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Weekend Stakes Preview (8/14)

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A bit of a lighter stakes calendar this weekend with only one Grade 1 affair, the Sword Dancer, on the docket.  We get a bit more of a glimpse at the juvenile divisions as Monmouth will run a juvenile turf race in the Continental Mile on Saturday, while Saratoga will offer a pair of juvenile races, the Saratoga Special and the Adirondack.

-Today's Continental Mile is an opportunity to take a look at some of juvenile on the lawn, many trying the surface for the first time.

7-Powhatan Country (3/1) makes sense in this race on a lot of level, the most significant of which is his maiden breaking score on the lawn at Saratoga on July 29th.  He had a bit of a wide trip that day but made a nice late charge in deep stretch to score by ¾ of a length at the wire.  In that win, Powhatan Country ran the final 3/8ths of a mile in 29.36

9-Beatnik (10/1) looks like a nice long shot play in this spot.  A son of Kitten's Joy out of a Gone West mare, Beatnick won his debut effort at Presque Isle Downs on the Polytrack on June 26th.  The Beyer figure for that race came back abysmally slow (40) but I'm pretty much ignoring that number in this spot.  The key for me is the breeding and the first time start on the lawn; all spring and summer we've seen Kitten's Joy offspring that woke up on the lawn after performing so-so in their dirt or synthetic races.  Graham Motion knows how to handle turf runners and I'd expect Beatnick to out run his 10/1 morning line odds in this race.

-Sunday's Grade 2 Adirondack for juvenile fillies features an extremely contentious field of ten.  Todd Pletcher's 8-Position Limit (5/2) grabs morning line favoritism based of her impressive maiden breaking win at Belmont back on July 14th, but she's going to face a much sterner test in this spot. 

Bob Baffert ships 4-Alienation (4/1) across the country to run in this spot following her maiden breaking score in a turf Maiden Special Weight at Hollywood Park on July 5th.  She was a bit green in that debut winning effort but still held on for the win over a field that featured two next out winners, a next out runner-up, and a next out show filly.  If she can take a step forward off of that effort she should fit in nicely with this group even with the surface change. The filly is owned by the Baffert family.

-Monday's Grade 2 Saratoga Special doesn't have the depth of the Adirondack but it's got a bit more star power in the form Kantharos and Sovereign Default.

Kantharos is probably the current default leader of the juvenile division based on his two dominating wins at Churchill Downs in May and July.  He broke him maiden on July 13th with a 11 ¾ length score in a Maiden Special Weight and followed that up with a 9 ½ length win in the Grade 3 Bashford Manor on July 3rd where he broke poorly and still blew away the field. 

Sovereign Default only has a maiden score to his credit (July 15th, MdSpWt @ BEL), but it was a powerful and professional effort for the Northern Afleet colt.  On paper, he appears to be the prime rival for Kantharos.