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News, Notes, and Weekend Stakes

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I've been away from the computer for the last few days but its back to the action today and all weekend long.  There are some great races taking place this weekend, including a couple of good cards at Prairie Meadows in Iowa, one of my favorite small tracks.

Let's first get caught up on what's going on around the world of thoroughbred racing.

Kinsale King headed to July Cup - Handicappers' Edge

Oak Tree Eyes Del Mar as Future Home - BloodHorse.com
A day after the Oak Tree Racing Association received a one-year reprieve from its landlord at Santa Anita Park, its executive vice president said he's working on a long-term lease arrangement for the autumn meet at Del Mar.

Leparoux to Return to Riding July 1 - BloodHorse.com
Jockey Julien Leparoux, who returned to the saddle galloping horses at Churchill Downs June 23, will resume race riding next Thursday, July 1.

Breeders’ Cup to offer 65 automatic spots in Challenge - Thoroughbred Times

Winslow Homer Makes Return in Iowa Derby | BloodHorse.com
Fox Hill Farm's Winslow Homer is an unexpected headliner in a field of six in the $250,000 Iowa Derby (gr. III) June 26 at Prairie Meadows.

-It's Iowa Derby weekend at Prairie Meadows with the Friday card featuring the Iowa Distaff and the Iowa Sprint Handicap.  The Sprint Handicap has drawn a very solid field that includes G2-Churchill Downs winner and G3-Arisides runner-up Atta Boy Roy (7/2); Cash Refund (9/2), winner of the Duncan F. Kenner at the Fair Grounds; Phoenix Gold Cup winner Ez Dreamer (6/1); and the lightly raced Steve Asmussen trainee, Majesticperfection (5/1), who was brilliant in his last two starts in Allowance races at Churchill Downs and Oaklawn Park.

The first thing I noticed about the Iowa Sprint is the fact that the race is filled with speed and doesn't contain much in the way of horses that like to do their running late in the race.  Humble Destin (6/1) came from well back to win an N1X race at Remington last November, but that isn't his normal running style.

Majesticperfection will be facing the toughest test of his career in his fifth lifetime start, but the way he's dominated those last two races makes it difficult to toss him to the side; the back-to-back triple digit Beyers in those last two will ensure that he's well-backed at the windows.  Majesticperfection isn't without question marks as I'm unsure about his ability to deal with what should be a very hot pace on the front end; his last two dominate performances came after he took advantage of gaining easy leads on the front end.  

One of the outsiders in this Iowa Sprint is Peaceful Reign (8/1), a Washington-bred gelding that has been plying his trade at Emerald Downs the past two years.  Recently, he was third to Noosa Beach in the Seattle Handicap after winning his first start of the year in a optional claiming event on May 2nd.  Finishing third to Noosa Beach is no disgrace as that gelding has been one of the top sprinters at Emerald the last couple of years.  Peaceful Reign should have the speed to be well positioned early, but it remains to be seen whether he can keep up with a fairly classy field like this one.

The other Washington-bred in this race, Atta Boy Roy, is currently racing in the best form of his career and he's shown an occasional ability to come from slightly off the pace to take top honors.  Drawing wide should be an advantage provided he doesn't get stuck too far out when coming around the far turn.  His 7/2 odds might drift up a bit if the crowd sees fit to hammer the Asmussen colt.

-The Iowa Distaff drew a small field of six but it's a fairly competitive group with all six seemingly having a decent shot at success.  Unlike the race after it, the Iowa Sprint, the Distaff doesn't have a ton of need-to-lead speed and instead features fillies and mares that generally prefer to sit just of the early speed.  If anyone of these can grab and easy lead, they might be able to take the field all the way.

Euphony (5/2) comes into this race as the defending champion but hasn't won a race since and has run so-so in her last several races.  She possesses a bunch of back class but she'll need to get involved early if she's to have a good chance at the win.  Those 5/2 odds seem a little short for a mare that really isn't on top of her game right now.

Wynning Ride (3/1) is more of a stalker than a pure speed filly, but she does possess and good early turn of foot and she's drawn the rail, which might be enough to prompt her to the front in the early going.  She's got the back class to match up against every rival in this field as she finished 2nd in the G2-Milady, 3rd in the G1-Coaching Club American Oaks, and 2nd in the G1-Hollywood Starlet.  If she can secure the early lead, she could be very tough to get by in the lane.

-Entries for all races on Friday and Saturday at Prairie Meadows can be found at the links below:

Prairie Meadows, June 25, 2010 - Daily Racing Form
Prairie Meadows, June 26, 2010 - Daily Racing Form

-Below is a summary of all the graded stakes for Saturday and Sunday.

Stakes_sched_6 

-It's disappointing how poorly some of the top races for fillies and mares have drawn this season.  The Fleur de Lis and the Vanity saw small fields as everyone tried to avoid Rachel and Zenyatta, and now the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks Mother Goose draws a paltry five fillies, including Derby runner Devil May Care.   Perhaps it's time to re-evaluate how many graded races we really need during the year; I'd rather see less graded races with larger fields than all of these five and six horse contests with one heavy favorite. 

-On early Sunday morning the Group 1 Irish Derby will take place at The Curragh.  HRTV will be broadcasting the race, the first time that the race has aired live on TV in the U.S. 

Free PPs for the entire Irish Derby card can be found at Brisnet.com and should be available late today or early tomorrow.