Now that summer is here and more tracks are coming back on line, the July stakes schedule is blossoming quite nicely. There are many big races to look forward to and some are even happening a bit earlier than normal.
Major tracks will be opening in July. Ellis Park opens July 2, Monmouth on July 3, Keeneland on July 8 with its first ever five day summer meet, Saratoga on July 16 and Del Mar on July 18. And of course, Colonial Downs will usher in a six week meet on July 27 with racing every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at 5:30 PM.
On Saturday June 27, Churchill Downs will host four graded stakes including the $500,000 Stephen Foster. Also on the card is the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis, Grade 3 Regret and Grade 3 Bashford Manor Stakes. Belmont also hosts a four pack of graded stakes highlighted by the $300,000 Just A Game (Gr. I). The under card includes the Grade 2 New York Stakes, Grade 2 True North and Grade 3 Vagrancy Stakes. Thistledown plays host to the $500,000 Ohio Derby (Grade 3) and Woodbine offers up the Grade 2 Nassau Stakes.
Belmont Park keeps the spotlight on Saturday July 4 when they host five graded stakes. A pair of Grade I’s headline — the $400,000 Manhattan and $500,000 Runhappy Metropolitan. The Grade 2 Suburban and a pair of Grade 3’s — the Poker and Victory Ride Stakes — round out the program. Delaware Park presents the $300,000 Delaware Oaks (Gr. 3) and $200,000 Kent Stakes (Gr. 3) on the July 4 holiday, while Los Alamitos hosts the $200,000 Great Lady M. Stakes (Gr. 2) and the $150,000 Los Alamitos Derby (Gr. 3).
Indiana Downs hosts their biggest annual race day on Wednesday July 8 highlighted by the 26th running of the Grade 3, $300,000 Indiana Derby. Five other stakes are programmed that afternoon including the Grade 3 Indiana Oaks.
Keeneland’s unique five day meet features the Grade I Makers Mark Mile on Friday July 10, a trio of Grade I’s the next day — the Madison, Ashland and Jenny Wiley Stakes — along with the $600,000 Toyota Bluegrass Stakes (Gr. 2), and an impressive pair on closing day (Sunday July 12) — the Grade 2 Elkhorn and Grade 3 Transylvania.
In addition to Keeneland’s powerhouse card on the 11th, Delaware Park hosts the $400,000 Delaware Handicap (Gr. 2) and Robert G. Dick Memorial Stakes (Gr. 3) that afternoon.
The following Saturday, July 18, three Grade I stakes are on tap — the $1 Million Haskell and $300,000 United Nations at Monmouth, and the $350,000 Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga. Monmouth’s undercard features a trio of Grade 3’s — the Molly Pitcher, Monmouth Cup and Win Star Matchmaker Stakes. Del Mar opens with the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap while Woodbine hosts the Grade 2 Royal North Stakes.
Other upcoming Grade 1 stakes at Saratoga this summer include the Alfred G. Vanderbilt on July 25, the Whitney, Personal Ensign and Allen Jerkens Memorial on August 1, the Travers, Test Stakes and Ballerina Handicap on August 8, the Alabama on August 15 followed by the Fourstardave on August 22, Diana on August 23, Sword Dancer and Forego on August 29, then the Woodward, Spinaway and Hopeful on closing weekend, September 5-7.
Virginia residents can watch and wager the action on line via these partner companies: TVG.com, Xpressbet.com, Twinspires.com and NYRABets.com. Beginning July 1, bets can also be placed at all Colonial Downs-Rosie’s Gaming Emporium sites in Richmond, New Kent, Hampton and Vinton and at the VA-Horseplay OTBs in Richmond (Ponies & Pints), Henrico (Breakers Sports Grille), Chesapeake (Buckets Bar & Grill) and Collinsville (Windmill OTB Sports Grill). A complete simulcast schedule is available at colonialdowns.com.