The Month Ahead: August 2013
By Kevin Martin, Hello Race Fans Contributing Editor
We are in the thick of racing’s high season as the calendar flips to August. This month, California, Chicago, and New York all card the headlining races of their summer meets in the Pacific Classic, Arlington Million, and Travers Stakes. Those three races are just three of 14 Grade 1 races scheduled in a month that will include a total of 39 graded stakes at U.S. tracks from coast to coast. This month, the best horses in training will be racing, including this year’s Kentucky Derby winner and the reigning Horse of the Year.
Saratoga will officially celebrate the 150th anniversary of thoroughbred racing in the upstate New York town on August 3rd. Later in the month, familiar names from the 2013 Triple Crown series will start in the Travers Stakes. In the Pacific Classic, California superstar Game on Dude will try to add the big race at Del Mar to his already impressive career resume. The Arlington Million on the turf in Chicago will draw a strong field of turf runners that could include the reigning Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Little Mike.
August is shaping up to be a memorable month of thoroughbred racing. Here is a closer look:
The first Saturday of the month has two Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup qualifiers in California and New York. The Clement L. Hirsch at Del Mar for fillies and mares is expected to include Byrama, winner of Hollywood Park’s Grade 1 Vanity. The Hirsch winner will qualify for the BC Ladies Classic. The winner of the 1 â…›-miles Grade 1 Whitney Stakes will earn a place in the gate for the BC Classic. Last year’s Classic winner, Fort Larned, will headline a solid group of older horses in the 2013 Whitney.
At Mountaineer Racetrack in New Cumberland, West Virginia, 3-year-olds will contest the Grade 2 West Virginia Derby, the only graded stakes on the track’s schedule. Overanalyze, winner of the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby and 11th place finisher in the Kentucky Derby, is expected to start for trainer Todd Pletcher.
Saratoga will card the Grade 1 Vanderbilt Stakes for sprinters. Delauney, the former claiming horse who has won eight of his last nine starts, is scheduled to make his first career Grade 1 start in this year’s Vanderbilt.
At Del Mar, the 2-year-olds will have the Grade 2 Best Pal at 6 1/2 furlongs.
Del Mar offers a rare Wednesday graded stakes with the Grade 2 Sorrento Stakes for 2-year-old fillies.
The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in Saratoga inaugurates the 2013 class of inductees: jockey Calvin Borel and horses Housebuster, Invasor, Lure, McDynamo and Tuscalee. The induction ceremony will take place in the morning across the street from the racetrack in the Fasig-Tipton sales pavilion. In the afternoon, Saratoga hosts a Grade 2 turf race for 3-year-olds aptly named the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame.
The reigning Horse of the Year, Wise Dan, is scheduled make his fourth start of 2013 in the Grade 2 Fourstardave at Saratoga. He is currently riding a seven-race winning streak that includes the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Mile.
Ellis Park, the beautiful track along the banks of the Ohio River, headlines its Saturday with the Grade 3 Gardenia for fillies and mares. This year’s field includes 2012 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint winner Groupie Doll.
The Grade 2 La Jolla will be run at Del Mar on the turf for 3-year-olds. Gervinho and Rising Legend, the winners of the two divisions of the Oceanside Stakes on Del Mar’s opening day, could meet in the La Jolla.
Les Bois Park, a small track in Garden City, Idaho, will card five stakes restricted to Idaho-breds.
In Minnesota, Canterbury Park, will have two $75,000 stakes for 3-year-olds bred in the state.
Saratoga hosts a doubleheader of Grade 2 stakes for 2-year-olds with the Saratoga Special and the Adirondack. My Miss Aurelia, the Eclipse champion 2-year-old filly, won the Adirondack in 2011. Also in 2011, Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags won the Saratoga Special.
The filly and mare turf runners will be in the spotlight at Del Mar for the Grade 2 John C. Mabee.
A huge Saturday of racing with six Grade 1 races scheduled at Del Mar, Arlington Park, and Saratoga.
The biggest day on the Chicago racing calendar at Arlington Park will be headlined by the Arlington Million at 1 1/4 miles on the turf. The winner will qualify for the Breeders’ Cup Turf. Last year’s winner of both the Million and the BC Turf, Little Mike will try to become the second two-time Million winner since the great John Henry. The Arlington Million is one of two Breeders’ Cup qualifiers on the card. The winner of the Grade 1 Beverly D will earn a spot in this year’s BC Filly and Mare Turf. Also on the card is the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes on turf for 3-year-olds at 1 1/4 miles. WGN & WGN America will broadcast the Million starting at 6pm ET, check your local listings.
The Grade 1 Alabama Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Saratoga will feature Kentucky Oaks and Coaching Club American Oaks winner Princess of Sylmar. Saratoga will also have the Grade 1 Sword Dancer at 1 1/2 miles on the turf. Grade 1 winner Boisterous heads a full field for the Sword Dancer. You can watch the Alabama and Sword Dancer on NBC Sports Network from 5pm – 6pm ET.
The Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks for 3-year-old fillies will be run over the turf in California. The Del Mar Oaks is one of four Grade 1 turf races in the U.S. in 2013 restricted to fillies.
Emerald Downs in Auburn, Washington has the Grade 3 Longacres Mile for older horses. The race has been a staple in the state of Washington at three different tracks since 1935. It has been run at Emerald Downs since 1996 and is the only graded stakes race in the state.
Monmouth Park will card the Grade 3 Phillip Iselin Stakes for older horses at 1 1/8 miles.
The Grade 2 Woodford Reserve Lake Placid will top the bill at Saratoga for 3-year-old fillies on the turf.
Saratoga kicks off Travers weekend with a Grade 1 Friday feature, the Ballerina Stakes at 7 furlongs for fillies and mares. The Ballerina is a qualifying race for the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.
The Grade 1 Travers Stakes headlines the biggest day of summer racing in the state of New York. The race dubbed “The Midsummer Derby” is likely to have Kentucky Derby winner Orb and Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice. Ten length winner of the Haskell in July, Verrazano, is also among the possible starters according to his trainer Todd Pletcher. A pair of Grade 1 races at 7 furlongs are also on the card: the King’s Bishop for 3-year-olds and the Test Stakes restricted to 3-year-old fillies. The Grade 2 Ballston Spa on the turf for fillies and mares rounds out a great day of racing at Saratoga. The Travers and King’s Bishop will be broadcast nationally on NBC from 4:30-6:00 Eastern.
The winner of the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap for older horses will earn an entry into this year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf at Santa Anita Park.
The most significant day of summer racing in New York is followed by the most significant day of summer racing in California at Del Mar. The Grade 1 Pacific Classic at 1 1/4 miles for older horses will top the bill and could include a rematch of last year’s first and second place finishers Dullahan and Game On Dude. The 6-year-old Game On Dude has earned $5 million in his career and has won the Hollywood Gold Cup and Santa Anita Handicap, but he has never won the Pacific Classic. The winner will earn a place in this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic. The Grade 2 Pat O’Brien Stakes, also part of the card, will be run at 7 furlongs for older horses. The winner of the Pat O’Brien will qualify for the BC Sprint. The Grade 2 Del Mar Mile over the turf for older horses will precede the two BC qualifying races.
The reigning Eclipse champion older female, Royal Delta, is among the possible starters in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign at Saratoga. Royal Delta finished second in last year’s edition. The winner will earn a place in the gate for the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic.
The Grade 3 Cliff Hanger Stakes for older turf horses headlines the day at Monmouth Park.
Arlington Park will have the Grade 3 Washington Park Handicap for older horses. The race is named for the former Chicago track at which it was run for the first time in 1926.
The 2-year-old fillies will have one of their first opportunities of the season to add a Grade 1 to their young careers with the Del Mar Debutante at 7 furlongs.
Saratoga will card a triple-header of graded stakes on the final Saturday of its racing season. The Grade 1 Woodward for older horses will be the feature. Two of the last four editions of the Woodward were won by females (Rachel Alexandra and Havre de Grace). Also on the card is the Grade 1 Forego for the sprinters at 7 furlongs and the Bernard Baruch Handicap for turf horses going 1 1/16 miles.
Good luck and enjoy an excellent month of racing!