Weekend Lineup: Bonanza Of Breeders’ Cup Preps

This blockbuster weekend of graded stakes racing features a total of 11 “Win and You’re In” challenge races for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, including stakes at Newmarket and Nakayama Racecourses.

In the United States, the action kicks off at Belmont Park with the G1 Vosburgh featuring last year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint runner-up Imperial Hint. The 1-5 favorite will take on a field of six others over seven furlongs, with the next-closest choice Mr. Crow at 5-1.

Up next is the Joe Hirsch Turf Cup with Arlington Million winner Robert Bruce leading a field of eight which also includes overseas shipper Teodoro with Ryan Moore aboard. The top three finishers from the Manhattan, Spring Quality, Sadler’s Joy, and Hi Happy will all line up in the Joe Hirsch, as will the sophomore winner of the Secretariat Carrick for trainer Tom Morley.

In the Jockey Club Gold Cup, Diversify is the heavy favorite to lead the race from gate-to-wire. Sophomores Mendelssohn and Gronkowski are also among the eight scheduled to start, as are Dubai World Cup winner Thunder Snow and fan-favorite Patch.

Across the country, the G1 American Pharoah kicks off the graded action at Santa Anita Park. In the five-horse field of talented juveniles, trainers Bob Baffert and Jerry Hollendorfer account for the top three choices in Game Winner, Gunmetal Gray and Rowayton.

The G1 Chandelier for juvenile fillies offers an intriguing match-up between young talents Bellafina and Brill, trained by Simon Callaghan and Jerry Hollendorfer respectively, and the Bob Baffert-trained Mother Mother.

Santa Anita will move over to the turf for the G1 Rodeo Drive, featuring a rematch between Vasilika and Cambodia, the one-two finishers last out in the G2 John C. Mabee Stakes.

Saturday’s Santa Anita action closes out with the G1 Awesome Again Stakes, in which the top Southern California candidate for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Accelerate, looks to continue his G1 win streak. He will taken on rivals like West Coast, last year’s 3-year-old champion, and The Lieutenant, half-brother to recently retired Triple Crown winner Justify.

Later Saturday evening, a stakes race at Churchill Downs has drawn a talented field including multiple Grade 1 winner Mind Your Biscuits. The Lukas Classic also features local starter Honorable Duty, and intriguing longshot Toast of New York, the former second-place finisher in the Breeders’ Cup Classic who makes his first start as a gelding at seven years of age.

On Sunday, fillies and mares will try to earn their place in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff in the G1 Zenyatta. Abel Tasman leads a six-horse field for Baffert, who will also saddle Vale Dori.

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