Weekend Lineup Presented By Santa Anita Ship & Win: Summer’s Swansong

Closing weekend from Del Mar’s summer meet and two of the final three days of racing from the rich Kentucky Downs oval are among the upcoming highlights on Saturday and Sunday, with a pair of “Win and You’re In” Breeders’ Cup Challenge races on the docket as well.

Both Challenge contests are at Kentucky Downs on Saturday, part of a card featuring six graded stakes races at the all-turf boutique racing festival. The day’s highlight is the Grade 2 Kentucky Turf Cup, a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Turf, featuring four Grade 1 winners and a trio of Grade 2 victors.

Closing weekend at Del Mar is topped by a pair of Grade 1 races for 2-year-olds: the Debutante for the fillies on Saturday, and the Futurity for the colts on Sunday. Perhaps the most exciting entrant in either race is Tamara, the juvenile daughter of champion racemare Beholder, taking on the Debutante field for trainer Richard Mandella.

Saturday is also Virginia Derby day at Colonial Downs, featuring six stakes worth a combined $1.3 million; while Woodbine offers a pair of graded turf stakes in the G2 Canadian and G3 Singspiel.

Three additional Breeders’ Cup berths will be on the line in Ireland Saturday; the headlining matchup is between King of Steel and Auguste Rodin in the Irish Champion Stakes. Two more berths will be on offer at The Curragh on Sunday to round off Irish Champions Weekend.


4:40 p.m. – Grade 2 Franklin-Simpson Stakes at Kentucky Downs

Saturday’s seventh running of the $1 million Franklin-Simpson Stakes at  Kentucky Downs is an equine battle of the sexes. However, trainer Wesley Ward, whose filly Playlist is taking on eleven 3-year-old colts in the 6 1/2 furlong sprint, doesn’t think it’s that big of a deal. Ward has enjoyed Kentucky Downs success when running fillies vs. colts in the past. He won the first two runnings of the $500,000 Juvenile Turf Sprint Stakes by beating the boys with Moonlight Romance in 2018 and Cambria in 2019.

Playlist has won three of four starts this year for owners Westerberg Limited, Mrs. John Magnier, Jonathan Poulin, Derrick Smith and Michael B. Tabor. The daughter of Uncle Mo is on a three-race winning streak and will be making her stakes debut with Hall of Famer John Velazquez in the saddle.

Ward won the inaugural running of the Franklin-Simpson with Master Merion in 2017.

Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen watched Mike McCaty’s Private Creed win the $500,000 Juvenile Sprint at Kentucky Downs last year. He is hoping the son of Jimmy Creed can add another trophy from the FanDuel Meet at Kentucky Downs.

Private Creed won the Juvenile Sprint at 6 ½-furlongs, the same distance as the Franklin-Simpson. He is winless this year in five starts but is coming off a rallying second-place finish in the Mahony at 5 1/2-furlongs at Saratoga on Aug. 13. Private Creed, who has won three of seven career starts on firm turf, will be ridden by Joel Rosario.

Private Creed went off at 11-1 odds in the Mahony and his upset bid was thwarted by another longshot in Closethegame Sugar, who is co-owned (along with Edwin Diaz) and trained by Adam Rice. This lightly raced son of Girvin has won two of three career starts and was second in the other try. Jose Lezcano gets the call to ride.

Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., fresh off his fifth riding title at Saratoga, will ride the Rusty Arnold-trained Sweet Cherry Pie for the first time for owner BBN Racing. The son of Twirling Candy will be making his grass debut after two wins in five starts on dirt.

BBN Racing will also be represented by Mo Stash for trainer Vicki Oliver. The early speed horse finished sixth in her last try, the Grade 2 Secretariat at Colonial on Aug. 12. The son of Mo Town gets Rafael Bejarano in the saddle.

Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher will be looking for a better effort from Starlight Racing and Harrell Ventures’ Bat Flip in this spot. When last seen, the son of Good Magic finished eighth of nine in the Grade 2 National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame at Saratoga, which was run over good turf.

That was his first start since November. On firm ground, he has won two of three. Hall of Famer Javier Castellano will ride.

Defending riding champion Tyler Gaffalione will be the pilot of Talla Racing, Rockingham Ranch and David A. Bernsen’s Behind Enemy Lines for trainer Jack Sisterson. The son of Sioux Nation was last seen finishing fifth in the Hall of Fame Stakes at Saratoga.

Also entered are C&H Diamond Racing’s Frosted Departure for trainer Kenny McPeek and jockey Brian Hernandez; St. George Stable’s Mounsieur Coco for Fausto Gutierrez and Martin Chaun; BG Stables’ Lugan Knight for Michael McCarthy and Florent Geroux; Barry and Joni Butzow’s Golden Bandit for Coty Rose and Adam Beschizza and K&R Racing Stable and Town Branch Racing’s Two of a Kind for Brian Lynch and Declan Cannon.

Franklin-Simpson Entries

5:54 p.m. – Grade 2 Turf Sprint at Kentucky Downs

The $1 million Turf Sprint for 3-year-olds and up atKentucky Downs has Breeders’ Cup implications. The race is a “Win and You’re In” event and the victor gets a fees-paid spot in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

The top two finishers from the Grade 3 Troy Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 5 will line up next to each other in the starting gate in the six-furlong Turf Sprint. Cogburn, the winner of the Troy, lines up in post position seven and Nobals, who was second by three-quarters of a length, is next door in No. 8.

Trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, Cogburn, owned by Clark O. Brewster and L. William and Corinne Heligbrodt, is unbeaten in his last three starts, his first three on grass. Before the Troy win, the son of Not This Time won a pair of ungraded stakes at Lone Star. Ricardo Santana has the mount.

Trained by Larry Rivelli, Nobals, owned by Vince Foglia’s Patricia’s Hope, will try to dictate pace, which he has done most of his career. Gerardo Corrales will ride.

Rivelli also has One Timer, owned by Foglia and Richard Ravin. The son of Trappe Shot won the Grade 2 Franklin-Simpson at Kentucky Downs last year at odds of just under 20-1. E.T.Baird, who rode him that day, has the call here.

Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse sends out late-running Olympic Runner, a son of Gio Ponti. Owned by Gary Barber, Olympic Runner has one win in four starts this year, that coming in his last start, an allowance at Colonial on Aug. 5. Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano will ride.

Irad Ortiz Jr. takes over the riding chores for trainer Chad Brown’s Dr. Zempf, who starts from post 12. Since coming to Brown’s barn from Europe, the son of Dark Angel, who is owned by Ibrahim Rachid’s Rachid’s Racing, has a win in three starts. He was fourth in the Grade 1 Jaipur when last seen in June.

Six-year-old Gear Jockey, winner of the Grade 3 Turf Sprint at Kentucky Downs in 2021, has only raced once this year, that being a sixth-place finish in the Van Clief Stakes at Colonial on July 22. He is trained by Rusty Arnold, owned by Calumet Farm and will be ridden by Jose Lezcano.

Also entered are George A. Sharp’s Front Run the Fed for trainer Caio Caramori and jockey Reylu Gutierrez; Bad Beat Brian, owned by Marsico Brothers Racing, trained by Brittany Vanden Berg and to be ridden by her husband, Chris Emigh; Three Diamond Farm’s Anaconda for Joe Sharp and Joel Rosario; Robert Cotran’s Eamonn for Joe Orseno and John Velazquez; Exline-Border Racing, SAF Racing, Richard Hausman and Stonestreet Stables’ Dream Shake for Michael Stidham and Tyler Gaffalione and Calvin Nguyen and Joey Tran’s Noble Reflection for George Papaprodromou and Florent Geroux.

Turf Sprint Entries

5:56 p.m. – Grade 2 Canadian Stakes at Woodbine

Irish-bred Fev Rover, fresh off a victory in the Beverly D. (G1T), is back to defend her title in the $200,000 Canadian Stakes. Owned by Tracy Farmer, Fev Rover heads into the about 1 1/8-mile turf race for fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up, off an authoritative score in the in the $500,000 Beverly D. Taking command early with Javier Castellano aboard, the well-travelled mare set modest fractions and then fired home to notch a 3 ½-length triumph in the 1 3/16-mile race. ​

Casse will also send out Talbeyah, another Irish-bred owned by Farmer. The 5-year-old daughter of Lope de Vega (IRE)-Thai Haku (IRE) is 3-0-0 from 13 starts.

Moira, Canada’s reigning horse of the year, 2023 Dance Smartly (G2T) winner Miss Dracarys, graded stakes winner Skims (GB), multiple graded stakes winner Atomic Blonde (GER), and graded stakes-placed Ready Lady will also go postward.

Canadian Stakes Entries

6:30 p.m. – Grade 2 Ladies Turf Sprint at Kentucky Downs

Wakanaka has hooked some of the toughest turf horses in North America — including competing at various distances and racing against the boys — and could be the one to beat in the $1 million AGS Ladies Turf Sprint’s field of nine.

Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, the 5-year-old Irish-bred Wakanaka comes into the Grade 2, 6 1/2-furlong Ladies Turf Sprint off a second-place effort in Saratoga’s Grade 3 Caress at 5 1/2 furlongs. Before that, she was third in Belmont Park’s Grade 1 Just A Game at a mile. A multiple stakes-winner in Italy before coming to the United States last year, Wakanaka won Woodbine’s Grade 2 Dance Smartly last year as well as the $350,000 Fall Harvest Stakes on Breeders’ Cup weekend at Keeneland.

Bridlewood Farm’s Bay Storm is back a year after she lost the Ladies Turf Sprint by a nose to the highly accomplished Campanelle. The 5-year-old Bay Storm earned a free berth in the Ladies Turf Sprint by virtue of winning the $200,000 prep at Ellis Park.

Trainer Mark Casse as a strong contender in Our Flash Drive, a multiple graded-stakes winner on turf and synthetic at Woodband winner of Saratoga’s De La Rose Stakes last year.

Other contenders: multiple stakes-winner Train to Artemus; California invaders Unbridled Mary and Tony Ann; Saratoga allowance winner Gal in a Rush; and Quaria Comet, a Kentucky Downs maiden-winner last year who was second by a neck in the Ellis Park prep for the Ladies Sprint.

Ladies Turf Sprint Entries

7:05 p.m. – Grade 2 Kentucky Turf Cup at Kentucky Downs

Headed by four Grade 1 winners and a trio of Grade 2 victors, an overflow field of 16 was entered for Saturday’s $1.7 million FanDuel Kentucky Turf Cup. The Grade 2 stakes at 1 1/2 miles is a “Win and You’re In” Challenge Series race for the $4 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf at Santa Anita.

Twelve horses can start, with another four entries on the “also-eligible” list needing scratches in order to run.

Mike Maker, Kentucky Downs‘ all-time winningest trainer, entered four horses in pursuit of a record sixth victory in the Kentucky Turf Cup. That includes last year’s winner Red Knight, who returns at age 9 as a Grade 1 winner after taking Belmont Park’s Man o’ War in May. Maker also is running Therapist, who at age 8 earned his first Grade 1 victory when he took Monmouth Park’s United Nations in his last start, a race in which Red Knight was a late-running third.

The only horse in the body of the race who isn’t a graded-stakes winner is the Maker-trained Me and Mr. C, who got into the overflow field by virtual of capturing the 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Downs Preview Turf Cup at Ellis Park. Even so, Me and Mr. C is a five-time stakes winner. Maker’s fourth entrant, Grade 2-placed Red Run, needs four scratches to get into the starting gate.

Trainer Brendan Walsh entered two-time Grade 1 winner Santin and Keeneland’s Grade 2 Elkhorn winner Verstappen. Santin, winner of last year’s Grade 1 Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic and the Arlington Million staged at Churchill Downs, comes into the Kentucky Turf Cup off a second-place finish in the 2023 Arlington Million, which was relocated to Virginia.

Paulo Lobo, who teamed with jockey Joe Talamo to win the Kentucky Turf Cup two years ago with the Argentine-bred Imperador, returns to the 1 1/2-mile stakes with Nautilus, a Grade 1 winner last year in his native Brazil. Nautilus won an off-the-turf Ellis Park allowance race by a nose in his last start.

Other graded-stakes winners include Spooky Channel and Never Explain. Trainer Chris Block brings Another Mystery back for another crack at the Kentucky Turf Cup after the horse finished third last year by a nose and a neck. Kitodan, winner of last year’s Dueling Grounds Derby (G3), will run back in the Turf Cup after finishing seventh in the meet’s opening-day FanDuel Tapit Stakes.

The horse to catch could be the Mark Casse-trained Get Smoking, who finished second by a neck in the Grade 2 Wise Dan at Ellis Park and then was fourth by a total of a length in the Ellis Park prep for the Kentucky Turf Cup.

Kentucky-bred winner of the Kentucky Turf Cup will bring home $1 million; a non-Kentucky-bred winner will still earn about $800,000.

Kentucky Turf Cup Entries

7:29 p.m. – Grade 2 John C. Mabee Stakes at Del Mar

The horse to beat in the six-strong Mabee is Harris Farms’ homebred Closing Remarks, home first in the Grade 2 Yellow Ribbon Handicap here on August 12. Trainer Carla Gaines gave rider Rispoli a leg up that afternoon and she’ll do the same on Saturday.

Neige Blanche will shorten up two furlongs for trainer Lonny Powell, following a third-place run last out in the CTT and TOC Stakes.

Phil D’Amato enters a pair: graded stakes-winning Turnerloose, most recently fifth in the G2 Yellow Ribbon off a 10-month layoff, and last-out allowance winner Oakhurst.

Mabee Entries

8:59 p.m. – Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante at Del Mar

The deep Debutante field has a sparkling threesome who should draw the majority of the action in the extended dash – Dan Eplin’s Dreamfyre, Repole Stable’s Pushiness and Spendthrift Farm‘s Tamara.

All three of those runners are last-out winners, and in the case of Dreamfrye and Pushiness they are last-out stakes winners.

Dreamfyre was impressive in wiring the field in the Grade 3 Sorrento Stakes here on August 12. The daughter of the Scat Daddy sire Flameaway is now two-for-two after her earlier victory in a minor stakes at Pleasanton in her debut on July 9. She’s trained by O.J. Jauregui and again will be ridden by Hector Berrios.

Pushiness outran six rivals in the CTBA Stakes at Del Mar on August 6. She fires out of the barn of Mike McCarthy and will be handled once more by Umberto Rispoli.

Tamara comes into the stakes off a first-out triumph at Del Mar on August 19, a six and a half-furlong straight maiden affair where she came running late to score smartly. She’s got some serious connections going for her: She’s a daughter of multiple champion Beholder; she’s trained by Hall of Famer Richard Mandella, and she’ll once again by guided by Hall of Famer Mike Smith.

Del Mar Debutante Entries


8:59 p.m. – Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity at Del Mar

Seven 2-year-olds have been entered for the seven-furlong Del Mar Futurity, led by 2-5 morning-line favorite Prince of Monaco for trainer Bob Baffert. The son of Speightstown has won both his career starts, including the G3 Best Pal, and will be partnered by Flavien Prat.

Trainer Tim Yakteen will send out Rothschild, a son of Uncle Mo who broke his maiden at second asking on Aug. 25, while Doug O’Neill has entered Best Pal third-place finisher Raging Torrent (Maximus Mischief).

Not to be overlooked in 2-year-old races, trainer Keith Desormeaux has entered 12-1 morning-line chance Next Level. The maiden son of Vino Rosso was second last out after setting the pace in a six-furlong maiden race, and will get the services of Kent Desormeaux in the irons.

Del Mar Futurity Entries

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