country for the fourth consecutive weekend with twelve hours of coverage, including the Apple Blossom and Grade 3 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap, from April 17 through April 19 from 4-8 p.m. ET all three days.
In addition to Oaklawn Park, TVG will also be showing racing from tracks throughout the country including Gulfstream Park and Tampa Bay Downs. It was announced on Wednesday that NBCSN and TVG will continue to partner each weekend through at least May 31.
Live racing coverage will also be featured on “America’s Day at the Races”, the NYRA-produced show which will air on FS1 from 1:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET Saturday. On Sunday, the show will air on FS2 from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. ET and then on FS1 from 2:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. ET. “America’s Day at the Races” is presented by Runhappy, Claiborne Farm and America’s Best Racing.
Saturday April 18
5:14 p.m.—$350,000 Grade 3 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap at Oaklawn Park on NBCSN
Grade 1-winner Whitmore will put his home-track advantage to the test this Saturday as he faces a top-level field in the Count Fleet Sprint Handicap going six furlongs. Trained by Ron Moquett, Whitmore has been the king of Oaklawn with eight of his 13 career victories coming over the oval including his most recent score in the March 7 Hot Springs Stakes. The 7-year-old Pleasantly Perfect gelding was second behind eventual champion Mitole in last year’s Count Fleet Sprint and prevailed in the race in both 2017 and 2018. Among those set to challenge Whitmore in the Count Fleet are fellow Grade 1-winner Hog Creek Hustle, Grade 2-winner Flagstaff, and Hidden Scroll.
6:16 p.m.—$600,000 Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park on NBCSN
A Breeders’ Cup-quality field of 14 distaffers have assembled for the 1 1/8-miles Apple Blossom, headed by last year’s Kentucky Oaks winner Serengeti Empress. Serengeti Empress got herself back in the win column in a big way last time out with a gate-to-wire victory in the Grade 2 Azeri Stakes on March 14. The 4-year-old Tom Amoss-trained filly will have her hands full trying to duplicate that effort as she faces the likes of Grade 1-winner Come Dancing, who will be making her first start since running sixth in the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, along with fellow top-level victors Ce Ce, Ollie’s Candy, and Street Band.