LEXINGTON, Ky. (September 20, 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.
The sophomore division is back in the forefront this weekend with both the Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby for 3-year-olds and Grade 1 Cotillion Stakes for 3-year-old fillies highlighting Saturday’s card at Parx. The Pennsylvania Derby anchors a one-hour broadcast by NBC Sports, airing nationally on NBC from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. NBC Sports will also show the Cotillion Stakes during the broadcast. 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.
NYRA’s “America’s Day at the Races” presented by America’s Best Racing, Runhappy, and Claiborne Farm continues its television coverage of Belmont Park races during the upcoming week and will also show select races from Churchill Downs. And Saturday races at those two tracks plus full coverage of racing at Parx, including the Pennsylvania Derby and Cotillion Stakes, will be available on TVG as part of their coverage.
HRRN will be on-site at Charles Town this weekend with Saturday’s broadcast featuring coverage of the Charles Town Oaks from 9:30-10:30 p.m. on Sirius/XM 156 and streaming live on horseracingradio.net.
Saturday September 21
3:30 p.m.—$200,000 Grade 3 Baltimore/Washington International Turf Cup Stakes at Laurel Park on TVG
Grade 1 winner Glorious Empire (IRE) is scheduled to make a highly anticipated return to action in Saturday’s Baltimore/Washington International Turf Cup, one of eight stakes worth $1.3 million on the September to Remember card that will be headlined by the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash. The 8-year-old Glorious Empire had been slated to run at Colonial Downs last month but came down with a virus that delayed his return until Saturday.
4 p.m.—$250,000 Grade 3 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel Park on TVG
WinStar Farm, China Horse Club and SF Racing’s graded stakes winner New York Central, freshened off a disappointing effort last time out, returns to Maryland with a chance to rediscover his winning form in the 28th running of the six-furlong De Francis Dash. Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen and jockey Feargal Lynch teamed up to win last year’s De Francis with Switzerland, and they unite again this year with New York Central. In his only previous visit to Maryland, the 4-year-old Tapit colt was a 1 ¾-length winner of the six-furlong Grade 3 Maryland Sprint on the Preakness Stakes undercard May 18 in a stakes-record 1:08.74. New York Central followed the Maryland Sprint finishing last of seven in the seven-furlong Grade 2 John A. Nerud on July 6 at Belmont Park, just the third time in 10 lifetime starts he ran worse than third.
4:34 p.m.—$300,000 Grade 2 Gallant Bob Stakes at Parx on TVG
Bulletin, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint last November, breaks from the outside post in the field of nine for the six-furlong Gallant Bob. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Bulletin won his first three career starts before suffering his first career loss when fourth in the William Walker Stakes. The son of City Zip was third last time out in the Better Talk Now Stakes at Saratoga Race Course on August 25.
4:51 p.m.—$200,000 Grade 3 Noble Damsel Stakes at Belmont Park on TVG
Set to make her first start since winning the Grade 2 Ballston Spa Stakes on August 24 at Saratoga Race Course, Stephanie Seymour Brant’s Significant Form will look to capture her third graded stakes this year headlining a field of six in the Noble Damsel on the inner turf going a mile. Trained by Chad Brown, the 4-year-old daughter of Creative Cause kicked off her 2019 campaign with a victory in the Grade 3 Intercontinental going seven furlongs on the Belmont turf in June. Significant Form then turned back in distance to 5 ½ furlongs for the Caress in July at Saratoga in which she ran fifth before stretching back out to win the 1 1/16-mile Ballston Spa.
5:14 p.m.—$1,000,000 Grade 1 Cotillion Stakes at Parx on NBC and TVG
Three Chimneys Farm’s Guarana aims to remain unbeaten in a Cotillion field loaded with top sophomore fillies. The Chad Brown-trainee defeated Kentucky Oaks heroine Serengeti Empress in the Grade 1 Acorn Stakes at Belmont on June 8 in what was just her second career start and returned to take the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks on July 21. Serengeti Empress was narrowly defeated in the Grade 1 Test Stakes on August 3 while trainer John Servis aims to spring the upset with juvenile filly champion Jaywalk.
5:26 p.m.—$125,000 Dogwood Stakes at Churchill Downs on TVG
LNJ Foxwoods’ Grade 1 winner Covfefe tops a compact field of six 3-year-old fillies in Saturday’s Dogwood Stakes as she preps for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. Trained by Brad Cox, Covfefe will make her first start since defeating Kentucky Oaks winner Serengeti Empress in the Grade 1 Test over seven furlongs at Saratoga on August 3. The strikingly fast 3-year-old sprinter has recorded back-to-back five-furlong bullet workouts as she blazes her path into the Dogwood.
5:48 p.m.—$1,000,000 Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby at Parx on NBC and TVG
The complexion of the race changed massively when it was announced that Grade 1 Haskell Invitational winner Maximum Security would miss the 1 1/8-miles test due to illness. The Pennsylvania Derby still boasts loads of quality, however, with Preakness Stakes winner War of Will set to face Grade 1 winner Improbable and multiple graded stakes winner Mr. Money. War of Will has struggled to find his best form since his classic triumph, finishing off the board in both the Belmont Stakes and Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes. Mr. Money by contrast has loads of buzz after winning his last four starts – all Grade 3 races – including a six-length romp in the West Virginia Derby on August 3.
5:57 p.m.—$300,000 Grade 2 Kelso Handicap at Belmont Park on TVG
Calumet Farm’s True Timber will attempt his first stakes victory when facing a wide-open field of seven assembled for the Kelso Handicap over the main track. True Timber enters the Kelso off of a six-month layoff having not raced since finishing ninth in the Group 2 Godolphin Mile on March 30 at Meydan Racecourse. Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, the 5-year-old bay son of Mineshaft has placed against graded stakes company four times, most recently when running second to last year’s Kelso winner Patternrecognition at 31-1 odds in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile.
10:15 p.m.—$300,000 Grade 3 Charles Town Oaks at Charles Town Races on TVG
A well-matched field of ten sophomore fillies are set to go to post in the seven-furlong Charles Town Oaks. Fashion Faux Pas is the lukewarm 7-2 choice on the morning line having most recently finished off the board in the Cathryn Sophia Stakes at Parx on September 2. The daughter of Flatter was previously second in the Grade 3 Delaware Oaks on July 6 and captured the Light Hearted Stakes by 14 ½ lengths on June 5.
Sunday September 22
2:04 p.m.—$300,000 Grade 2 Gallant Bloom Handicap at Belmont Park on TVG
Blue Devil Racing Stable’s multiple graded stakes winning homebred Come Dancing headlines a field of five in the Gallant Bloom for fillies and mares 4-years-old and up at 6 ½ furlongs. Kicking off her year with an impressive 7 ¾-length win in the Grade 3 Distaff Handicap at Aqueduct, the daughter of Malibu Moon went on to capture the Grade 2 Ruffian Stakes at Belmont by 6 ¾ lengths before finishing second to Midnight Bisou in the 1 1/16-mile Grade 1 Ogden Phipps. Come Dancing returned to sprinting in the Grade 1 Ballerina at Saratoga Race Course in her most recent start, where she impressively recovered from being bumped at the start to win by 3 ½ lengths.