With five Grade 1 races and one Grade 2—all of them “Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In” events—on tap, the rapid fire action will be fast and furious. Not to be left out or forgotten on Super Saturday, Santa Anita will play host to five Grade 1 events as well today, all with Breeders’ Cup ramifications. Gone are the Santa Anita stakes names of the past (being an old school guy I believe there is something to be said for the traditional stakes names). The historic Oak Leaf Stakes, Norfolk Stakes, Goodwood, Yellow Ribbon and Lady’s Secret Stakes have been renamed. Shortly after Belmont Park wraps up its stakes feast, Santa Anita will follow with the Chandelier Stakes (G1), Frontrunner Stakes (G1), Zenyatta Stakes (G1), Rodeo Drive Stakes (G1) and the Awesome Again Stakes (G1). The races and their new monikers round out a day of nearly non-stop stakes activity that should provide an insightful preview of this year’s Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championsips.
Kicking off the stakes festivities is the Beldame (G1) with a 2:58 p.m. post time. Royal Delta and It’s Tricky headline that 1 1/8-mile fixture.
Last year’s Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic (G1) winner Royal Delta owns two graded stakes victories this year. Most recently the Besilu Stables colorbearer finished second to Love and Pride in Saratoga’s Personal Ensign Stakes (G1). The daughter of Empire Maker looks to rebound this afternoon for trainer Bill Mott and jockey Mike Smith following a couple of quick drills at Belmont Park.
It’s Tricky, cue the Run DMC rap song of the same name that plays in the background of the Pass the Buck blogtalkradio program each time It’s Tricky is mentioned on the show, will carry the blue Godolphin Racing colors into the Beldame showdown. The daughter of Mineshaft has done little wrong in a sensational career. She has won three of four stakes this year and finished third last time out behind Love and Pride and Royal Delta in the Personal Ensign after a terrible stumble at the start that severely compromised her chances. She also sports some fast moves leading up to this race. I can’t wait to watch these two square off once again.
Next in line at 3:30 p.m. is the Kelso (G2) at one mile. To Honor and Serve, Shackleford and Tapizar figure to put on quite a show in this one. To Honor and Serve gamely held off Mucho Macho Man last time out in the Woodward (G1) at Saratoga. He cuts back in distance this afternoon, but the Live Oak Plantation runner is three for four at the distance. The ever popular Shackleford looks to rebound from a dismal effort in the mud last time out in the Vanderbilt (G1) at Saratoga. Track condition may necessitate a scratch if the track is off. Tapizar returned to the races in fine fettle on Aug. 4, wiring a stakes field at Mountaineer. The son of Tapit hadn’t been seen since a second-place finish in the Razorback Handicap (G3) at Oaklawn Park in March. Corey Nakatani, fresh off a stakes win aboard Unbridled’s Note on opening day at Santa Anita, has the call for trainer Steve Asmussen.
The Vosburgh (G1), at 4:04 p.m., brings out the sprinters. The competitive group appears evenly-matched on paper. The entry of Sean Avery and The Lumber Guy figure to attract their share of attention, as will Justin Phillip, Poseidon’s Warrior, Fort Loudon, Rothko, Little Drama and Caixa Eletronica.
The Flower Bowl Invitational (G1), for fillies and mares on the turf, is set for 4:38 p.m. and features millionaire Zagora (FR), a winner in four of six starts this season, and Beverly D. Stakes (G1) winner I’m a Dreamer (IRE). Helping decide the 1 ¼-mile fixture is Dream Peace (IRE), runner-up to Winter Memories in the prestigious Diana Stakes (G1).
The Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational (G1), named for one of the most prolific turf writers the industry has ever known, has a post time of 5:12 p.m. The small but mighty Florida-bred Little Mike will take on Point of Entry, Finnegan’s Wake and Treasure Beach in the 1 ½-mile marathon. Little Mike captured the Arlington Million (G1) in his last race, while Point of Entry is coming off a four-length romp in the Sword Dancer (G1) at Saratoga. Donegal Racing’s 3-year-old Finnegan’s Wake finished second in Arlington Park’s Secretariat Stakes (G1) in his most recent outing.
The TVG Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) completes the stakes offerings from Belmont Park at 5:46 p.m. Florida-breds Ron the Greek and Flat Out will face Fort Larned, Hymn Book, Stay Thirsty and Ruler on Ice in the $1 million, 1 ¼-mile test. Fort Larned may have a tactical advantage over his Sunshine State foes today. Ron the Greek and Flat Out do their best running from off the pace, while Fort Larned has enough positional speed to either grab the lead and set the pace or sit close through the early stages. In a race that consists of mostly horses that prefer to come from off the pace, Fort Larned and a runner like San Pablo, who does not boasts the accomplishments of his rivals, have a slight edge over the closers. That being stated, Ron the Greek and Flat Out have the class to make an impact on the race despite likely pace scenarios.