LEXINGTON, Ky. (August 23, 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 wide-open field of 12 is set to go to post in the 150th running of the Travers Stakes, the headliner on Saturday’s Saratoga Race Course card featuring seven stakes races, including six Grade 1’s.
Saturday’s Travers Stakes will be televised live on FOX from 5-6 p.m. ET. Undercard coverage will also be televised on a special Travers Day edition of Saratoga Live, airing nationally on FS2 from 11:30-5 p.m. ET. In addition to the broadcasts on FS2, all Saratoga races will air on TVG as part of their coast-to-coast racing coverage.
HRRN will be on-site at the “Spa” every Saturday throughout the 2019 season to provide exclusive radio coverage of the meet’s premier stakes races. This weekend’s broadcast will feature coverage of the Travers card from 3-6 p.m. on Sirius/XM 156 and streaming live on horseracingradio.net.
Saturday August 24
1:48 p.m.—$600,000 Grade 1 Forego Stakes at Saratoga Race Course on FS2 and TVG
Looking to make amends after finishing third as the heavy favorite in the Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt, Bill and Corrine Heiligbrodt’s Mitole will attempt to add a third Grade 1 win to his resume in Saturday’s seven-furlong Forego Stakes. Mitole captured the Metropolitan Handicap over subsequent Grade 1 Whitney winner McKinzie. Prior to running third in the Vanderbilt, the 4-year-old chestnut had won seven straight races, six of which resulted in triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures.
2:23 p.m.—$500,000 Grade 1 Ballerina Stakes at Saratoga Race Course on FS2 and TVG
Klaravich Stables’ two-time Grade 1 winner Separationofpowers will look to add a third prestigious race to that list, staying at the same seven-furlong distance in which she won last out as part of an accomplished seven-horse field of fillies and mares 3-year-olds and up in the Ballerina. Seperationofpowers has thrived at Saratoga, winning her debut at the historic track in July 2017 as a juvenile before running third in the Grade 1 Spinaway the same year in September. The Candy Ride filly ran third in the Grade 3 Vagrancy at 6 ½ furlongs on May 11 at Belmont before wiring the field in the Grade 3 Bed o’ Roses on June 7 on Big Sandy.
2:59 p.m.—$500,000 Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens Stakes at Saratoga Race Course on FS2 and TVG
Shancelot, dominant winner of the Grade 2 Amsterdam Stakes in his most recent outing, returns to Saratoga Race Course to head a field of nine entered in the H. Allen Jerkens, a seven-furlong race for 3-year-olds. In the 6 ½-furlong Amsterdam on July 28, Shancelot went straight to the lead and extended his advantage at every call, running clear to a 12 ½-length victory under jockey Emisael Jaramillo’s drive. He earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 121 for the effort, the top figure in North America so far in 2019.
3:35 p.m.—$400,000 Grade 2 Ballston Spa Stakes at Saratoga Race Course on FS2 and TVG
Saratoga’s leading trainer, Chad Brown, who has won four of the past seven editions of the Ballston Spa, has entered three: European import Mascha, multiple graded stakes winner Significant Form, and Fifty Five, whom he scratched from Friday’s Yaddo to run on Saturday. Mascha went from last to first in her stateside and 4-year-old debut, a 1 1/16-mile allowance on July 31. In four starts last year in Europe, she won the Kronimus Diana-Trial at Baden Baden and finished second in the Group 3 Prix de Psyche at Deauville.
4:12 p.m.—$700,000 Grade 1 Personal Ensign Stakes at Saratoga Race Course on FS2 and TVG
Bloom Racing Stable, Madaket Stables and Allen Racing’s Midnight Bisou, undefeated in five starts this season, looks to keep her perfect record intact while seeking her first career victory at Saratoga Race Course in Saturday’s Personal Ensign. Never worse than third, with $2.87 million in purse earnings from 16 lifetime starts, all 10 of Midnight Bisou’s wins have come in graded stakes. Four of those victories were at Grade 1 caliber, including the Apple Blossom April 19 at Oaklawn Park and the Ogden Phipps June 8 at Belmont Park in back-to-back outings. Most recently, she was a one-length winner of the Grade 3 Molly Pitcher July 20 at Monmouth Park.
4:49 p.m.— $850,000 Grade 1 Sword Dancer Stakes at Saratoga Race Course on FS2 and TVG
Entering off an impressive optional claiming allowance win on July 24, Klaravich Stables’ and William Lawrence’s Annals of Time will make his first graded-stakes start since winning the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby in 2016 as a 3-year-old in the Sword Dancer going 1 ½ miles on the inner turf course. Sidelined for nine months following that win due to a soft tissue injury, he has only raced three times since, winning a second-level allowance race as a 4-year-old at Belmont Park followed by a runner-up third level allowance finish before subsequently winning last out by 4 ½ lengths at the Spa.
5:28 p.m.—$175,000 Grade 2 Play the King Stakes at Woodbine on TVG
Stronach Stables’ homebred Silent Poet goes for his first graded crown in the Play the King Stakes. Trained by Nicholas Gonzalez, Silent Poet, a four-year-old son of Silent Name, heads into the seven-furlong turf feature in winning form. The dark bay was sharp in his 2019 debut on July 21, notching a half-length score over El Tormenta – who will also contest the Play the King – in a six-and-a-half furlong event over the E.P. Taylor Turf Course.
5:44 p.m.— $1,250,000 Grade 1 Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race Course on FOX
R. A. Hill Stable, Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Hugh Lynch and Corms Racing Stable’s former claimer Tax and Juddmonte Farms’ regally bred Tacitus, the one-two finishers of the Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes, renew their rivalry in the 150th running of the Travers. The familiar foes – the 5-2 favorite Tacitus and the 6-1 Tax – will be meeting for the fifth time this year, headlining a group of 12 sophomores entered for the 1 ¼-miles race, including multiple graded-stakes winners Code of Honor, Mucho Gusto and Owendale and a pair of formidable contenders from Saratoga leading trainer Chad Brown in Highest Honors and Looking At Bikinis.
9 p.m.— $200,000 Grade 2 Pat O’Brien Stakes at Del Mar on TVG
Catalina Cruiser will attempt to duplicate his feat of a year ago when he won both San Diego Handicap and Pat O’Brien Stakes when he packs highweight of 121 pounds versus six rivals in the 2019 renewal of the Pat O’Brien at seven furlongs. Catalina Cruiser, beaten only once in seven career starts, will have Del Mar’s leading rider, Flavien Prat, in the saddle for the first time.
Sunday August 25
4:57 p.m.—$125,000 Grade 3 Seaway Stakes at Woodbine on TVG
Anne and William Scott’s Summer Sunday goes in search of her fourth straight added-money score in Sunday’s Seaway Stakes. A four-year-old Ontario-bred daughter of Silent Name, Summer Sunday rolls into the seven-furlong feature on the second three-race win streak of her career. The Stuart Simon trainee kick-started her natural hat trick with a victory in the Ballade Stakes on May 11, and followed it up with a pair of graded triumphs, the Grade 3 Hendrie on June 9, and most recently, the Grade 2 Royal North on July 21