The Breeders' Cup is still five weeks away, but this feels like a championship weekend. In total, there are 24 graded races including 10 grade I's. Ten of them are at Belmont, seven more at Santa Anita. Are you ready?
Obviously there are Breeders' Cup implications with many of these races and this weekend will go a long way in helping sort out the division leaders. One interesting thing is how many 3-year-olds will be taking on older horses in major races. By my count, there are seven races (10 horses in total) where 3-year-old will face elders:
Vosburgh: Justin Phillip
Kelso: Uncle Mo
Beldame: Royal Delta
Jockey Club Gold Cup: Stay Thirsty
Lady's Secret: Love Theway Youare, Great Hot, and Zazu
Goodwood: Coil and Nijinksy's Song
Yellow Ribbon: Cambina
I look for Uncle Mo to roll in the Kelso. He is as sharp as he has been since he was 2 and is back at a one-turn mile at Belmont where he ran his best race-the Champagne. Jackson Bend is very good right now too, but Belmont is a different track than Saratoga and a mile might not fit him as well as seven furlongs. Either way, I don't think he catches Mo.
Royal Delta couldn't be any better right now, but she is up against it with Havre de Grace. If you believe in Rag numbers, she is not even in the same ballpark as Havre de Grace. I'm kind of surprised that Mott didn't run her in the Spinster. She likes Keeneland it would have been much easier. Havre de Grace is the best horse in the country, in my opinion. Not saying she'll win, but look for Life At Ten to run a much improved race.
Stay Thirsty is so versatile and in form right now that you would have to think he will be right there. This is a pretty ordinary edition of the JCGC too. But I give the edge to Flat Out. He ran two pretty good races against the two top horses in the country and has a decisive win at Belmont in July. Getting Birdrun in the entry can't hurt either. He's been pretty consistent and can handle the distance. Rodman is intriguing as a potential pacesetter.
Being undefeated in three starts at Belmont and on the verge of becoming a start, you would think that Trappe Shot would have a pretty good chance here. Big Drama too, although he might not be fully cranked for this one. But I'll go with Euroears. He has no problem shipping and he could run them off their feet. To run that well in Dubai and them come back to win a grade I at Del Mar off the layoff was pretty special. Calibrachoa for a piece?
I give Zazu a good chance at holding off Blind Luck. I like her work pattern since the Clement Hirsch and Santa Anita might be her preferred surface. If the race was at nine furlongs I would say no, but she is good at 1 1/16 miles and Blind Luck might run out of room.
I don't know what to make of Coil. Baffert says the Travers is a throw out and I believe him, but I'm not even sure he knows what his running style is right now. He's still learning. I expect him to be in the hunt but...Acclamation seems like he can run well on everything-except dirt. I'll try to beat him. Game On Dude is probably the safest bet. He is 2-for-2 at Santa Anita and always fires. Preamble might be a decent longshot play for exotics.
Cotillion: Love and Pride
Flower Bowl: Dynaslew
Turf Classic: Cape Blanco
Yellow Ribbon: Malibu Pier
Indiana Derby: Wilburn