Weekend Lineup Presented By NYRABets: Holiday Bonanza - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report
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Weekend Lineup Presented By NYRABets: Holiday Bonanza

Flightline and jockey Flavien Prat after the Met Mile at Belmont

A jam-packed three days of racing awaits bettors this Labor Day weekend, with five “Win and You're In” races for the Breeders' Cup World Championships topping the docket. It is also closing weekend at Saratoga, but opening weekend at the lucrative Kentucky Downs meet.

Perhaps the most exciting of those contests will be the Grade 1 Pacific Classic at Del Mar, in which the undefeated Flightline will take on a field of five for his first test over the 1 1/4-mile distance. The two-time Grade 1 winner has been installed as the 1-5 morning line favorite.

In Saratoga Springs, a field of eight line up for the G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup, including four trainees from Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher's barn: Dynamic One, Americanrevolution, Keepmeinmind, and Untreated. First Captain and Olympiad also line up in what should be a fairly well-matched bunch.

The other “Win and You're In” races are as follows: G2 Flower Bowl Saturday at Saratoga, G2 Del Mar Handicap Saturday at Del Mar, and the G3 Green Flash Handicap on Sunday at Del Mar.

Kentucky Downs' Saturday card features three stakes races, topped by the $1 million Mint Million (G3). There are two more stakes on Sunday, headed by the $750,000 Dueling Grounds Derby (G3).

Juveniles will get their chance to shine at Saratoga later on, with the fillies in the G1 Spinaway on Sunday and males in the G1 Hopeful on Monday.

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

Saturday

5:09 p.m. – Grade 2 Flower Bowl Stakes at Saratoga

The Grade 2, $600,000 Flower Bowl will feature a rematch of the top-four finishers from the G2 Glens Falls as George Krikorian's multiple Grade 1-winner War Like Goddess will attempt a second victory in Saturday's 1 3/8-mile inner turf test for older fillies and mares. Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, War Like Goddess is following a similar campaign to last year, arriving at the Flower Bowl once again from a win in the Glens Falls last out on Aug. 6.

The Flower Bowl is a “Win and You're In” qualifier for the Grade 1, $2 million Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf in November at Keeneland, providing the winner a berth into the 1 3/16-mile contest for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up.

Flower Bowl Entries

5:45 p.m. – Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Saratoga

Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher will unleash a competitive quartet for Saturday's Grade 1, $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup field, a prestigious 10-furlong test for 3-year-olds and upward offering a “Win and You're In” spot in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Classic in November at Keeneland.

Leading the Pletcher quartet is Dynamic One, who captured the G2 Suburban on July 9 at Belmont Park over returning rivals First Captain and Untreated. Reigning New York-bred Horse of the Year Americanrevolution returns to his native state for the first time since capturing the G1 Cigar Mile presented by NYRA Bets on Dec. 4, 2021, at Aqueduct Racetrack. The 4-year-old Constitution chestnut has made both of his starts this year at Churchill Downs, finishing fourth in the Blame in June off a six-month layoff and second in the Grade 2 Stephen Foster on July 2.

After a successful debut for Pletcher last out, Keepmeinmind will seek his first graded stakes victory since a maiden-breaking performance in the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club in November 2020 at Churchill Downs. Previously trained by Robertino Diodoro, the son of Laoban competed in nothing but graded stakes events last year with his best finishes taking place when third in the G3 Ohio Derby and a game second to dual champion Essential Quality in the G2 Jim Dandy at the Spa. He was beaten a half-length in both races.

Rounding out the Pletcher contingent is Untreated. While he is the only Jockey Club Gold Cup contender without a graded stakes win, the son of Nyquist came close in his last three starts, when a pacesetting third in the Suburban and finishing three-quarters of a length behind Dynamic One. He showed early speed when third in the G3 Pimlico Special on May 20 and was beaten 1 1/4 lengths.

Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey will seek his fifth Jockey Club Gold Cup victory with dual graded stakes winner First Captain. Second in the Suburban beaten a nose, the 4-year-old son of 2007-08 Jockey Club Gold Cup winner and Hall of Famer Curlin captured the G3 Pimlico Special two starts back going 1 3/16 miles under returning rider Luis Saez.

Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott will saddle four-time graded stakes winner Olympiad, who will strive to make amends following a distant fourth in the G1 Whitney on Aug. 6 at Saratoga.

Three-time graded stakes winner Tax will seek his first win at Saratoga since capturing the 2019 G2 Jim Dandy for trainer Danny Gargan. The 6-year-old gelded son of Arch made his first start in a year and a half with a wire-to-wire victory in the last out Battery Park on July 9 at Delaware Park.

Completing the field is Chess Chief for trainer Dallas Stewart, who finished a last-out third in the Alydar on Aug. 4 at Saratoga.

Jockey Club Gold Cup Entries

6:31 p.m. – Grade 3 Mint Million at Kentucky Downs

Godolphin's Pixelate heads a field of nine older horses as the 5-year-old horse returns to Kentucky Downs Saturday to defend his victory in last year's $1 million, Grade 3 WinStar Mint Million. Pixelate, who is based at trainer Michael Stidham's stable at Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland, has raced once this year, finishing third by a total of a neck in a stakes at Laurel. He ended his 4-year-old season with two close seconds in New Orleans.

8:30 p.m. – Grade 1 TVG Pacific Classic at Del Mar

Hronis Racing and partners' undefeated Flightline has been made the 1-5 favorite against five rivals in Saturday's 32nd running of the $1-million TVG Pacific Classic at Del Mar. The 4-year-old son of Tapit, an impressive winner of his four starts so far, including a pair of Grade 1 scores, drew Post 5 in the compact field. However, the Pacific Classic will be Flightline's first attempt at 1 1/4 miles; the furthest he's raced thus far has been one mile.

Those ready to give the 2022 favorite a go are Commonwealth Thoroughbreds or Winstar Farm and Zedan Racing Stables' Country Grammer (Post 2); C R K Stable's Express Train (Post 4); Jay Em Ess Stable's Extra Hope (Post 1); Fox Hill Farms and Siena Farm's Royal Ship (Post 3), and Steve Moger's Stilleto Boy (Post 6).

The TVG Pacific Classic is a Breeders' Cup “Win and You're In” race, meaning the winning horse has a guaranteed spot, with all fees paid, in the $6-million Breeders' Cup Classic, which will be held at Keeneland in Kentucky on Nov. 5.

Pacific Classic Entries

9:00 p.m. – Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap at Del Mar

Heywoods Beach and Tizamagician square off again in the G2 Del Mar Handicap, part of the excellent card on TVG Pacific Classic Day at Del Mar Saturday. But this time they'll go at it on the grass.

The two met on opening weekend in the G3 Cougar II, run on the main track at Del Mar. The two dueled throughout much of the 1 ½ mile race with Heywoods Beach coming out on top at the end and Tizamagician finishing a game second. The year before it was Tizamagician walking into the winner's circle and Heywoods Beach finishing third in the Cougar II.

The Del Mar Handicap is far from being a two-horse race. Trainer Michael McCarthy will bring his G2 Eddie Read winner Master Piece to the party.

The G2 Del Mar Handicap is also a “Win and You're In” race for the Breeders' Cup Turf.

Del Mar Handicap Entries

Sunday

5:57 p.m. – Grade 1 Spinaway Stakes at Saratoga

Naughty Gal headlines a talented field of 10 juvenile fillies in Sunday's 131st running of the Grade 1, $300,000 Spinaway, part of the Breeders' Cup Dirt Dozen qualifying incentive on the road to the Breeders' Cup in November at Keeneland, at Saratoga Race Course.

Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas will look to become the winningest trainer of the race when he saddles Naughty Gal against nine rivals, including Kaling, trained by Lukas mentee and fellow Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, who is tied with Lukas with six Spinaway wins. Naughty Gal [post 4, Jose Ortiz] graduated impressively at second asking, taking a six-furlong maiden event by 9 1/4-lengths at Churchill Downs. The daughter of Into Mischief immediately followed by making the grade in the 6 1/2-furlong Adirondack on August 7 at the Spa, defeating third place finisher and returning rival Sabra Tuff.

Spinaway Entries

6:31 p.m. – Grade 3 Dueling Grounds Derby at Kentucky Downs

Graded-stakes winners Grand Sonata and Ready to Purrform head an overflow field for Sunday's $750,000 Big Ass Fans Dueling Grounds Derby on the third day of racing at the FanDuel Meet at Kentucky Downs. The 1 5/16-mile turf race will be run as a Grade 3 stakes for the first time.

Trainer Todd Pletcher will try to win the Dueling Grounds Derby for the third time with Whisper Hill Farm's Grand Sonata, winner of the Grade 3 Kitten's Joy and another turf stakes at Gulfstream Park over the winter. While he didn't fare well in his last start in the Saratoga Derby (G1), Grand Sonata finished fourth – losing by a total of a length at 32-1 odds — in the Belmont Derby (G1) the race before.

Donegal Racing's Ready to Purrform, trained by Brad Cox, comes into the Dueling Grounds Derby off victory in Saratoga's Grade 2 Hall of Fame Stakes.

Dueling Grounds Derby Entries

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