The Red Smith Handicap (gr. IIT) and two juvenile stakes, the Nashua (gr. II) and Tempted (gr. III), add some local spice to the Breeders' Cup program that begins Aqueduct's opening weekend Nov. 6.
Al Khali finally got loose in mid-stretch and ran down odds-on favorite Winchester in the final yards to win the $150,000 Bowling Green Handicap (gr. IIT) Sept. 11 at Belmont Park.
Two-time grade II winner Strike a Deal will carry top weight of 123 pounds when leading a field of eight in the $200,000 Oceanport Stakes (gr. IIIT) Aug. 1 at Monmouth Park.
Champion Gio Ponti will attempt to break a five-race losing streak and defend his title in the $600,000 Man o' War Stakes (gr. IT) July 10 at Belmont.
Gio Ponti, winner of last year's Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap (gr. IT) at Belmont Park on his way to two Eclipse Awards, gets top weight of 122 pounds in this year's renewel.
In his first start in more than 10 months, Strike a Deal wired the field for jockey Ramon Dominguez in the $200,000 Dixie Stakes (gr. IIT), registering a bit of larceny in the race preceding the Preakness Stakes (gr. I).
Nicanor, full brother to 2006 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Barbaro, drew the far outside post in a field of 13 for his stakes debut in the $200,000 Dixie (gr. IIT) on the Pimlico turf May 15.
The second running of the $200,000 Monmouth Stakes June 13, a 1 1/8-mile turf event that has the look of a graded event, figures to serve as a solid prep for the $750,000 United Nations Stakes (gr. IT), the New Jersey track's top grass offering of the season on July 4.
A deep field of 13, including multiple graded stakes winners Proudinsky, Kiss the Kid, and Wesley, makes for an intriguing match-up in the $150,000 Dixie Stakes (gr. IIT), the race that precedes the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) at Pimlico May 16.
Jayeff B Stables' Strike a Deal, who had been winless for nearly 18 months, finally tasted victory Nov. 8, as the 4-year-old colt stayed close to the pace, struck the front in upper stretch, and pulled away for a resounding seven-length victory in the $150,000 Red Smith Handicap (gr. IIT) on a rainy afternoon at Aqueduct.
After battling dual-classic winner Big Brown down the stretch in the Sept. 13 Monmouth Stakes only to fall a neck short, Gary Tanaka's Proudinsky will try to get back to his winning ways when he takes on eight turfers in the $600,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational (gr. IT) Sept. 27 at Belmont Park.
There is no doubt that the $1 million Woodbine Mile (Can-IT) will draw the majority of the public's attention Sept. 7 at the Canadian racetrack. But highlighted by several high-profile turfers vying for more than $1 million in purses, the two supporting stakes on Woodbine's 11-race card are very appetizing in their own right.
Trainer Bobby Frankel has the class edge with Southern California invaders Champs Elysees and Sudan, but local hope Presious Passion has the element of surprise in his favor in the $750,000 United Nations Stakes at Monmouth Park July 5.
Barclay Tagg has a knack for switching horses from one surface to another and finding success. It seems that the veteran trainer has done it again with Nobiz Like Shobiz.
Elizabeth Valando's Nobiz Like Shobiz figures to be the heavy favorite in the Sept. 1 Kent Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Delaware Park. The $500,000 test for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles on the grass has attracted a field of 11.
Trainer Todd Pletcher ran three horses in the $1-million Virginia Derby (gr. IIT) Saturday, so he expected to win. But it was the 3-year-old colt no one expected, 37-1 shot Red Giant, who won by a nose in course record time.
Summer Doldrums turned the tables on his rival Strike A Deal, winning the $750,000 Colonial Turf Cup (gr. IIIT) for 3-year-olds at Colonial Downs by a head.
When racing officials at Colonial Downs added the $750,000 Colonial Turf Cup (gr. IIIT) to their stakes schedule to create the Jacobs Investments $5 million "Grand Slam of Grass," they envisioned attracting strong interest from international horses.
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