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Weekend Preview (9/24 - 9/26)

Date

Race

Gr.

Track

Division

Dist.

Surf.

9/24/10

Manikato Stakes

1

Moonee (Aus)

Turf Sprint

6.0

Turf

9/24/10

La Coupe de Maisons-Laffitte

3

Maisons-Laffite

Turf

10.0

Turf

9/25/10

Queen Elizabeth II Stakes

1

Ascot

Mile

8.0

Turf

9/25/10

Fillies' Mile

1

Ascot

Juv. Fillies Turf

8.0

Turf

9/25/10

Super Derby

2

La. Downs

Classic

10.0

Dirt

9/25/10

Gallant Bloom Hcp.

2

Belmont

F&M Sprint

6.5

Dirt

9/25/10

Royal Lodge Stakes

2

Ascot

Juvenile Turf

8.0

Turf

9/25/10

Pennsylvania Derby

2

Parx

Classic

9.0

Dirt

9/25/10

Kent Stakes

3

Delaware Park

Mile

9.0

Turf

9/25/10

Sunday Silence

Listed

La. Downs

Juvenile Turf

8.5

Turf

9/25/10

Happy Ticket

Listed

La. Downs

Juv. Fillies Turf

8.5

Turf

9/26/10

Preis Von Europa

1

Cologne

Turf

12.0

Turf

9/26/10

Beresford Stakes

2

Curragh

Juvenile Turf

8.0

Turf

9/26/10

John Guest Diadem Stakes

2

Ascot

Turf Sprint

6.0

Turf

9/26/10

Selene Stakes

3

Woodbine

Ladies' Classic

8.5

Poly.

9/26/10

BC Derby

3

Hastings

Dirt Mile

9.0

Dirt

9/26/10

Weld Park Stakes

3

Curragh

Juv. Fillies Turf

7.0

Turf

9/26/10

Gottstein Futurity

Listed

Emerald

Juvenile

8.5

Dirt

 

Note: Chart appears best on "wide" setting.

Domestically there aren't a ton of "big name" races going on this weekend.  In fact, there isn't a single grade 1 race scheduled to run anywhere in North America.  There are, however, a bunch of Grade 2 and 3 stakes in North America and several Group 1's in Europe and Australia that could have an impact on this year's Breeders' Cup.   Here's a rundown of some things to look for both in North America and abroad.

North America

-Two races restricted to three year olds, the Super Derby and the Pennsylvania Derby, highlight this weekend's domestic stakes calendar.  The Pennsylvania Derby appears on paper to be the strong of the two races although I'm not sure if it will have a greater impact on the Classic or the Dirt Mile.  I'm going to take a guess that the connections of First Dude will point to the Classic unless their colt really flops at Parx as he's shown enough to warrant a shot at the big boys even if he's not a top contenders.  Some of the other runners in the Pa. Derby field, horses like Morning Line, Exhi, Friend or Foe, and A Little Warm, even a big performance in this race probably doesn't make them anything other than a long shot in the Classic.  But anyone of those colts would be extremely formidable in the dirt mile.

-The field for the Super Derby, sadly, came up really soft this year with only six horses entered in a race that once saw winners such as Sunday Silence, Seeking The Gold, Alysheba, Tiznow, and Sunny's HaloHurricane Ike is the standout horse in this year's edition, and also the 9/5 morning line, but based on current form it's hard to see him as anything other than a Dirt Mile horse.

-While the Super Derby comes up a bit light this year there are two other races on the Louisiana Downs card that could figure prominently in this year's Breeders' Cup, depending on the performances of the horses within them - the Happy Ticket and the Sunday Silence.  Each race is a 1 1/16 mile turf event for juveniles; the Happy Ticket features fillies and the Sunday Silence is open to either colts or fillies (although the field is comprised of only colts and geldings).  There aren't a lot of two-turn races on the lawn for juveniles this time of year, so this is a rare opportunity to get a look at two year olds routing on turf.

One filly to keep an eye on in the Happy Ticket is Lawyer Tiffany, a Louisiana-bred daughter of Pure Prize that dominated Maiden Special Weight competition in her only career start.  She gets a jockey switch to Patrick Valenzuela and this race will be her first try on grass, which for me is what makes this filly so intriguing.  She showed a bunch of talent on the dirt in her first start but if she's able to transfer that to the grass, she could be much the best.

The undefeated Aces N Kings is the standout in the Sunday Silence after winning the Sunny's Halo Stakes last time out by 6 ¼ lengths going one mile on the grass.  Aces N Kings is a Texas-bred who ripped off three straight wins at Lone Star to begin his career before shipping to Louisiana Downs in July.  He's won back-to-back stakes events since arriving from Texas. 

-The Kent Stakes at Delaware Park on Saturday has drawn a very nice field that includes Interactif, Workin for Hops and Lentenor, the full brother to Barbaro

Interactif's form has turned around in his last two races after Todd Pletcher put him back on the turf where he appears to be much more effective than on dirt or synthetic.  The only question with Interactif might be with the distance as he may want a bit more ground.

Workin for Hops ran well to finish third in the Secretariat Stakes to Paddy O'Prado and Wigmore Hall and comes into this race on very good form.  This gelding won at a mile on the turf last December at the Fair Grounds but that was an OC/N1X race where he was allowed to lead the field though a ½ mile in 50.87.  Even though there isn't a lot of speed in this race I doubt the pace will be that slow. 

Michael Matz took a shot in the Florida Derby with Letenor and while he ran a respectable fourth, his four months off afterwards suggests that the race took a lot out of him.  His first race off the bench was a so-so effort in an OC/N2X turf race and he'll need to improve awfully quickly to win in this spot.  He looks like he needs a bit more seasoning.

-On Sunday out here in the Pacific Northwest, Emerald Downs will featuring the 73rd running of the Gottstein Futurity, the championship race for juveniles.  Previous winners of the Gottstein are Gallant Son and the filly Smarty Deb, both of which went on to run in the Breeders' Cup following their wins. This year's version doesn't appear to have a horse that could go on and run in the Juvenile but there are a couple of nice looking two year olds, Couldabenthewhisky and Winter Warlock, which are vying for seasonal honors.

International

-The big race in Europe this weekend is the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot featuring Rip Van Winkle (IRE) and Makfi (GB).  This race could turn out to be a prep for the Mile or the Classic, depending on where trainer Aiden O'Brien decides to point Rip. 

In his last race, Makfi (GB) defeated Goldikova (IRE) and Paco Boy (IRE) at Deauville in the Group 1 Jacques le Marois.

-There are two other group races on the Saturday Ascot card: the Group 2 Fillies Mile for juvenile fillies featuring Goldolphin's undefeated White Moonstone (by Dynaformer out of Desert Gold), and the Group 2 Royal Lodge, with Frankel, the current favorite for the 2011 Epsom Derby by U.K. bookmakers.

-On Sunday, the Curragh in Ireland will run two more group races for juveniles: the Group 3 CL Weld Park Stakes for two-year-old fillies, and the Group 2 Juddmonte Beresford Stakes for colts and geldings.  The Beresford field will include Casamento (IRE) who ran second by a head to Pathfork in the Group 1 Vincent O'Brien International last time out.  It was recently announced that Pathfork will ship to the U.S. for the Breeders' Cup and will run on the dirt in the Juvenile.

-Finally, the Group 1 Manikato Stakes will be run at Moonee Valley in Australia, a six furlong race on the grass that serves as a "Win and You're In" race for the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint.