A big weekend of stakes races on tap over the holiday weekend, including two Grade 1's on Memorial Day - the Met Mile and the Gamely. The rest of the weekend features a ton of stakes races on the grass at Belmont, Churchill, Woodbine, Hollywood, Arlington, and Lone Star.
Below is a list of the weekend's top stakes action.
|Sat.||G2-Sheepshead Bay||BEL||3up, f&m||11.0||Turf|
|Sat.||G3-Arlington Matron||AP||3up, f&m||9.0||Poly|
|Sat.||Arlington Classic||AP||3yo, f&m||9.0||Poly|
|Mon.||G3-Los Angeles Handicap||HOL||3up||6.0||Poly|
|Mon.||G3-Winning Colors||CD||3up, f&m||6.0||Dirt|
|Mon.||G3-Ouija Board Distaff||LS||3up, f&m||8.0||Turf|
|Mon.||G3-Violet Stakes||MON||3up, f&m||8.5||Turf|
|Mon.||G3-Lone Star Park Handicap||LS||3up||8.5||Dirt|
|Mon.||Dallas Turf Cup||LS||3up||8.5||Turf|
|Mon.||Lone Star Derby||LS||3yo||8.5||Turf|
Some thoughts on the stakes line-up
- Entries for the races on Memorial Day are not yet out, but there is an impressive line-up of stakes races across the county, including the Grade 1 Met Mile at Belmont and the Grade 1 Comely Stakes at Hollywood. I'll have more on the Monday races once the entries are released.
- Sidney's Candy gets back on the turf in the American Handicap at Hollywood on Saturday afternoon. The Usual Q.T. will also be in the starting gate, along with a very nice shipper from Germany, 6-Goldwaki, that I would keep my eye on. The mile is likely not the best distance for Goldwaki, but he has the back class to be a major player in the SoCal turf races later on this summer. He's definitely one to watch.
- The Arlington Classic on Saturday is an early test for local colts pointing towards the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes on Arlington Million Day. The race has drawn a evenly matched field of twelve, with many of the colts coming into the race right out of allowance conditions on their way up the class ladder. 12-Extensive (7/2) grabs morning line favorite status following a win over Florida-breds in the listed Sophomore Turf Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs in early April.
- Older fillies and mares line up in the Arlington Matron on Saturday; 6-It's Tea Time (3/1) is one of the more interesting prospects in the field following decent tries against graded company on poly and turf. 4-Pachattack (9/2) returns to the U.S. after spending some time in England this spring, finishing 3rd in the Group 3 Winter Derby at Lingfield, and a well-beaten 9th in the Group 3 Dahlia Stakes at Newmarket. Pachattack won the listed Maple Leaf Stakes at Woodbine last November.
- One of the top races of the weekend is the Louisville Handicap at Churchill on Saturday, where 4-Kertana (2/1),a five-year-old mare by Johar, will take on the boys. Kertana won the Grade 3-Bewitch Stakes at Keeneland in her first start of 2011, and was 3rd in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf last fall. She'll face stiff competition from morning line favorite 10-Musketier (GER), winner of the Grade 2-Elkhorn Stakes at Keeneland this spring, along with a 2nd in the Grade 3-Pan American at Gulfstream Park.
- One of my favorite turf mares, La Luna de Miel (GER), will run in the Sheepshead Bay at Belmont on Saturday following a disappointing effort in the Grade 3-Bewitch at Keeneland in late April. After shipping to the U.S. from Germany, La Luna de Miel won her first two starts at Gulfstream Park this winter, including the Grade 3-Orchid Stakes on March 20th. La Luna de Miel should be a candidate for a much improved performance in the Sheepshead if the Belmont course comes up on the firmer side; the Bewitch was over yielding ground and is the likely reason for her dull effort that day.