Weekend Lineup: Plentiful Menu Of Graded Stakes For Holiday Weekend - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Weekend Lineup: Plentiful Menu Of Graded Stakes For Holiday Weekend

Rich Strike defeating Epicenter in the Kentucky Derby

Led by the Grade 1 Clark that features the return to Churchill Downs of G1 Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike, the Thanksgiving holiday weekend offers 18 graded stakes throughout North America, with a little something for everyone.

The action begins on Thanksgiving Day, with Churchill Downs offering a pair of graded stakes and Del Mar beginning its Fall Turf Festival with the G3 Red Carpet over the testing distance of 1 3/8 miles.

Aqueduct gets into the swing of things on Friday with the G3 duo of the Long Island on turf and Comely on the main track while the G2 Mrs. Revere Stakes complements the Clark on the Friday program at Churchill Downs. That same afternoon, the G2 Hollywood Turf Cup is the highlight of Del Mar's nine-race program.

Five tracks – Aqueduct, Churchill Downs, Del Mar, Golden Gate Fields, and Woodbine – each card at least one graded stakes on Saturday. At Woodbine and Churchill Downs, the Saturday spotlight will be on 2-year-olds, with Woodbine offering the G3 pair of the Grey and Mazarine Stakes and Churchill carding the G2 duo of the Golden Rod and Kentucky Jockey Club. The latter two stakes highlight a 12-race program exclusively for 2-year-olds at Churchill Downs.

Here's a quick look at some of this weekend's stakes:


3:53 p.m. – Grade 3 Falls City Stakes at Churchill Downs

It's getting late in the year and there are limited opportunities for fillies and mares who will be retired to the breeding shed in 2023 to earn graded stakes black type. Simon Callahan may have shipped the Empire Maker filly Bellamore from California with that in mind and Brendan Walsh-trained Moon Swag, a Malibu Moon filly, just missed winning a G3 in 2021 and looked good winning her comeback race last month at Keeneland. But the into Mischief filly Played Hard, who won on this track in the G3 Locust Grove in September, may have these over a barrel for Philip Bauer and Joel Rosario is on hand to ride.

Falls City Entries

4:29 p.m. – Red Carpet Stakes at Del Mar

Sister Otoole ships west for Graham Motion  for this 1 3/8-mile turf test and the Amira's Prince mare will try to repeat her effort from summer, when she made a successful invasion  of Del Mar to win the TOC/CTT Stakes at the same distance. Umberto Rispoli enters the holiday weekend on a cold streak (1-for-24) but rides this course as good as anyone. Victor Espinoza will try to steal it with Angel Nadeshinko for Patrick Gallagher, but she hasn't been tested at this class level yet.

Red Carpet Entries


3:14 p.m. – Comely Stakes at Aqueduct

Kathleen O. returns for the first time since closing to be fifth, beaten four lengths by Secret Oath, in the G1 Kentucky Oaks. Trainer Shug McGaughey is good at bringing horses back from lengthy layoffs and the daughter of Upstart should have a decent pace to close into with her late-running style. Bill Mott-trained Nostalgic won the G3 Gazelle over this surface in the spring and the Medaglia d'Oro filly just missed last out in the G3  Turnback the Alarm.

Comely Stakes Entries

5:56 p.m. – Clark Stakes at Churchill Downs

Brad Cox brings West Will Power to this spot off a big front-running win last out in the G2 Fayette at Keeneland, and the Bernardini colt could be the lone speed in this line-up if Injunction isn't sent early. Rich Strike has shown in his three races over this track that he likes the surface, and the 80-1 upset winner of the G1 Kentucky Derby may go favored for the first time in his 13th start. He comes back for trainer Eric Reed three weeks after a fourth-place finish behind Flightline in the G1 Breeders' Cup Classic.

Clark Stakes Entries

6:30 p.m. – Hollywood Turf Cup at Del Mar

None of the seven older runners entered here has won a graded stakes, so this is not the strongest Turf Cup field seen. The Grey Wizard travels to California for Graham Motion and his second behind Nations Pride in the G3 Jockey Club Derby Invitational in September at Aqueduct makes him a contender. Avenue scored a solid allowance win on the Del Mar turf going 1 3/8 miles last summer and the Quality Road colt should love the added distance to 1 1/2 miles, having finished a close third in the 1 3/4-mile, G3 San Juan Capistrano Stakes in June.

Hollywood Turf Cup Entries


2:22 p.m. – Grey Stakes at Woodbine

Hal rolls into this G3 synthetic track test for juveniles unbeaten in two starts for Darwin Banach and the gelding from the first crop by Accelerate is the only stakes winner in the field, having won the Display Stakes three weeks ago. Saffie Joseph Jr. ships the English Channel colt Bluebirds Over up from Florida after a runaway win on the Gulfstream Park Tapeta surface. The always dangerous Mark Casse has two entered, both fillies by Quality Road.

Grey Stakes Entries

5:27 p.m. – Golden Rod Stakes at Churchill Downs

Tom Amoss-trained Hoosier Philly has a lot going for her in this spot. She's by leading sire Into Mischief out of a Tapit mare, is unbeaten in two starts, and has a win over the track at the same distance as the Golden Rod. That was on a sloppy track in the Rags to Riches and might not translate to the same kind of performance on dry footing. American Rockette has run decently in a pair of G1 stakes in New York, and trainer Bill Mott is known for his patience. There could be improvement for the American Pharoah miss as she stretches out around two turns for the first time.

Golden Rod Entries

5:56 p.m. – Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs

Red Route One and Instant Coffee both chased Forte home in the G1 Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland last out and Forte came back to win the G1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile impressively. Red Route One, by Gun Runner, came back to be a troubled fifth in the G3 Street Sense run over a sloppy track at Churchill and picks up Tyler Gaffalione for the first time. Instant Coffee, by red-hot freshman sire Bolt d'Oro, drew a tougher post but has Luis Saez in the saddle to figure out a good trip.

Kentucky Jockey Club Entries

6:30 p.m. – Seabiscuit Handicap at Del Mar

Phil D'Amato saddles a trio here – Masteroffoxhounds, Hong Kong Harry, and Lincoln Hawk – and all three appear to have a solid chance. Irish-bred Hong Kong Harry is 4-for-5 this year since being imported from the UK and was overpowering in his G2 Del Mar Mile win last summer. Flavien Prat rides him back. Santin just missed in last year's G1 Hollywood Derby for Brendan Walsh, who sends the Distorted Humor west once again. His best is good enough, he draws the rail and gets Umberto Rispoli in the saddle.

Seabiscuit Entries

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