Epic Weekend Looms

Like many, I am looking forward to the Alabama this weekend. Will It's Tricky solidify her place at the top of the division, will Plum Pretty take it away from her, or will another 3-year-old filly jump into the mix? My money will be on Plum Pretty.

The race intrigues me, but in a way I just want to get this weekend over with so I can start turning my attention to Aug. 28-29, which promises to be an epic weekend of racing--maybe the best non-Breeders' Cup weekend of the year. Between Del Mar and Saratoga, a total of seven grade I races will be held, and it looks like three of them are going to be must-see events.

The Travers is always a must-see race but this year it could be a championship race. Coil (Haskell), Ruler On Ice (Belmont), Shackleford (Preakness), and Stay Thirsty (Jim Dandy) would all be able to lay claim to the 3-year-old division lead with a Travers win, while an upset by another outsider would clutter things even further with the Breeders' Cup just a little more than two months away.

If it's possible for the Travers to get one-upped by an undercard race, it could happen this year in the King's Bishop if Uncle Mo and The Factor both make their comebacks in the seven-furlong dash. By all accounts, Uncle Mo is working like a monster for his return, while The Factor, a longshot to make the race only a few weeks ago, just needs one last solid work for Bob Baffert to send him on a plane to New York. Arguably the two Kentucky Derby favorites before illness and injury sidelined them, Uncle Mo and The Factor squaring off in the King's Bishop is a tantalizing thought. Throw in the fact that Baffert's lightning-fast Saddleranch, Amsterdam winner Caleb's Posse, the speedy Flashpoint, and Justin Phillip all could join them, and you have the makings of an all-time great race.

Not long ago we found out that Blind Luck and Havre de Grace will not meet in the Personal Ensign, which would be disappointing if it weren't for the fact that the two star fillies will likely face males in separate races. Havre de Grace is a go for the Sept. 3 Woodward and will meet a good field that could include Convocation, Duke of Mischief, Giant Oak, Flat Out, and either Mission Impazible or Rule. We now have an extra week to get primed for that one.

The third race that could leave us on the edge of our seats is the Pacific Classic on Sunday, especially if Blind Luck stays home to face males for the first time. How does a showdown between Blind Luck, Twirling Candy, and Game on Dude sound? It now seems more likely.

We've got all of next week to break down these marquee match-ups, but for now, which one are you most looking forward to?

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