There were a lot of decent Maiden Special Weight races scheduled for the lawn today at Saratoga... then it rained hard, almost everything was taken off the turf and a scratch epidemic took place. (By the way, I love when tracks have a lot of races on the turf course during a card but it's also a dangerous propositions because if a drop of rain falls, the races get moved and the scratches come rolling in. It's really a Catch-22.)
So, seeing that I am not going to focus on Saratoga much today I decided to dive into the upcoming stakes calendar with an eye towards the Breeders' Cup in early November. We are a little less than three months from the Breeders' Cup which means we are looking at one or two more starts for many of the top contenders, with possibly some horses getting three races under their belt in that time.
We are also heading into the final part of the European flat season and the run-up to the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and British Champions Day in October. Those event will likely include horses that will make the trip across the Atlantic (and the North American continent) for a shot at the Breeders' Cup turf events.
With that in mind, let's first take a look at the stakes calendar over the next three months, with an eye towards some of the key events in each of Breeders' Cup division and the international events.
Despite the fact that the Classic run at 10 furlongs, there are only four major stakes races prior to the Classic run at that distance. I almost think the term "Classic" distance is becoming a little outdated, or at least slightly deceiving since very few races are actually run at that distance during the season. Anyway, leading up to the Breeders' Cup there are four races at 10 furlongs: Travers (8/25), Pacific Classic (8/26), Jockey Club Gold Cup (9/29) and Hawthorne Gold Cup (10/6). After that, we're looking at an assortment of races at nine furlongs (which will contain a lot of Dirt Mile contenders, as well) and races still restricted to three-year-olds.
The Awesome Again is the new name for the old Goodwood at Oak Tree.
|1-Sep||AP||G3-Washington Park Hcp.||3up||9.0||Classic|
|29-Sep||BEL||G1-Jockey Club Gold Cup||3up||10.0||Classic|
|6-Oct||HAW||G2-Hawthorne Gold Cup||3up||10.0||Classic|
|6-Oct||HOO||G2-Indiana Derby||3yo||8.5||Classic (or Dirt Mile)|
DIVISION: Ladies' Classic
With the Ladies' Classic at Santa Anita this year, the Zenyatta (9/29) will be a key race in determining how top contenders will handle the generally fast track in Arcadia. The Alabama is a little bit of an anomally with it's 10 furlongs distance, a full furlong longer than the Ladies' Classic. The Beldame (9/29) is usually the key race for east coast contenders and should be again this year.
The Spinster at Keeneland will once again provide us with somewhat of a head scratcher; if a filly or mare with a history of turf/synthetic form wins that race, it could be a throw out. If a horse that's proven on dirt were to prevail, we might be able to put a lot more weight behind it.
|11-Aug||ELP||G3-Gardenia||3up, f&m||8.0||Ladies' Classic|
|11-Aug||MTH||G3-Monmouth Oaks||3yo, f||8.5||Ladies' Classic|
|18-Aug||SAR||G1-Alabama||3yo, f||10.0||Ladies' Classic|
|26-Aug||SAR||G1-Personal Ensign||3up, f&m||9.0||Ladies' Classic|
|22-Sep||PRX||G1-Cotillion||3yo, f||8.5||Ladies' Classic|
|29-Sep||BEL||G1-Beldame||3up, f&m||9.0||Ladies' Classic|
|29-Sep||SA||G1-Zenyatta||3up, f&m||8.5||Ladies' Classic|
|6-Oct||HOO||G2-Indiana Oaks||3yo, f||8.5||Ladies' Classic|
|7-Oct||KEE||G1-Spinster||3up, f&m||9.0||Ladies' Classic|
|27-Oct||BEL||G3-Turnback the Alarm||3up, f&m||8.5||Ladies' Classic|
The addition of the Dirt Mile has, in my opinion, really thrown a wrench into the prep races for the Sprint Division. With a Breeders' Cup race at eight furlongs and one at six furlongs, and several prep races at seven panels, we've got a whole mess of horses mixing and matching as we move towards November. A perfect example of this issue is Shackleford, a horse that TFTribe and I discussed during the podcast earlier this week. I'll discuss Shack a little more in the section below (Dirt Mile), but there is a lot of cross-over between the two divisions due to the presence of several seven furlongs stakes events around the country.
If history is any judge, the Vosburgh and the Santa Anita Sprint Championship will be the key races to watch heading into the Breeders' Cup. The Phoenix at Keeneland, again, will require us to look heavily at the dirt form of the winner before we declare that horse a major contenders. The same goes for the Pat O'Brien over the Del Mar poly.
|25-Aug||SAR||G1-King's Bishop||3up||7.0||Sprint (or Dirt Mile)|
|26-Aug||DMR||G2-Pat O'Brien||3up||7.0||Sprint (or Dirt Mile)|
|1-Sep||SAR||G1-Forego||3up||7.0||Sprint (or Dirt Mile)|
|6-Oct||SA||G1-SA Sprint Championship||3up||6.0||Sprint|
DIVISION: Filly & Mare Sprint
Key prep races in this division are generally the Test and the Gallant Bloom at Belmont, and the TCOA at Keeneland. The Filly & Mare Sprint, with a seven furlong distance (as opposed to the six furlongs of the male counterpart), can be a bit of a tricky division. That seven furlong distance isn't a true "traditional" sprint trip, meaning with again can see a bit of a mix-and-match between sprinters and milers. As a result, we should also keep an eye on some of the Ladies' Classic preps like the Cotillion, Zenyatta or Indiana Oaks where a horse might take a cut in distance to the F&M Sprint.
|19-Aug||DMR||G3-Rancho Bernardo||3up, f&m||6.5||F&M Sprint|
|24-Aug||SAR||G1-Ballarina||3up, f&m||7.0||F&M Sprint|
|25-Aug||SAR||G1-Test||3yo, f||7.0||F&M Sprint|
|8-Sep||PID||G2-PID Masters||3up, f&m||6.5||F&M Sprint|
|22-Sep||CT||Charles Town Oaks||3yo, f||7.0||F&M Sprint|
|22-Sep||BEL||G2-Gallant Bloom||3up, f&m||6.5||F&M Sprint|
|6-Oct||KEE||G2-TCOA||3up, f&m||6.0||F&M Sprint|
|20-Oct||KEE||G2-Ravens Run||3yo, f||7.0||F&M Sprint|
|27-Oct||BEL||G3-Bold Ruler||3up, f&m||7.0||F&M Sprint|
DIVISION: Filly & Mare Turf
There are a lot of races over the next two months that can be considered preps for the F&M Turf, beginning with next week's Beverly D. at Arlington Park on the Million undercard. The Flower Bowl at Belmont and the Rodeo Drive at Santa Anita are prime preps at the F&M Turf distance of 10 furlongs, while the top international contenders could exit the Prix de l'Opera on Arc weekend in France.
|12-Aug||DMR||G2-John C. Mabee||3up, f&m||9.0 (T)||F&M Turf|
|18-Aug||AP||G1-Beverly D.||3up, f&m||9.5 (T)||F&M Turf|
|18-Aug||DMR||G1-Del Mar Oaks||3yo, f||9.0 (T)||F&M Turf|
|19-Aug||SAR||G2-Lake Placid||3yo, f||9.0 (T)||F&M Turf|
|25-Aug||SAR||G2-Ballston Spa||3up, f&m||8.5 (T)||F&M Turf|
|3-Sep||DMR||G2-Yellow Ribbon||3up, f&m||8.5 (T)||F&M Turf|
|3-Sep||SAR||G3-Glens Falls||3up, f&m||11.0 (T)||F&M Turf|
|15-Sep||BEL||G1-Garden City||3yo, f||9.0 (T)||F&M Turf|
|15-Sep||BEL||G3-Noble Damsel||3up, f&m||8.0 (T)||F&M Turf|
|15-Sep||AP||G3-Pucker Up||3yo, f||9.0 (T)||F&M Turf|
|16-Sep||WO||G2-Canadian||3up, f&m||9.0 (T)||F&M Turf|
|29-Sep||BEL||G1-Flower Bowl||3up, f&m||10.0 (T)||F&M Turf|
|29-Sep||SA||G1-Rodeo Drive||3up, f&m||10.0 (T)||F&M Turf|
|13-Oct||KEE||G1-QE II Challenge Cup||3yo, f||9.0 (T)||F&M Turf|
|13-Oct||BEL||G3-Athenia||3up, f&m||8.5 (T)||F&M Turf|
DIVISION: Dirt Mile
As good of a race as the Dirt Mile has turned out to be since it was introduced to the Breeders' Cup several years ago, doesn't have much of a "traditional" path or prep race. The event has typically featured sprinters stretch out, or horses that are just off the edge of being legit Classic contenders. Additionally, as I wrote above, there are several big stakes at seven furlongs which muddies the waters between sprinters and milers, especially for a horse like Shackleford.
Shackleford ran in the six furlong Vanderbilt in his last start and will (likely) go in the seven furlong King's Bishop and then... well, who knows? He could go to the Vosburgh at six furlongs (which I think would be an utterly ridiculous spot for him if they plan on going in the Dirt Mile), or they could try something like the Presque Isle Mile on 9/7 or possibly head out to California and jump into a race like the Awesome Again in order to cut back for the Dirt Mile? The choices really aren't that clear as there aren't a lot of graded stakes at a mile this time of the year for him to run in.
|19-Aug||EMD||G3-Longacres Mile||3up||8.0||Dirt Mile|
|3-Sep||PRX||G3-Smarty Jones||3yo||8.3||Dirt Mile|
|7-Sep||PID||Presque Isle Mile||3up||8.0||Dirt Mile|
|13-Oct||CRC||G3-Spend A Buck||3up||8.5||Dirt Mile|
DIVISION: Turf Sprint
Just a quick note on this division: with this race being run at 6 1/2 furlongs on the downhill course, I am not paying a lot of attention to the traditional five furlong turf sprints. The G3-Eddie D. at Santa Anita (9/28) is the key prep.
|3-Sep||PRX||G3-Turf Monster||3up||5.0 (T)||Turf Sprint|
|8-Sep||HAY||G1-Sprint Cup||3up||6.0 (T)||Turf Sprint|
|28-Sep||SA||G3-Eddie D.||3up||6.5 (T)||Turf Sprint|
|6-Oct||KEE||G3-Woodford||3up||5.5 (T)||Turf Sprint|
DIVISION: Turf Mile
While there aren't a ton of graded stakes races on the dirt at one mile, there are plenty on the lawn, as well as many similar races in Europe that will provide major Breeders' Cup contenders.
The Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland, the Arroya Seco Mile at Santa Anita and the Woodbine Mile are three of the key North American prep races for this division. Any group winner coming over from Europe will likely be a major player and (likely) happy just to get away from Frankel (GB).
|11-Aug||SAR||G2-Fourstardave||3up||8.0 (T)||Turf Mile|
|11-Aug||DMR||G2-La Jolla||3yo||8.5 (T)||Turf Mile|
|26-Aug||DMR||G2-Del Mar Mile||3up||8.0 (T)||Turf Mile|
|1-Sep||SAR||G2-Bernard Baruch||3up||8.5 (T)||Turf Mile|
|1-Sep||MTH||G3-Cliff Hanger||3up||8.0 (T)||Turf Mile|
|2-Sep||DMR||G2-Del Mar Derby||3yo||9.0 (T)||Turf Mile|
|2-Sep||SAR||G3-Saranac||3yo||9.0 (T)||Turf Mile|
|16-Sep||WO||G1-Woodbine Mile||3up||8.0 (T)||Turf Mile|
|16-Sep||WO||G3-Ontario Derby||3yo||9.0 (T)||Turf Mile|
|22-Sep||DEL||G3-Kent||3yo||9.0 (T)||Turf Mile|
|6-Oct||BEL||G1-Jamaica||3yo||9.0 (T)||Turf Mile|
|6-Oct||KEE||G1-First Lady||3up, f&m||8.0 (T)||Turf Mile (or F&M Turf)|
|6-Oct||KEE||G1-Shadwell Turf Mile||3up||8.0 (T)||Turf Mile|
|6-Oct||SA||G2-Arroya Seco Mile||3up||8.0 (T)||Turf Mile|
|13-Oct||HAW||G3-Hawthorne Derby||3yo||9.0 (T)||Turf Mile|
|13-Oct||BEL||G3-Knickerbocker||3up||9.0 (T)||Turf Mile|
|19-Oct||KEE||G3-Valley View||3yo, f||8.5 (T)||Turf Mile (or F&M Turf)|
I really feel that this division has suffered greatly in the past few years and could really use an increase in the purse from it's current $3 million level in order to draw in some additional international contenders. Last years' winner, St Nicholas Abbey (IRE) was a pretty good winner, but the field was fairly small and the depth of this race just hasn't been present for quite some time. Additionally, the North American contingent of turf horses has really lack top class and have struggled mightily against shippers like Dangerous Midge, a borderline Group horse in Europe. That being said, there are a ton of really great stakes races on the turf over the next couple of months, highlighted by the Arlington Million, the Del Mar Handicap, Bowling Green and the Sword Dancer. In fact, in a somewhat odds twist, there are more prep races at the Turf distance of 12 furlongs than there are prep races at the Classic distance of 10 furlongs. To me, that's a bit strange.
|18-Aug||AP||American St. Leger||3up||13.5 (T)||Turf|
|18-Aug||SAR||G1-Sword Dancer||3up||12.0 (T)||Turf|
|25-Aug||DMR||G2-Del Mar Hcp.||3up||11.0 (T)||Turf|
|8-Sep||BEL||G2-Bowling Green||3up||10.0 (T)||Turf|
|15-Sep||KD||G3-Kentucky Cup Turf||3up||12.0 (T)||Turf|
|16-Sep||WO||G1-Northern Dancer||3up||12.0 (T)||Turf|
|29-Sep||BEL||G1-Hirsch Turf Classic||3up||12.0 (T)||Turf|
|30-Sep||SA||G2-John Henry Turf||3up||10.0 (T)||Turf|
|18-Aug||AP||G1-Arlington Million||3up||10.0 (T)||Turf|
DIVISION: Juvenile/Juvenile Turf/Juvenile Sprint
I'm throwing these three races together because, really, there is a lot of potential cross-over between these divisions. Many of the juvenile stakes races are at distances of six or seven furlongs, or are on synthetic surfaces, etc., etc. The Champagne at Belmont is generally a top prep for the Juvenile, while the Juvenile Turf generally draws from a collection of G2/G3/Ungraded events. The Summer Stakes at Woodbine tends to feature many of the top juvenile turf horses and the Pilgrim at Belmont is potentially a key race to watch.
|25-Aug||CRC||Fasig-Tipton Turf Dash||2yo||5.0 (T)||Juve. Sprint/Juve. Turf|
|5-Sep||DMR||G1-Del Mar Futurity||2yo||7.0||Juve./Juve. Sprint|
|6-Oct||SA||Tim Conway||2yo||6.0||Juvenile Sprint|
|12-Aug||SAR||G2-Saratoga Special||2yo, f||6.5||Juvenile|
|25-Aug||CUR||G2-Futurity||2yo||7.0 (T)||Juvenile Turf|
|5-Sep||DMR||Oak Tree Juvenile Turf||2yo||8.0 (T)||Juvenile Turf|
|8-Sep||LaD||Sunday Silence||2yo||8.0 (T)||Juvenile Turf|
|15-Sep||WO||G2-Summer Stakes||2yo||8.0 (T)||Juvenile Turf|
|15-Sep||KD||Kentucky Downs Juvenile||2yo||7.0 (T)||Juvenile Turf|
|7-Oct||BEL||G3-Pilgrim||2yo||8.5 (T)||Juvenile Turf|
DIVISION: Juvenile Fillies/Juvenile Fillies Turf
The same philosophy from the males applies to the juvenile females: there is a lot of crossover to consider, as well as international contenders, when looking at the both the Juvenile Fillies and the Juvenile Fillies Turf. The Matron and the Firzette at Belmont are generally key races for juvenile fillies on the East Coast, while the Alcibiades and Arlington-Washington Lassie provide more synthetic questions and possible contenders on both surfaces.
|12-Aug||SAR||G2-Adirondack||2yo, f||6.5||Juvenile Fillies|
|2-Sep||SAR||G1-Spinaway||2yo, f||7.0||Juvenile Fillies|
|8-Sep||AP||G3-AW Lassie||2yo, f||8.0||Juvenile Fillies|
|29-Sep||SA||G1-Chandelier||2yo, f||8.5||Juvenile Fillies|
|30-Sep||BEL||G2-Matron||2yo, f||6.0||Juvenile Fillies|
|3-Oct||KEE||G1-Alcibiades||2yo, f||8.5||Juvenile Fillies|
|6-Oct||BEL||G1-Frizette||2yo, f||8.0||Juvenile Fillies|
|3-Sep||DMR||Oak Tree Juvenile Fillies Turf||2yo, f||8.0 (T)||Juvenile Fillies Turf|
|8-Sep||LaD||Happy Ticket||2yo, f||8.0 (T)||Juvenile Fillies Turf|
|15-Sep||WO||G2-Natalma||2yo, f||8.0 (T)||Juvenile Fillies Turf|
|15-Sep||KD||Kentucky Downs Juvenile Fillies||2yo, f||7.0 (T)||Juvenile Fillies Turf|
|7-Oct||BEL||G3-Miss Grillo||2yo, f||8.5 (T)||Juvenile Fillies Turf|
|11-Oct||KEE||G3-Jessamine||2yo, f||8.5 (T)||Juvenile Fillies Turf|
There aren't any true "prep" races for the Marathon, aside from the Greenwood Cup at Parx that took place a couple of months ago. Instead, we should probably focus on Classic horses that want more ground, turf horses that try to transfer their form to the main track, and Europeans, especially ones that may have had some success on synthetic (or "standard") tracks in England and France at longer distances.
The key dates to keep in mind for top class international events (especially in Europe) are October 6th/7th and October 20th. The weekend of October 6th/7th is Arc weekend at Longchamp in France. Saturday features four Group 2 races, while Saturday has a card of seven Group 1s, including the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at a mile and a half. Two weeks later at Ascot (October 20th), is British Champions Day with two Group 1s lead by the Champions Stakes at ten furlongs, likely to be the final race in the career of Frankel (GB).
|6-Oct||LCH||G2-Prix Chaudenay||3yo||15.0 (T)||Arc Weekend|
|6-Oct||LCH||G2-Prix de Royallieu||3up, f&m||12.5 (T)||Arc Weekend|
|6-Oct||LCH||G2-Prix Dollar||3up||9.5 (T)||Arc Weekend|
|6-Oct||LCH||Prix Daniel Wildenstein||3up||8.0 (T)||Arc Weekend|
|7-Oct||LCH||G1-Prix de la Foret||3up||7.0 (T)||Arc Weekend|
|7-Oct||LCH||G1-Prix de l'Abbaye de Longchamp||2up||5.0 (T)||Arc Weekend|
|7-Oct||LCH||G1-Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe||3up||12.0 (T)||Arc Weekend|
|7-Oct||LCH||G1-Prix de l'Opera||3up, f&m||10.0 (T)||Arc Weekend|
|7-Oct||LCH||G1-Prix du Cadran||4up||20.0 (T)||Arc Weekend|
|7-Oct||LCH||G1-Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere||2yo||7.0 (T)||Arc Weekend|
|7-Oct||LCH||G1-Prix Marcel Boussac||2yo, f||8.0 (T)||Arc Weekend|
|20-Oct||ASC||G1-Brithish Champions Stakes||3up||10.0 (T)||British Champions Day|
|20-Oct||ASC||G1-Queen Elizabeth II Stakes||3up||8.0 (T)||British Champions Day|
|20-Oct||ASC||G2-British Champions F&M Stakes||3up, f&m||12.0 (T)||British Champions Day|
|20-Oct||ASC||G2-British Champions Sprint Stakes||3up||6.0 (T)||British Champions Day|
|20-Oct||ASC||G3-British Champions Long Distance Cup||3up||16.0 (T)||British Champions Day|
Prior to those two key weekends, there are a lot of high-level group races occurring throughout Europe. Pay attention to the juvenile races since, for the first time in 2012, the Breeders' Cup juvenile races will not allow horses to run on the anti-bleeding medication Lasix. That could be a major handicapping factor for the juvenile turf races since in Europe, none of the countries allow Lasix on race-day.
|22-Aug||YORK||G1-Juddmonte International||3up||10.5 (T)||Intl/England|
|23-Aug||YORK||G1-Yorkshire Oaks||3up, f&m||12.0 (T)||Intl/England|
|24-Aug||YORK||G2-Gimcrack||2yo, c&g||6.0 (T)||Intl/England|
|15-Sep||DON||G1-St. Leger||3yo, c&f||14.5 (T)||Intl/England|
|15-Sep||DON||G2-Champagne Stakes||2yo, c&g||7.0 (T)||Intl/England|
|16-Sep||DOR||G3-Deutsches St. Leger||3up||14.0 (T)||Intl/England|
|28-Sep||NEW||G1-Fillies' Mile||2yo, f||8.0 (T)||Intl/England|
|28-Sep||NEW||G2-Joel Stakes||3up||8.0 (T)||Intl/England|
|28-Sep||NEW||G3-So Sharp||2yo, f||7.0 (T)||Intl/England|
|29-Sep||NEW||G1-Cheveley Park||2yo, f||6.0 (T)||Intl/England|
|29-Sep||NEW||G1-Sun Chariot||3up, f&m||8.0 (T)||Intl/England|
|29-Sep||NEW||G2-Royal Lodge||2yo, c&g||8.0 (T)||Intl/England|
|18-Aug||DEA||G3-Prix du Calvados-Haras||2yo, f||7.0 (T)||Intl/France|
|19-Aug||DEA||G1-Prix Jean Romanent||4up, f&m||10.0 (T)||Intl/France|
|19-Aug||DEA||G1-Prix Morny||2yo||6.0 (T)||Intl/France|
|19-Aug||DEA||G2-Prix Kergorlay||3up||15.0 (T)||Intl/France|
|21-Aug||DEA||Prix de La Nonette||3yo, f||10.0 (T)||Intl/France|
|26-Aug||DEA||G2-Grand Prix de Deauville||3up||12.5 (T)||Intl/France|
|9-Sep||LCH||G3-Prix du Pin||3up||7.0 (T)||Intl/France|
|9-Sep||LCH||G3-Prix la Rochette||2yo||7.0 (T)||Intl/France|
|11-Sep||LCH||G3-Prix d'Arenberg||2yo||5.5 (T)||Intl/France|
|11-Sep||LCH||G3-Prix d'Aumale||2yo, f||8.0 (T)||Intl/France|
|16-Sep||LCH||G1-Prix du Moulin de Longchamp||3up||8.0 (T)||Intl/France|
|16-Sep||LCH||G1-Prix Vermeille||3up, f&m||12.0 (T)||Intl/France|
|16-Sep||LCH||G2-Prix Foy||4up||12.0 (T)||Intl/France|
|16-Sep||LCH||G2-Prix Niel||3yo||12.0 (T)||Intl/France|
|16-Sep||LCH||G3-Prix du Petit Couvert||3up||5.0 (T)||Intl/France|
|16-Sep||LCH||G3-Prix Gladiateur||4up||15.5 (T)||Intl/France|
|21-Sep||ML||G3-La Coupe de Maisons-Laffitte||3up||10.0 (T)||Intl/France|
|22-Sep||LCH||G2-Prix du Prince d'Orange||3yo||10.0 (T)||Intl/France|
|22-Sep||LCH||G3-Prix des Chenes||2yo, c&g||8.0 (T)||Intl/France|
|11-Oct||STC||G3-Prix Thomas Byron||3yo||8.0 (T)||Intl/France|
|23-Sep||KOL||G1-Preis von Europa||3up||12.0 (T)||Intl/Germany|
|8-Sep||LEO||G1-Irish Champion||3up||10.0 (T)||Intl/Ireland|
|8-Sep||LEO||G1-Matron||3up, f&m||8.0 (T)||Intl/Ireland|
|15-Sep||CUR||G1-Irish St. Leger||3up||14.0 (T)||Intl/Ireland|
|15-Sep||CUR||G1-National Stakes||2yo, c&f||7.0 (T)||Intl/Ireland|