Monmouth Winds Down, Oak Tree Heats Up
Date Posted: 9/24/2003 1:40:20 PM
Last Updated: 9/24/2003 2:13:41 PM

The live racing season ends this Sunday at Monmouth Park near Oceanport, N.J., and at Assiniboia Downs in Winnipeg, but as those parks prepare to lay low for the winter, Hawthorne, Oak Tree, and Turf Paradise are gearing up to let fans take advantage of the fall weather with meets that open this weekend. Meadowlands and Keeneland are also just days from their first fall live racing dates.

Turf Paradise opens Friday through May 16, will offer five days of racing most weeks. The track's richest event scheduled between Sept. 26 and Jan. 1 is the Nov. 22 Queen of the Green Handicap for females three years old and up going a mile on the turf.

Hawthorne isn't wasting any time and will feature its only grade II race of the season, the $750,000 Hawthorne Gold Cup, on Sunday's opening day program. The meet is the result of the Hawthorne-Sportsman's merger, and for the first time in recent years, a number of trainers will opt to stay in the Chicago area after the Arlington meet closes on Sept. 27, including Louie Roussel, Dennis Ebert, and Don and Kelly Von Hemel.

The Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting is chock-full of graded stakes races, including four on opening day and eight on Oct. 25 when the track hosts the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships. On Sept. 28 Santa Anita offers the grade I Clement L. Hirsch Memorial Turf Championship and the Yellow Ribbon, both on turf, plus the Lady's Secret Breeders' Cup Handicap (where Azeri is scheduled to compete) and the Oak Leaf Stakes. Both are grade II races. Two more grade II events pop up on Oct. 4, the Goodwood Breeders' Cup Handicap and the Oak Tree Derby (on the turf).

Meadowlands opens its 28-day season on Thursday, Oct. 2, and Keeneland opens the following day. Meadowlands has live racing Tuesday through Saturday through Nov. 8, with a 1:10 p.m. post on Tuesdays. Every other day has a 7:10 p.m. post. Keeneland offers 17 days of live racing Wednesday through Sunday, with a daily post of 1:15 p.m. It will have an abbreviated live card on closing day, Oct. 25, so it can offer full card simulcasting on the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships from Santa Anita. Post time on Breeders' Cup day is 12:30 p.m.

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