The Horseplayer’s “Weekend Before Thanksgiving” Preview

It’s the post-Breeders’ Cup time of year and the weekend before Thanksgiving. Does that mean a lack of action in the horse racing world to watch and wager? NOT! There are many big stakes coming up next week — Mahoning Valley takes  center stage on Monday, then Zia Park & Penn National host major stakes on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving. On holiday weekend, Aqueduct, Churchill Downs and Del Mar play host to major graded stakes including a trio of Grade I events.

The new OTB at Buckets in Chesapeake will have its grand opening Saturday November 18th.

There are now three OTBs in Virginia where fans can bet the action — Breakers Sports Grille and Ponies & Pints in Richmond, and Buckets Bar & Grill  in Chesapeake. Virginia residents can also wager horses on line via four partner on line sites:,, and

Here’s a preview of this weekend’s top races:

Churchill Downs

The Twin Spires track offers the only graded stakes of the weekend — Saturday’s $100,000 Grade III Cardinal Handicap at 9 furlongs on the turf. Twelve fillies and mares are set to face the starter with the morning-line favorite, Dona Bruja, drawn in the outside gate. The 5-year-old Argentine-bred mare has started four times since coming north, posting two wins, a second and a fourth, all in graded stakes.


Saturday’s $100,000 Artie Schiller Stakes at 1 mile on the grass drew 11 with Delta Prince and Blacktype the morning-line favorites. Delta Prince was third in the Grade II Bernard Baruch at Saratoga in his last start. Blacktype exits a Grade II victory in the Knickerbocker on the Belmont Park lawn.

Del Mar

Saturday’s program includes the $100,000 Dezi Arnaz Stakes for 2-year-old fillies going 7 furlongs. None of the six entrants has done much to brag about.

Sunday’s feature is the $100,000 Cary Grant Stakes for 3-year-olds and up, going 7 furlongs on the dirt.

Delta Downs

The Grade III Delta Downs Jackpot, won last year by Gunnevera, was scrubbed from Saturday’s schedule in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. The track will, however, run a pair of 2-year-old races for state-breds, each worth $150,000. Saturday’s Louisiana Legacy drew 12 entries for 10 spots with Budro Talking, Gladyousawme and Star Anne the morning-line favorites. Friday night’s Louisiana Jewel attracted 11 2-year-old fillies starring 9-5 early pick Testing One Two, a Star Guitar filly who was a dominant winner last time out at Evangeline Downs.


The Toronto-area oval also has a pair of restricted 2-year-old races — Saturday’s $100,000 (Canadian) Frost King and Saturday’s $100,000 (Canadian) Glorious Song for 2-year-old fillies. Both are 7 furlongs on the all-weather track.

Hawthorne Racecourse

Hawthorne’s stakes schedule rolls on with nine set for Saturday’s $100,000 Sun Power Stakes for Illinois-bred 2-year-old colts and geldings. Ghaaleb’s Winner is a solid favorite with two wins and a third in the Arlington-Washington Futurity on his resume.

Fair Grounds

Yes, Fair Grounds. The nation’s third-oldest track reopens Saturday with a program that includes four overnight stakes that work as preps for the Dec. 9 Louisiana Champions Day card. The New Orleans oval will run through March 31 with the Louisiana Derby on March 24 the key date