A solid weekend of stakes action kicked off on Friday at Saratoga as Pacific Ocean and So Many Ways won a pair of Grade 3 events. Today, the action spreads across the country with Grade 1 races at Del Mar (Eddie Read) and Saratoga (CCA Oaks), and Delaware for what might be the best match-up of the weekend: Royal Delta vs. Awesome Maria in the Delaware Handicap.
In Virginia, Colonial Downs will run the Virginia Derby and the Virginia Oaks. In the Virginia Derby, Optimizer, the D. Wayne Lukas colt that has run in seemingly every graded stakes race on the planet this spring, draws the rail against a field of nine. He should perform better now that he's back on turf but at this point the only thing he's learned in the past year is how to lose.
Arlington Park continues their strong season with a nice field in the G3-Arlington Oaks, led by 5/2 favorite Treasured Up. The $0.60 Pick 5 sequence features some big, competitive fields and could be ripe for a big payout this afternoon.
The G1-Eddie Read came up with only a five horse field, let by Slim Shadey (IRE) (9/5) and Acclamation (EVEN). It's tough to see past the top two in that race but perhaps Interaction (ARG) can run another big race after shipping in from South America.
Awesome Maria or Royal Delta? It's a very tough choice in the DelCap this afternoon. Awesome Maria is coming off her first loss in over a year and a half when she finished a shocking 3rd in the G1-Phipps Handicap in late May. That performance was so our of the ordinary that you wonder if it was just a fluke or if she may have hit a peak? She is a five-year-old mare and it's not unusual for mares to kind of "switch off" at some point. I'm not ready to call her done at this point but if she throws in another clunker today then perhaps she's beyond her best.
Royal Delta bounced back nicely from her debacle in Dubai to crush her over-matched rivals in the Fleur de Lis on June 16th. With the questions I have with Awesome Maria, I have to give Royal Delta the edge in this clash between two of the top older mares in the country.
Program Changes (via Equibase):
Below is the schedule and results for this weekend's graded stakes action:
|20-Jul||SAR||G3-James Marvin||Pacific Ocean||$14.20|
|20-Jul||SAR||G3-Schuylerville||So Many Way||$7.60|
|21-Jul||SAR||G1-CC American Oaks||Questing (GB)||$9.80|
|21-Jul||DEL||G2-Delaware Hcp.||Royal Delta||$3.00|
|21-Jul||CNL||G2-Virginia Derby||Silver Max||$3.80|
|21-Jul||AP||G3-Arlington Oaks||La Tia||$9.60|
|22-Jul||DMR||G2-San Clemente Hcp.||Eden's Moon||$3.80|
|22-Jul||WO||G3-Nijinsky||Riding the River||$20.90|
|22-Jul||WO||G3-Ontario Matron||Stars to Shine||$4.40|