LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 14, 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.
A loaded “Downs After Dark” card is on tap at Churchill Downs this Saturday featuring total purses on the evening at more than $1.8 million. Sunday’s Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth is not graded but figures to be among the most watched races this weekend as Grade 1 winner Maximum Security, who crossed the wire first in the Kentucky Derby before being disqualified due to interference, is set to return in the $150,000 test.
HRRN will offer coverage live from Churchill Downs with Stephen Foster coverage hosted by Tom Leach and Jude Feld from 8-10 p.m. on June 15 on Sirius/XM 156 and streamed live on Horseracingradio.net.
The Fleur de Lis Handicap and Stephen Foster Stakes will be televised on NBCSN from 8:30-10 p.m. ET as part of NBC Sports’ “Win and You’re In” schedule.
Saturday June 15
8:03 p.m.—$150,000 Grade 3 Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs on TVG
Allied Racing Stables’ Pat Day Mile winner Mr. Money tops Saturday’s $150,000 Matt Winn for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles at Churchill Downs. Trained by Bret Calhoun, Mr. Money stormed home to a 5 ¼-length score in the Pat Day Mile at odds of 7-1. The son of Goldencents was Calhoun’s “original Kentucky Derby horse” but found success cutting back in distance following a fifth-place effort in the Louisiana Derby.
8:37 p.m.—$250,000 Grade 2 Wise Dan Stakes at Churchill Downs on TVG
Red Barron’s Barn multiple graded stakes-winning Itsinthepost (FR) is set to take on 13 rivals including Amerman Racing Stables Dixie Stakes runner-up Admission Office, Marc Detampel’s Opening Verse winner Siem Riep and Bourbon Lane Stables’ Ben Ali winner Bourbon Resolution in Saturday’s 30th running of the Wise Dan at 1 1/16 miles. Itsinthepost, who has been on a layoff since August, is slated to return to action in the Wise Dan for trainer Jeff Mullins. The 7-year-old gelded son of American Post (GB) won a quartet of Grade 2 races at Santa Anita in 2018 in the San Gabriel, San Marcos, San Luis Rey, and Charles Whittingham Stakes.
9:12 p.m.—$250,000 Grade 2 Fleur de Lis Handicap at Churchill Downs on NBCSN and TVG
She’s a Julie, winner of the Grade 1 La Troienne Stakes at Churchill Downs on May 3, will clash with fellow top-level winner Elate in the Fleur de Lis, a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” race for the $2 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff. She’s a Julie, trained by Hall of Fame conditioner Steve Asmussen, has only one off-the-board finish in her last eight starts – a fourth-place effort in the Zia Park Oaks in November. Chief among the competition to She’s a Julie will be Elate, who most recently finished third in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap.
9:47 p.m.—$600,000 Grade 2 Stephen Foster Stakes at Churchill Downs on NBCSN and TVG
Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap winner Gift Box will invade from the West Coast to take on 2017 Grade 1 Clark Handicap hero Seeking the Soul and multiple Grade I-winner Yoshida (JPN) in Saturday night’s 38th running of the $600,000 Stephen Foster – the centerpiece of a prime-time program at Churchill Downs. Gift Box, who won the $600,000 Santa Anita Handicap by a nose over McKinzie on April 6, arrived at Churchill Downs on Tuesday for trainer John Sadler to begin preparing for Saturday’s Stephen Foster. The 6-year-old son of Tapit was transferred to Sadler’s care in mid-2018 from trainer Chad Brown. Since Sadler began training Gift Box, he’s reeled off a half-length score in the Grade 2 San Antonio on Dec. 26 and, most recently, finished second to Vino Rosso in the $500,000 Grade 1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita on May 27.
10:19 p.m.—$150,000 Grade 3 Regret Stakes at Churchill Downs on TVG
Winter Sunset will try for her first graded stakes score in Saturday’s Regret Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on the Matt Winn Turf Course. Winter Sunset, a gray daughter of Tapit, recently finished third behind Concrete Rose and Newspaperofrecord (IRE) in the Grade 3 Edgewood Stakes on Kentucky Oaks day. Trained by Wayne Catalano, Winter Sunset is out of the seven-time graded-stakes winning mare Winter Memories.
Sunday June 16
4:55 p.m.—$125,000 Grade 3 Trillium Stakes at Woodbine on TVG
Stakes champion Bear Paw, a four-year-old daughter of Bear’s Kid, goes after her first graded score in Sunday’s Trillium Stakes. Trained by Ashlee Brnjas, the ultra-consistent Ontario-bred heads into the 1 1/16-mile Tapeta event off a pair of impressive starts at the Toronto oval, including a win in her most recent test on May 26.
5 p.m.—$150,000 Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth Park on TVG
Maximum Security, first across the finish line in the Kentucky Derby on May 4, will make his return to racing in Sunday’s Pegasus Stakes for 3-year-olds at a mile and a sixteenth the last local prep race for the $1 million Haskell Invitational on July 20. Owned by Gary and Mary West, Maximum Security has hit the wire first in all five of his lifetime starts. He became the first Kentucky Derby winner to be disqualified after his 1¾-length victory over Country House, with the Churchill Downs stewards placing him 17th for interference.
5:18 p.m.—$300,000 Grade 3 Poker Stakes at Belmont Park on TVG
Sullimar Stable’s Clyde’s Image, who has never finished worse than fourth in nine career starts, will seek his first stakes victory in Sunday’s Poker Stakes over the Widener turf course. The 5-year-old gelded son of Get Stormy enters the one-mile event for off of two Grade 1 placings at big prices. He was a close runner-up in the Grade 1 Makers 46 Mile at Keeneland behind Delta Prince and most recently was third in the Grade 1 Old Forester Turf Classic at Churchill Downs won by multiple Grade 1 winner Bricks and Mortar.
7:30 p.m.—$100,000 Grade 3 Affirmed Stakes at Santa Anita Park on TVG
Bob Baffert holds a powerful three-card hand as Grade 1-winner Roadster is joined by stablemates Mucho Gusto and Kingly to loom large in a field of six sophomores in Sunday’s Affirmed Stakes. A half-length winner of the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby on April 6, Roadster was never a factor over a sloppy track at Churchill Downs, finishing 16th in the Kentucky Derby on May 4. Sidelined due to an entrapped epiglottis following a third-place finish as the favorite in the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity last September 3, Roadster came back running three starts back for Baffert on March 1, as he tried two turns for the first time in a 2 ½ length allowance win at a one mile.