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Weekend Stakes Action: Woodbine and Prairie Meadows take center stage

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Astrology is the favorite for Saturday's Iowa Derby at Prairie Meadows.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Astrology is the favorite for Saturday's Iowa Derby at Prairie Meadows. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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There is a pretty diverse group of stakes races on tap this weekend across North America; the Queen's Plate takes center stage at Woodbine, Prairie Meadows will feature it's Iowa Festival of Racing, juveniles take center stage at Churchill, and Belmont presents the Grade 1 Mother Goose. In total, there are twelve graded stakes races schedule for this weekend (one Grade 1, three Grade 2s, and six Grade 3s).  The $1 million Queen's Plate on Sunday is ungraded.

The Iowa Festival of Racing kicks off tonight at Prairie Meadows and continues through tomorrow evening. Saturday's card will feature three Graded races, including the $300,000 Grade 3 Cornhusker Handicap (post time 10:17 Central). Eight-year-old gelding Awesome Gem, winner of the G3-Lone Star Park Handicap last time out, is the morning line favorite for the Cornhusker at odds of 3/1.  First post for both Prairie Meadows cards is 6:30pm Central time.

This weekend is just a primer for next weekend's holiday stakes action.  Over the four day Fourth of July weekend, fifteen graded stakes races will take place, including four Grade 1s (United Nations, Shoemaker Mile, Triple Bend Hcp, Prioress), five Grade 2s and six Grade 3s.

Below is a snapshot of some of the stakes action this weekend.

Day Race Track Age/Sex Dist. Surf.
Fri Iowa Sprint Hcp. PRM 3up 6.0 Dirt
Fri Saylorville Stakes PRM 3up, f&m 6.0 Dirt
Fri Iowa Distaff PRM 3up, f&m 8.5 Dirt
Sat G3-Cornhusker Hcp. PRM 3up 9.0 Dirt
Sat G3-Iowa Derby PRM 3yo 8.5 Dirt
Sat G1-Mother Goose BEL 3yo, f 8.5 Dirt
Sat G2-King Edward WO 3up 8.0 Turf
Sat G3-Iowa Oaks PRM 3yo, f 8.5 Dirt
Sat G2-Hollywood Oaks HOL 3yo, f 8.5 Synth.
Sat G3-Boiling Springs MTH 3yo, f 8.5 Dirt
Sat G2-New York Stakes BEL 3up, f&m 10.0 Turf
Sat G3-Debutante CD 2yo, f 6.0 Dirt
Sun Queen's Plate WO 3yo 10.0 Synth.
Sun G2-Highlander WO 3up 6.0 Turf
Sun G3-Singspiel WO 3up 12.0 Turf
Sun G3-Beverly Hills HOL 3up, f&m 10.0 Turf

News and Notes:

  • I'm not sure how the Iowa Sprint is still and ungraded race as the race has featured some pretty nice fields over the last several years.  The prior four winners of this race are Majesticperfection, E Z Dreamer, Native Ruler, and Benny The Bull.  That seems like a Grade 3 race to me.

    7-Atta Boy Roy finished 2nd in last year's Iowa Sprint to Majesticperfection and will try again this year.  In his last race, he finished 2nd in the G3-Aristides at Churchill Downs.

    4-Ventana garners favorite status for the race off of his win in the G3-Maryland Sprint on Preakness day.

    3-Humble Smartly comes to Prairie Meadows after a huge performance at Canterbury in which he earned a mammoth 110 Beyer figure.  We'll see how well that holds up tonight
  • Eight horses will contest Saturday's Iowa Derby, led by the show horse from the Preakness, 5-Astrology (9/5)

    Bob Baffert's 1-Prayer for Relief (7/2) will make his first start outside of California and his first start on dirt.
  • Emerald Downs began their new $0.50 Pick 5 last week and saw payouts of $555,30 (Friday), $853.05 (Saturday), and $1,449.70 (Sunday) over the first weekend of play.  (The Friday night Pick 5 was omitted from the Equibase/DRF charts and the payout numbers are from EMD's press release)
  • Dialed In, winner of the Holy Bull and the Florida Derby, will undergo knee surgery and will likely miss the rest of the year, according to the Daily Racing Form.
  • Churchill Downs is trying to get things back to normal after a tornado touched down at the track on Wednesday evening.  No humans or horses were injured during the event.
  • The Hollywood Oaks drew a field of only five fillies, led by 3-Plum Pretty (6/5) and 4-Zazu (8/5).
  • While the Queen's Plate is the headline race for Sunday's card at Woodbine, Saturday's card is also very nice to the handicapping eyes.  The G2-King Edward Stakes drew a field of 11 (led by Society's Chairman at 7/2), while the listed My Dear Stakes for juvenile fillies drew fourteen entries. 

    The four races comprising the late Pick 4 have a total of 44 entries.