Saturday’s stakes races were the first of two big weekends in a row that should serve as final preps for the Breeders’ Cup and help clear the air as to what the fields will be for the season ending championships of thoroughbred racing. The Breeders’ Cup is a two-day event that will take place at Keenland Racetrack in Kentucky on October 30th and 31th.
On both coasts (Belmont, Santa Anita) there were ‘Win and you’re in’ qualifying races where the winner gets an automatic entry.
At Belmont Park the ‘Win and you’re in’ races were the Vosburgh Stakes and the Joe Hirsh Turf Classic.
The Vosburgh is a six- furlong dirt sprint, setting up for the Breeders’ Cup sprint. The winner of that race was Rock Fall, who won easily as a heavy 2-5 favorite.
The Joe Hirsh Turf Classic was won by Big Blue Kitten, who went off as second choice in the betting at 5-2. The seven-year-old gelding won the mile and one half race in impressive fashion, stopping the clock in 2:23.39, a new course record.
Over on the west coast was Santa Anita’s big stakes day. This is the first year since 2011 the event has been held outside of Santa Anita. The qualifying races run were the Frontrunner Stakes (won last year by American Pharoah), The Awesome Again Stakes, The Chandelier Stakes, The Rodeo Drive Stakes, and the Zenyatta Stakes. In the Awesome Again Stakes, Smooth Roller defeated last year’s Classic winner Bayern, who despite not winning a race all year, went off as the 6-5 favorite. After the sub par year he had Bayern was retired this moring. Beholder was the winner of the Zenyatta which qualifies for the Distaff, however her previous race she won the Pacific Coast Classic which puts her in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Classic.
The race, winners and the Breeders’ Cup races they qualify go as follow:
Chandelier Stakes – Songbird – Juvenile fillies
Rodeo Drive – Photo Call – Filly and mare Turf
Frontrunner – Nyquist – Juvenile colt
Zenyatta Stakes – Beholder – The Distaff
Awesome Again Stakes – Smooth Roller – Classic
Next Saturday there will be four Grade 1 qualifying races at Belmont Park. There will also be the Grade 2 Kelso Handicap, and the Grade 3 Hill Prince.
Flower Bowl Invitational – Filly and Mare Turf
Foxwoods Champange Stakes – Juvenile Colts
Frizzette – Juvenile Fillies
Jockey Club Gold Cup – Classis
Santa Anita will only have one more qualifying race: the Santa Anita Sprint Championship, qualifying race is self-explanatory.
Also next weekend the fall meet for Breeders’ Cup host
Keenland Racecourse will begin and with that will host a slew of qualifying races throughout the weekend.
Ogden Phoenix Stakes – Sprint
Darley Alcibiades Stakes – Juvenile Fillies
Shadwell Turf Mile – Mile
Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes – Filly and Mare Sprint
Clairborne Breeders’ Futurity – Juvenile Colts
Bourbon Stakes – Juvenile Colts
Juddmonte Spinster Stakes – Distaff