Thanksgiving Weekend Stakes Races Shaping Up

The fields for several Thanksgiving weekend stakes races are beginning to shape up, as many horses from Breeders' Cup races will return to the races.

More Than Ready, Golden Missile, and Affirmed Success -- who raced in three separate Breeders' Cup races -- are likely to meet in the Cigar Mile (gr. I) at Aqueduct Nov. 25. The last grade I of the year on the New York racing calendar, the Cigar Mile heads the holiday weekend at Aqueduct, which hosts five graded stakes in three days. Also that weekend at Aqueduct is the Fall Highweight Handicap (gr. II), the Delta Air Lines Top Flight Handicap (gr. II), the Demoiselle Stakes (gr. II), and the Remsen Stakes (gr. II).

Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Belmont Stakes (gr. I) runner-up Aptitude is expected to contest the $400,000 Clark Handicap (gr. II) on Nov. 24 at Churchill Downs. The Bobby Frankel-trained son of A. P. Indy recently won an allowance race at Churchill while making his first start since the Belmont. Victor Espinoza, who rode Aptitude in the allowance race, will have the mount in the Clark. Also being pointed to the Clark is Fayette Stakes (gr. III) winner Jadada.

Also at Churchill that weekend is the $400,000 Falls City Handicap (gr. III, Nov. 23), in which Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) winner Spain may race. Dollar Bill is likely for the $200,000 Brown & Williamson Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II, Nov. 25) and Dallas Stewart-trained Nasty Storm is possible for the $200,000 Golden Rod (gr. II, Nov. 25). Also pointing toward the Golden Rod, a 1 1/16-mile race for juvenile fillies, is Unbridled Elaine. Unbridled Elaine won the Pocahontas Stakes in her last start, completing the mile in 1:34.82, and trainer Stewart says, "she might be the best one around, in my opinion. She's going to be tough. I think we're going to to really see something."

Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) winner War Chant may seek to solidify his chances for an Eclipse Award with a run in the Early Times Hollywood Derby (gr. IT) at Hollywood Park on November 26. The Neil Drysdale-trained colt his undefeated on grass since returning from a five-month layoff following the Kentucky Derby. War Chant breezed four furlongs on the Hollywood turf course Sunday, getting the distance in :54 4/5 seconds. Hawksley Hill went the same distance in :53 1/5 seconds, handily. Also possible for the 1 1/8-mile turf race are the Drysdale-trained pair of Jokerman and Sign of Hope, the Bobby Frankel-trained El Gran Papa and Lord Flasheart, and trainer Elliot Walden may supplement River City Handicap (gr. IIIT) winner Brahms. Both Sign of Hope and Lord Flasheart worked seven furlongs in 1:31 2/5 seconds, handily, over the Hollywood Park turf Sunday.

Frankel is expected to have a busy weekend at Hollywood Park, saddling 1999 Hollywood Derby winner Super Quercus in the $500,000 Citation Handicap (gr. IIT, Nov. 25), Happyanunoit in the Matriarch Stakes (gr. IT, Nov. 26), and the pair of Skatesheba and Fantastic Filly in the Miesque Stakes (gr. IIT, Nov. 24). Frankel is also pointing Timboroa to the $4.5-million Japan Cup (Jpn-IT, Nov. 26) and Euchre to the $2.3-million dirt division of the Japan Cup. The Alfredo Marquez-trained Lord Sterling his also expected for the dirt division and John's Call will race in the turf division.