Month Ahead: June 2012
Zenyatta winning the 2010 Vanity Handicap, one of June's excellent races (photo: Eclipse Sportswire)

Sometimes the month of June rolls around during the racing season like most other summer months. Other times, 33 times to be exact, the possibility of a Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes brings a groundswell of anticipation as the calendar turns to June. This year is one of those years after I’ll Have Another swept the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in May. On June 9th, as many as 100,000 fans are expected to pack Belmont Park with the hopes of seeing history. I’ll Have Another will attempt to become the 12th Triple Crown winner and the first since Affirmed in 1978.

The Belmont Stakes is not the only big race that will be run in New York on June 9th. A total of five graded stakes races will be run prior to the Belmont Stakes. While the races will be broadcast on NBC and the NBC Sports Network, Belmont Stakes day offers the best opportunity to see a Triple Crown race live. Reserved seats are sold out but general admission tickets are only $10 and, if you get there early enough, you might get a great spot to watch the races. New York’s best day of racing is also one of the best bargains in all sports.

It might seem like I’ll Have Another’s try for the Triple Crown is the only event in Thoroughbred racing this month, but, of course, there is plenty of important racing from coast to coast. Here is what we have to look forward to in the month of June:

Week 1

June 2
Churchill Downs continues its spring meet, which will end in July, with three Grade 3 stakes races, including the Aristides and Winning Colors for sprinters and the Early Times Mint Julep for filly and mare turf runners.

Hollywood Park has two graded stakes: the Grade 2 Californian for older horses and the Grade 3 Affirmed Handicap for 3-year-olds.

Colonial Downs in New Kent, Virginia, about 30 minutes outside of Richmond, will open for its summer meet. Colonial is known for its turf racing and runs all of its stakes races except for one on the turf. The highlight of the meet is the Grade 2 Virginia Derby for 3-years-olds in July.

June 8
Belmont Park – The prelude to Belmont Stakes day will have two graded stakes at Belmont Park, including the Grade 2 Brooklyn Handicap, a 1 ½-miles contest for older horses. Also on the card is the Grade 3 Jaipur, a 6-furlong sprint on the turf.

June 9
Belmont Park – Belmont Stakes day has the potential to be a major historical moment in racing history. We will be celebrating or lamenting I’ll Have Another soon after the 6:35 post time for this year’s Belmont Stakes. Prior to the Belmont, four graded stakes including two Grade 1 races will be run. The Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Manhattan Stakes and the Grade 1 Just a Game Stakes are the big races for both male and female turf horses. The Grade 2 Woody Stephens and Grade 2 True North Stakes will be for the sprinters. The first race of the day is scheduled for 11:35 ET.

Week 2

June 16
The Grade 1 Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs for older horses will be the last Grade 1 of the spring meet in Louisville.

Hollywood Park will host the Grade 1 Vanity Handicap for older fillies and mares. The great Zenyatta is a three-time winner of the Vanity (2008 to 2010). Blind Luck, 3-year-old filly champion of 2010, won last year’s edition.

June 17
Golden Gate Fields in Berkeley, California closes its winter/spring meet.

Week 3

June 21
Pleasanton at the Alameda County Fair launches this year’s racing on the California fair circuit. Pleasanton is one of six tracks that make up the fair circuit in California. The fair tracks will run throughout the summer and into the fall.

June 23
Churchill Downs will host an early-season graded stakes for 2-year-olds: the Grade 3 Debutante for fillies at six furlongs.

Belmont Park and Hollywood Park will both have graded stakes for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles. New York has the Grade 1 Mother Goose and California the Grade 2 Hollywood Oaks.

June 24
The oldest stakes race in Canada, the Queen’s Plate, will be run for the 153rd time at Woodbine Race Course in Toronto. The race is restricted to 3-year-old Canadian-breds and is the first race in Canada’s Triple Crown.

Week 4

June 29-30
Prairie Meadows in Altoona, Iowa hosts the biggest two days on the state’s racing calendar. Nearly $1 million in stakes purses will be awarded Friday and Saturday. On Friday, three ungraded stakes–the Iowa Sprint, Iowa Distaff, and Saylorville–will be the feature races. On Saturday, three Grade 3 stakes will be on the bill: the Cornhusker for older horses, the Iowa Derby for 3-year-olds, and the Iowa Oaks for 3-year-old fillies.

June 30
Churchill Downs follows its 2-year-old stakes race for fillies on June 23 with the Grade 2 Bashford Manor for 2-year-old colts.

Hollywood Park will have two Grade 1 races: the Shoemaker Mile on turf and the Triple Bend for sprinters. The winner of the Shoemaker Mile qualifies for the Breeders’ Cup Mile in November as part of the Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” series.

Belmont Park has the historic Grade 2 Dwyer Stakes for 3-year-olds.

June will be a great month of racing throughout the country. While the Belmont Stakes day telecast is the only one on a major network (NBC) this month, you can catch all of the major stakes races mentioned here on TVG or HRTV. Another way to watch the races is to open a wagering account with Twinspires (promo code: helloracefans). They provide live streams from all the tracks for those who bet on their platform. Good luck!

Full Schedule of June Stakes Races

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