The Month Ahead: October 2012
By Kevin Martin, Hello Race Fans Contributing Editor

As the calendar flips to October, much of the racing chatter will revolve around the Breeders’ Cup, which will be run this year at Santa Anita Park in California on the first weekend of November. Leading up to the big weekend, October will bring over a dozen Breeders’ Cup Challenge races packed into the first two weeks, with winners earning entry into the BC. Spots in the BC Sprint and Ladies Classic as well as the Juvenile and Turf races will be earned for the winners of “challenge” races to be run at four different racetracks in the United States and Canada.

In addition to the races with immediate implications for the Breeders’ Cup, October is packed with 2-year-old stakes races that could include some of the stars of the 2013 Triple Crown season. California, New York, and Kentucky will all host graded stakes for 2-year-olds.

This month has a number of state-bred stakes days, where the races are restricted to horses bred in a particular state. Among the more popular of these is Cal Cup day for California-breds at Santa Anita on October 13th. Maryland and New York will have their state-bred stakes days at Laurel Park and Belmont Park respectively in October.

Last, and certainly not least, Keeneland Race Course opens for business on October 5th. The Keeneland fall meet is among the premier race meets in the country and will feature a total of 15 graded stakes over the course of its three-week meeting.

The racing season is near its end, but we have much to look forward to in October!

Week 1

October 5
Opening day of the fall meeting at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Kentucky. The opening day feature will be the Grade 1 Darley Alcibiades Stakes for 2-year-old fillies. It is the first of nine graded stakes for 2-year-olds scheduled around the country during the month of October.

October 6
Belmont Park cards the final Grade 1 races of its fall meet. Two of the Grade 1s are for 2-year-olds, one for the colts and the other for fillies. The winner of the Champagne Stakes will earn a place in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. The winner of the Frizette Stakes will earn entry to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. The Jamaica Handicap for 3-year-olds is the third Grade 1 on the card for Belmont’s first Saturday of October.

The first Saturday at Keeneland will bring three Breeders’ Cup Challenge races. The Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile winner will earn a berth in this year’s BC Mile. The Grade 1 Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity for 2-year-olds is a BC Juvenile qualifier. The last of the trifecta of Saturday’s BC Challenge races is the Grade 2 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes for a spot in the BC Sprint. The Grade 1 First Lady on the turf for fillies and mares and the Grade 3 Woodford Stakes round out a huge day of stakes racing at Keeneland.

The biggest day of racing at Hoosier Park in Anderson, Indiana will feature the Grade 2 Indiana Derby and the Grade 2 Indiana Oaks. The undercard will have a pair of $100,000 stakes for older horses and five stakes races for Indiana-breds.

Santa Anita Park will have the Grade 1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship (formerly known as the Ancient Title) with the winner earning a place in the BC Sprint.

Laurel Park in Laurel, Maryland will card nine stakes races restricted to the progeny of Maryland-based sires.

October 7
Keeneland follows its five-stakes Saturday with two more stakes on Sunday, the Grade 1 Juddmonte Spinster for fillies and mares and the Grade 3 Bourbon Stakes for 2-year-olds on the turf. The winners will qualify for the BC Ladies Classic and the BC Juvenile Turf respectively.

Week 2

October 11
The Thursday Keeneland card will have its eighth Breeders’ Cup qualifying race run during the first week of the fall meeting. The winner of the Grade 3 Jessamine Stakes for 2-year-olds will earn entry into the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf. The Jessamine is the last BC Challenge race at a U.S. track in 2012.

October 13
Santa Anita Park hosts Cal Cup day, a series of five races for horses bred in California.

Keeneland will have the Grade 1 QEII Challenge Cup Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.

Belmont Park hosts a pair of Grade 3 races on the turf: the Athenia restricted to fillies and mares and the Knickerbocker for all horses 3-years-old and up.

October 14
The final three Breeders’ Cup Challenge races of 2012 will be held at Woodbine in Ontario, Canada. Entries into the BC Turf, BC Filly and Mare Turf, and the BC Turf Sprint will go to the winners of the Pattison Canadian International Stakes, the E.P. Taylor Stakes, and the Nearctic Stakes respectively.

Week 3

October 18
Golden Gate Fields in Berkeley, California will open for its fall race meet.

October 20
Belmont Park hosts New York Showcase Day, with seven stakes races restricted to horses bred in the state of New York.

Charles Town Races in West Virginia will have nine stakes races for West Virginia state-breds on its Saturday evening card. The $500,000 West Virginia Breeders’ Classic for 3-years-old and up caps one of the richest days for state-breds run in the United States.

Keeneland will have the Lexus Raven Run, a Grade 2 sprint for 3-year-old fillies.

Santa Anita Park has the Grade 3 Ken Maddy Stakes, a sprint over its unique downhill turf course for horses 3-years-old and up.

Week 4

October 27
The final day of racing at Keeneland will feature the Grade 2 Fayette Stakes for older horses on the Polytrack.

The final Saturday of the fall meet at Belmont Park will have two Grade 3 races: the Bold Ruler at seven furlongs for older horses and the Turnback the Alarm for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles.

October 28
Opening day of the Churchill Downs fall race meet includes a pair of 2-year-old stakes: the Grade 2 Pocahontas Stakes for fillies and the Iroquois Stakes for colts.

Enjoy the great racing in October, but don’t forget to save some gambling money this month for the Breeders’ Cup in November. Best of luck!

Full Schedule of October Stakes Races

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