September 27, 2009

What Gets My Juices Flowing?

You want to know what gets my juices flowing? A weekend full of major stakes races with all kinds of Breeders’ Cup implications and even some eclipse award ramifications. As a pure fan of thoroughbred horse racing, nothing is better than the week of anticipation leading up to all these major races.

Belmont has five Grade 1 stakes on Saturday topped by the Jockey Club Gold Cup. This race features a showdown between 3-year-olds Summer Bird and Quality Road and the classy older horse Macho Again. The 3-year-old championship could well be decided by a victory in the Jockey Club. The Joe Hirsch Turf Classic sees Gio Ponti make his last prep for the BC Turf as he tries to annex his fifth consecutive Grade 1 win in his march to an eclipse award. It will not be easy though, as the son of Tale of the Cat will be making his first lifetime start at a mile and a half against a loaded field headed by defending champ, Grand Couturier. In the Beldame, the Godolphin Stable tries to keep the train rolling with a two-pronged attack of Music Note and Cocoa Beach, who both take another step towards regaining their star status of last year. Standing in their way will be the formidable Icon Project. The Flower Bowl looks to be a wide open affair with several mares looking like they have a chance to win here and then repeat at Santa Anita. The Vosburgh is always an interesting affair and features Munnings back at his favorite racetrack against the ultra classy 6-year-old Fabulous Strike.

Also on Saturday, Philadelphia Park runs the rich Cotillion Stakes with the dazzling Careless Jewel making her first start since her tour de force in the Alabama. Hoosier Park hosts it’s best race, the Indiana Derby, featuring a horse very much on my radar, the Pennsylvania Derby hero Gone Astray. In my neck of the woods, Hawthorne Race Course will renew the Hawthorne Gold Cup with a field of older horses hoping to prove that they belong with the big boys.

Things will get going early on Sunday as the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe will be run in Paris. Will Sea the Stars be in the race? That is almost as important a question as to who will actually win the race. The condition of the turf should provide the answer. Sunday also has some big offerings in the States, as Santa Anita runs the final local juvenile preps for the Breeders’ Cup with the Norfolk and the Oak Leaf. Both races produced Breeders’ Cup champions last year and with the BC at Santa Anita again this year, they are no doubt the most important prep races for the Juvenile and the Juvenile Fillies. In the Norfolk, Lookin at Lucky can solidify his favoritism for the BC and in the Oak Leaf Blind Luck will step up to challenge the more proven Mi Sueno. Belmont counters with the Kelso which should include some of America’s best hopes to win back the Breeders’ Cup Mile. I am most anxious to see the very promising colts Justenuffhumor and Courageous Cat square off in an acid test for both.

I will preview these races in more detail later in the week, but for now, let the anticipation begin. This should be a big week for all fans of thoroughbred horse racing…I know I’m excited!


NetworkEmpowerment said...

Nice overview of next weekend! I can't wait. I think the Gold Cup is mainly between SB and Macho Again. Music Note vs Icon Project will be fantastic. What a weekend in heaven!