The Month Ahead: July 2013
By Kevin Martin, Hello Race Fans Contributing Editor
July is a great month to be a racing fan. Saratoga and Del Mar, two of the most anticipated meets in North American racing, will open for business this month. Saratoga will open on July 19th and mark the 150th anniversary of Thoroughbred racing in the upstate New York town. The grand old racetrack in New York will be celebrating with special events throughout their six-week meeting. Del Mar will have its opening day on July 17th. Last year’s opener brought a record-breaking crowd of over 47,000 to the track in Southern California.
The month also brings what will be the final running of the historic Hollywood Gold Cup at Hollywood Park, which will cease all racing operations at the end of the year. Hollywood will have its final summer day of racing ever on July 14th.
July is a month packed with high-class racing from coast to coast. Many of the the best runners in training will make a start in one of a dozen Grade 1 races on the schedule this month. Here is a closer look at the racing schedule in July:
Woodbine Race Course in Toronto celebrates a Canadian national holiday with the running of the Grade 3 Dominion Day Stakes for older horses.
Gulfstream Park opens for its first-ever summer meeting. The track in Hallendale, Florida will have racing from July until November.
Belmont, Hollywood, and Monmouth all headline their Independence Day racing cards with a graded stakes. Belmont has the 1-mile Grade 3 Poker Handicap over the turf for older horses, Hollywood the Grade 2 Swaps Stakes for 3-year-olds, and Monmouth the Grade 3 Jersey Shore Stakes at 6 furlongs for 3-year-olds.
Hollywood Park will host its final running of the prestigious Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup, a race that has been on the racing calendar since the track first opened in 1938. Seabiscuit won the inaugural running, becoming the first of many legendary horses to win the Gold Cup.
Calder Race Course in Miami, Florida has the biggest race day of its season with the Summit of Speed, a day that attracts some of the country’s best sprinters. The card will feature four graded stakes at 6 furlongs, highlighted by the Grade 1 Princess Rooney for fillies and mares. The Grade 2 Smile Sprint Handicap for older horses is part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series. The winner will earn a berth in the BC Sprint at Santa Anita Park in November. Reigning sprint champion Trinniberg is among the possible starters for the Smile. Two Grade 3 sprints for 3-year-olds, the Carry Back Stakes and the Azalea Stakes for fillies, round out a terrific day of racing in southern Florida.
Belmont Park will have the running of the historic Grade 2 Suburban Handicap for older horses at 1 1/8 miles. The 3-year-old colts will have the Grade 2 Dwyer Stakes, a race that could produce a runner or two for this year’s Travers Stakes in August at Saratoga.
Monmouth Park will have the first of two Grade 1 races on its schedule in July with the United Nations Stakes at 1 3/8 miles over the turf. Last year’s surprise winner of the Breeders’ Cup Turf, Little Mike, is expected to start. The winner of the United Nations will earn a place in the gate for the 2013 BC Turf. Also on the card at Monmouth is the Salvator Mile for older horses.
The Grade 1 Queen’s Plate Stakes, the oldest active race in North America, will be run for the 154th time at Woodbine in Toronto. The 1 1/4 miles race is restricted to Canadian-bred 3-year-olds and is the first leg of Canada’s Triple Crown.
Ellis Park, the beautiful track on the banks of the Ohio River, opens for its summer meet. The track is located in Henderson, Kentucky, just south of Evansville, Indiana.
Arlington Park, north of Chicago, has four Grade 3 stakes races scheduled on its turf course. The Arlington Handicap and the Stars and Stripes are open to older horses. The Modesty Handicap is for fillies and mares and the American Derby is restricted to 3-year-olds. Watch for horses that run well in these stakes to return for Arlington Million Day, a huge day of turf racing next month.
The Grade 1 Man o’ War over the Belmont Stakes turf will cap the last Saturday of racing in New York before the show moves north to Saratoga. Secretariat won the 1973 Man o’ War in his final U.S. start.
The final Saturday of the Hollywood Park meet brings the Grade 1 American Oaks for 3-year-old fillies and the Grade 2 A Gleam Handicap for fillies and mares. The A Gleam is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge race with the winner earning a spot in the BC Filly and Mare Sprint.
A doubleheader of graded turf stakes caps the race day at Colonial Downs in Virginia. The Grade 2 Virginia Derby is open to 3-year-olds and the Grade 3 Virginia Oaks is restricted to 3-year-old fillies. Turf superstars Kitten’s Joy, English Channel, and Gio Ponti are among the winners of the Virginia Derby.
Delaware Park has the first of its two big weekends with the Grade 2 Delaware Oaks for 3-year-old fillies. Hollywood Oaks winner Doinghardtimeagain is among the possible starters. Her trainer, Jerry Hollendorfer, won the 2010 Delaware Oaks with Eclipse filly champion Blind Luck.
The final day of summer racing ever at Hollywood Park will be headlined by the appropriately named Sunset Handicap, a Grade 2 event at 1 1/4 miles over the turf.
Del Mar opens its summer meeting. The track, located in the town of Del Mar north of San Diego, is adjacent to the Pacific Ocean which is the reason for its well-known slogan “Where the Surf Meets the Turf.”
Opening day at Saratoga, celebrating the 150th anniversary of racing in the town in 2013, is headlined by the Grade 3 Schuylerville Stakes for 2-year-olds. The first day of racing also has the Grade 3 James Marvin Stakes for older horses at 7 furlongs.
Delaware Park has the highlight of its race meeting with the Grade 1 Delaware Handicap. Last year’s Eclipse winning older female, Royal Delta, won the 2012 “Del Cap” and is a possible starter this year. Tiz Miss Sue, recent winner of the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps in New York, finished second in last year’s edition and is expected to be back again in 2013.
The first Saturday of 2013 at Saratoga includes the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks for 3-year-old fillies and the Grade 3 Shuvee for fillies and mares.
The Grade 1 Eddie Read Stakes on the turf headlines the race day at Del Mar.
Grade 2 stakes races cap the Sunday racing at Del Mar and Saratoga. In New York, the feature will be the historic Sanford Stakes for 2-year-olds. Man o’ War’s lone career loss came in the 1919 Sanford. The San Clemente for 3-year-old fillies on the turf tops the bill in California.
Saratoga hosts two Grade 1 races, the Diana Stakes for fillies and mares on the turf and the Prioress Stakes for 3-year-old filly sprinters. The Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes for 3-year-olds, also on the card, could include one or more of this year’s Triple Crown winners who are all expected to race at Saratoga this summer.
The Grade 2 San Diego Handicap at Del Mar will include a few horses likely to return for the prestigious Grade 1 Pacific Classic next month.
ThistleDown has the sole graded stakes run in the state of Ohio, the Grade 3 Ohio Derby for 3-year-olds
The biggest day of racing in New Jersey brings the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational to Monmouth Park. Along with the Travers at Saratoga, the Haskell is a primary summer target for the country’s best 3-year-olds. The highly touted Verrazano is among the probable starters for this year’s Haskell. Monmouth will have four other graded stakes on the undercard for Haskell Day.
The winner of the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Stakes at Del Mar will earn a place in the gate for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Last year’s winner, Amazombie, won the 2011 BC Sprint.
A Monday graded stakes at Saratoga, the Grade 2 Honorable Miss Handicap, will be a 6-furlong sprint for fillies and mares.
Fort Erie in Ontario will host the Prince of Wales Stakes, the second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown for 3-year-olds bred in Canada.
Good luck and enjoy a great month of racing!