Month Ahead: November 2012
By Kevin Martin, Hello Race Fans Contributing Editor
The madness that comes with the lead-in to the Breeders’ Cup at the beginning of the month and a power outage at the HRF publishing command center in New York City forced us to delay our Month Ahead feature. The rest of the month ahead — after two huge days of racing during the first weekend — is relatively light. The majority of the graded stakes races for 2012 are over but the racing season pushes forward.
This month brings quality racing to Aqueduct Racetrack in New York, Churchill Downs in Kentucky, and Hollywood Park in California. The long weekend that follows Thanksgiving has a series of significant stakes races capped by the prestigious Cigar Mile at Aqueduct and the historic Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs.
Here is what’s on tap for the month:
Hollywood Park opens for its abbreviated fall meeting. The meet will end on December 16th.
Perhaps the slowest Saturday that we have seen on the U.S. racing calendar in many months has just two graded stakes, the Grade 3 Long Island Handicap on the turf at Aqueduct and the Grade 3 Cardinal Handicap at Churchill Downs.
Calder Race Course in Miami, Florida will have eight stakes races for Florida-breds with purses that total $1 million.
Delta Downs in Vinton, Louisiana, offers one of the richest purses for 2-year-olds with the $1 million Grade 3 Delta Downs Jackpot. Also on the card is the Grade 3 Delta Downs Princess for 2-year-old fillies. The card will have seven supporting stakes in addition to the two big races for the 2-year-olds.
The Grade 3 Discovery Handicap at Aqueduct and the Grade 2 Mrs. Revere at Churchill for fillies will be among the last opportunities for the 3-year-olds to pick up graded stakes earnings in age-restricted races. Churchill Downs will also host the Grade 3 Commonwealth Turf for 3-year-olds on the turf.
Thanksgiving Day does not close American racetracks. In fact, it brings some great racing and the opening of one of the country’s historic horse racing venues.
The Thanksgiving feature at Aqueduct will be the Grade 3 Fall Highweight Handicap for sprinters. Churchill Downs hosts the Fall City Handicap for fillies and mares, run for the first time in 1875. Hollywood Park will have the Grade 3 Hollywood Prevue at seven furlongs for 2-year-olds.
The Fair Grounds in New Orleans, Louisiana opens for its long meet that will run until the end of March.
Black Friday brings three graded stakes, including the Grade 1 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs, which was won by Wise Dan in 2011. Wise Dan is the current favorite to win the 2012 Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year. The filly and mares will have the Grade 2 Go for Wand at Aqueduct. Hollywood Park hosts the Grade 2 Citation Handicap for turf horses.
The final Saturday of the month is the best day of racing outside of the Breeders’ Cup with a total of nine graded stakes, six of those for the 2-year-olds.
The final Grade 1 stakes on the New York racing calendar will be run at Aqueduct with the Cigar Mile for horses 3-years-old and up on the dirt and the Gazelle Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. Triple Crown hopefuls will race in the Grade 2 Remsen for 2-year-old colts. The 2-year-old fillies will have the Grade 2 Demoiselle Stakes.
Churchill Downs will have two races for the 2-year-olds, including the Grade 2 Golden Rod Stakes and the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club. The super filly Rachel Alexandra crushed the field in the 2008 Golden Rod. The 2010 Kentucky Derby winner, Super Saver, won the 2009 Kentucky Jockey Club.
The California 2-year-old colts and fillies will have the opportunity to run over the turf in the Grade 3 Generous Stakes and Grade 3 Miesque Stakes at Hollywood Park.
Calder Race Course in Miami has the Grade 2 W.L. McKnight on the turf and the Grade 3 Fred W. Hooper over the dirt course.
The final day of racing at Churchill Downs for 2012 is headlined by the Grade 2 River City Handicap on the turf.
Hollywood Park has a pair of Grade 1 races on the turf. A mainstay at Hollywood Park since 1938, the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby for 3-year-olds counts racing legends Round Table and Affirmed among its winners. The Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes is also on the card for filly and mares 3-years-old and up.
Turfway Park opens for business in Florence, Kentucky.
Good luck and enjoy this month’s racing.