We’re now within a month of thoroughbred racing’s Breeders’ Cup championships and that means early October is “Cup” preview time of year. This weekend, a total of eight Grade I stakes are available to watch and wager between Belmont and Santa Anita!
Santa Anita will play host to five Grade I stakes, each with a purse of $300,000. Featured event is the Awesome Again Stakes, whose field includes the leading active money earning horse — California Chrome — and Dortmund, who is owned by Reston, Virginia businessman Kaleem Shaw. The Zenyatta Stakes features Stellar Wind, 2015 Virginia-Bred Horse of the Year who was bred by the Keswick Stables and Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings, LLC.
Dortmund is a 4 year old son of Big Brown who has won 8 of 12 career starts for trainer Bob Baffert. He has bankrolled $1,872,480. Stellar Wind, a 4 year old daughter of Curlin, has won 6 of 10 in her career, good for earnings if $1,173,200.
Here’s the lineup from Santa Anita. They are running all five stakes consecutively, every 30 minutes:
*$300,000 Front Runner Stakes – Race 6, 6:00 PM
*$300,000 Awesome Again Stakes – Race 7, 6:30 PM
*$300,000 Rodeo Drive Stakes – Race 8, 7:00 PM
*$300,000 Zenyatta Stakes – Race 9, 7:30 PM
*$300,000 Chandelier Stakes – Race 10, 8:00 PM
Belmont is hosting five graded stakes on Saturday, a trio of which are Grade I’s. The best turf horse in the world is racing in the Joe Hirsch Turf Stakes — Flintshire. The Chad Brown trainee has a combined 18 first & second place finishes from 22 starts and is 3-for-3 this year. After winning the 2016 Sword Dancer and Bowling Green Stakes at Saratoga and the Manhattan at Belmont, his career bankroll stands at $8,809,910. Here is Belmont’s lineup:
*$500,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic – Race 6, 3:26 PM
*$350,000 Vosburgh Stakes – Race 9, 5:11 PM
*$400,000 Beldame Stakes – Race 10, 5:45 PM.
NBC Sports Network will have a national broadcast Saturday from 5:30 – 8:00 PM and will show the Awesome Again and Zenyatta Stakes live among others.
Gulfstream features Florida sired freshmen in a pair of $500,000 races, which complements six other stakes on their Saturday card:
*$500,000 My Dear Girl Stakes (2 year old fillies) – Race 10, 4:56 PM
*$500,000 In Reality Stakes (2 year olds) – Race 12, 6:06 PM
For harness fans, The Red Mile in Lexington, Kentucky heads into the heart of their season with major stakes this week. Their Bluegrass Stakes series features all divisions of two and three year old pacers & trotters, and will be held between September 29th and October 2nd. And in Ohio, the Dayton Pacing and Trotting Derbies will be held the same evening, on Friday September 30th.
Virginia residents can wager all the action via one of three on line betting partner companies — TVG.com, XPressBet.com and TwinSpires.com.
If you want to see racing live this weekend, the Virginia Equine Alliance (VEA) is hosting pari-mutuel harness racing at Shenandoah Downs in Woodstock, Virginia. The newly renovated half mile oval will play host to 10 races on Saturday & Sunday. Legendary race caller Roger Huston will be announcing races both days. The track is located off I-81 at Exit 283 halfway between Harrisonburg and Winchester. For more details, visit shenandoahdowns.com or virginiahorseracing.com.