McCraken could end up the Kentucky Derby favorite if he wins the Bluegrass Stakes

McCraken could end up the Kentucky Derby favorite if he wins the Bluegrass Stakes

Keeneland | Coady Photography

Weekend Stakes Rundown: Derby Prep Trifecta

Aqueduct, Keeneland, and Santa Anita are all loaded with stakes action Saturday.

Each week looks forward to the weekend's biggest races. Consider this your weekly guide to the best stakes in North America. This week we have massive stakes cards at Aqueduct Racetrack, Keeneland, and Santa Anita Park built around three top Triple Crown preps. Races are listed in chronological order (all times Eastern) and full previews are available through the links below.

Saturday, April 8

3:25 p.m.—$250,000 Bay Shore Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct Racetrack

WinStar Farm, China Horse Club, and SF Racing's Theory will make his 3-year-old debut in the seven-furlong sprint. In his last start of 2016, the Gemologist  colt came in 10th in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1), but a start before he scored sprinting in the Futurity Stakes (G3) at Belmont Park by 3 1/2 lengths.

Entries: Bay Shore S. (G3)

Aqueduct Racetrack, Saturday, April 08, 2017, Race 6

  • Grade III
  • 7f
  • Dirt
  • $250,000
  • 3 yo
  • 3:25 PM (local)
11Miggsy (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateIrad Ortiz, Jr.114Rudy R. Rodriguez5/1
22Even Thunder (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateRajiv Maragh120John C. Servis12/1
33Caledonian (NY)Eric Cancel120John P. Terranova, II12/1
44Long Haul Bay (NY)Manuel Franco114Chad C. Brown5/2
55Theory (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateJohn R. Velazquez123Todd A. Pletcher7/5
66You're to Blame (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateJavier Castellano116Chad C. Brown6/1

3:53 p.m.—$250,000 Commonwealth Stakes (G3) at Keeneland

A.P. Indian, who had a five-race win streak broken in the TwinSpires Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) in November, looks to get back on track. He has a pair of grade 1 victories to his credit, and although he lacked a winning kick in the Breeders' Cup, he did stay on for fourth and was eventually placed third after the disqualification of Masochistic.

Entries: Commonwealth S. (G3)

Keeneland, Saturday, April 08, 2017, Race 6

  • Grade III
  • 7f
  • Dirt
  • $250,000
  • 4 yo's & up
  • 3:53 PM (local)
11Tale of S'avall (KY)Tyler Gaffalione118Barclay Tagg12/1
22Fish Trappe Road (NY)Julien R. Leparoux118W. Bret Calhoun8/1
33Limousine Liberal (KY)Jose L. Ortiz118Ben Colebrook9/2
44Yockey's Warrior (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateMiguel Mena118Albert M. Stall, Jr.8/1
55Redesdale (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateRobby Albarado118Brendan P. Walsh15/1
66Riding in the Wind (OH)Marco A. Ccamaque118Jose L. Lopez50/1
77Ami's Flatter (ON)Florent Geroux118Josie Carroll4/1
88A. P. Indian (KY)Joe Bravo120Arnaud Delacour8/5
99Awesome Slew (FL)Joel Rosario118Mark E. Casse6/1

4:28 p.m.—$200,000 Shakertown Stakes (G2T) at Keeneland

Mongolian Saturday has shown an affinity for the Keeneland turf course, with wins in the 2015 TwinSpires Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1T ) and the 2016 Woodford Stakes Presented by Keeneland Select (G3T).

Entries: Shakertown S. (G2T)

Keeneland, Saturday, April 08, 2017, Race 7

  • Grade IIT
  • 5 1/2f
  • Turf
  • $200,000
  • 3 yo's & up
  • 4:28 PM (local)
11Holding Gold (FL)Joel Rosario120Mark E. Casse12/1
22Rainbow Heir (NJ)Trevor McCarthy120Jason Servis3/1
33Green Mask (KY)Robby Albarado120Brad H. Cox4/1
44Justin Squared (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateJose Valdivia, Jr.120Wesley A. Ward12/1
55Element (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateBrian Joseph Hernandez, Jr.120George R. Arnold, II30/1
66Mongolian Saturday (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateJose Lezcano122Enebish Ganbat7/2
77Hogy (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateFlorent Geroux120Scott Becker4/1
88Partly Mocha (WV)Keeneland Sales GraduateJose L. Ortiz120Michael J. Maker6/1
99Shakhimat (ON)Keeneland Sales GraduateJulien R. Leparoux120Roger L. Attfield12/1

4:40 p.m.—$150,000 Excelsior Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct Racetrack

Riding a four-race win streak in his native Chile, Tu Brutus will make his U.S. debut and first start for trainer Gary Contessa in the 1 1/4-mile dirt test. Undefeated in four starts on dirt in Chile, the 5-year-old son of Scat Daddy has a 8-2-3 record from 17 starts.

Entries: Excelsior S. (G3)

Aqueduct Racetrack, Saturday, April 08, 2017, Race 8

  • Grade III
  • 1 1/4m
  • Dirt
  • $150,000
  • 4 yo's & up
  • 4:40 PM (local)
11Bellamy Way (NY)Keeneland Sales GraduateManuel Franco117David A. Cannizzo12/1
22Send It In (NY)John R. Velazquez117Todd A. Pletcher2/1
33Discreet Lover (FL)J. D. Acosta115Uriah St. Lewis30/1
44Hereditary (KY)Javier Castellano117Claude R. McGaughey III3/1
55Tu Brutus (CHI)Irad Ortiz, Jr.115Gary C. Contessa4/1
66Admiral Blue (MD)Rajiv Maragh115Leon J. Blusiewicz5/1
77Doyouknowsomething (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateAngel S. Arroyo115A. C. Avila6/1

5:03 p.m.—$300,000 Madison Stakes (G1) at Keeneland

Paulassilverlining is stepping into salty waters for her first start of 2017. Previously trained by Michelle Nevin for breeder Vince Scuderi, Paulassilverlining is now in the barn of Chad Brown. Brown was already familiar with the mare's form, having seen her up close as she rattled off wins in the Distaff (G3), Vagrancy (G3), and Gallant Bloom (G2) handicaps last year prior to running third in the Nov. 5 Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1).

Entries: Madison S. (G1)

Keeneland, Saturday, April 08, 2017, Race 8

  • Grade I
  • 7f
  • Dirt
  • $300,000
  • 4 yo's & up Fillies and Mares
  • 5:03 PM (local)
11Paid Up Subscriber (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateJoel Rosario118Chad C. Brown5/1
22Clothes Fall Off (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateJulien R. Leparoux120Kiaran P. McLaughlin4/1
33Kathballu (KY)Channing Hill120Kenneth G. McPeek12/1
44Constellation (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateDavid Romero Flores123Jerry Hollendorfer4/1
55High Ridge Road (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateHoracio Karamanos120Linda Rice7/2
66Paulassilverlining (KY)Jose L. Ortiz118Chad C. Brown3/1
77Wheatfield (LA)Edgar S. Prado118Danny Pish12/1
88Ponder Lea (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateFlorent Geroux118Richard Baltas15/1
99Mines and Magic (KY)Robby Albarado118Victoria H. Oliver20/1

5:15 p.m.—$400,000 Carter Handicap (G1) at Aqueduct Racetrack

After winning four of his first five starts, Centennial Farms' Unified  will try grade 1 company for the first time. Making the leap to grade 1 company a bit easier for Unified, a 4-year-old Candy Ride  colt, will be a field of nine that doesn't feature the usual depth expected in a top-level test.

Entries: Carter H. (G1)

Aqueduct Racetrack, Saturday, April 08, 2017, Race 9

  • Grade I
  • 7f
  • Dirt
  • $400,000
  • 4 yo's & up
  • 5:15 PM (local)
11All Star Red (KY)Manuel Franco113Rudy R. Rodriguez12/1
22Tommy Macho (KY)Luis Saez117Todd A. Pletcher7/2
33Sassicaia (KY)Irad Ortiz, Jr.114Rudy R. Rodriguez10/1
44Awesome Banner (FL)John R. Velazquez115Kenneth Decker8/1
55King Kranz (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateKendrick Carmouche115John P. Terranova, II20/1
66Spartiatis (KY)Rajiv Maragh116Leon J. Blusiewicz10/1
77Green Gratto (NJ)Christopher P. DeCarlo116Gaston Grant15/1
88Unified (KY)Javier Castellano120James A. Jerkens7/5
99Ocean Knight (KY)Paco Lopez115Kiaran P. McLaughlin6/1

5:30 p.m.—$200,000 Royal Heroine Stakes (G2T) at Santa Anita Park

Last year's Del Mar Oaks Presented by The Jockey Club (G1T) winner Harmonize will make her season debut in the Royal Heroine. Harmonize then took the Aug. 20 Del Mar Oaks by a head before finishing second in both the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes Presented by Lane's End (G1T) at Keeneland and the Mrs. Revere Stakes (G2T) at Churchill Downs.

Entries: Royal Heroine S. (G2T)

Santa Anita Park, Saturday, April 08, 2017, Race 5

  • Grade IIT
  • 1m
  • Turf
  • $200,000
  • 4 yo's & up Fillies and Mares
  • 2:30 PM (local)
11Juno (BRZ)Kent J. Desormeaux120Neil D. Drysdale12/1
23Prize Exhibit (GB)Mike E. Smith122James M. Cassidy7/2
34Lady Valeur (IRE)Flavien Prat120Patrick Gallagher6/1
45Pretty Girl (ARG)Victor Espinoza120Paulo H. Lobo9/2
56Harmonize (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateJunior Alvarado124William I. Mott2/1
67Hillhouse High (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateCorey S. Nakatani120Richard Baltas4/1
78Mokat (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateRafael Bejarano122Richard Baltas6/1

5:40 p.m.—$500,000 Ashland Stakes (G1) at Keeneland

The 1 1/16-mile test looks to be a proper challenge for John Oxley's grade 1 winner Pretty City Dancer and Gary Barber's graded stakes-placed Summer Luck. For both, who are now settled at Keeneland, it's a stretch out in distance and their first try around two turns—and a chance to prove themselves for a possible start in the Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1).

Entries: Central Bank Ashland S. (G1)

Keeneland, Saturday, April 08, 2017, Race 9

  • Grade I
  • 1 1/16m
  • Dirt
  • $500,000
  • 3 yo Fillies
  • 5:40 PM (local)
11Someday Soon (OH)Jose Lezcano121William B. Van Meter15/1
22Elate (KY)Jose L. Ortiz121William I. Mott7/2
33Pretty City Dancer (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateJoel Rosario121Mark E. Casse7/2
44Meanie Irenie (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateJulien R. Leparoux121Richard Baltas30/1
55Summer Luck (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateFlorent Geroux121Mark E. Casse4/1
66Daddys Lil Darling (KY)Robby Albarado121Kenneth G. McPeek5/2
77Sailor's Valentine (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateCorey J. Lanerie121Eddie Kenneally12/1
88Tapped (KY)David Romero Flores121Jerry Hollendorfer4/1

5:52 p.m.—$750,000 Wood Memorial (G2) at Aqueduct Racetrack

Trainer Graham Motion doesn't mince words or make excuses for Irish War Cry's seventh-place finish in the Xpressbet Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) last month, but what he has seen from the colt since has him hopeful said bad day was just that—a one-off aberration from a runner still getting a handle on his talent.

Entries: Wood Memorial S. presented by NYRA Bets (G2)

Aqueduct Racetrack, Saturday, April 08, 2017, Race 10

  • Grade II
  • 1 1/8m
  • Dirt
  • $750,000
  • 3 yo
  • 5:52 PM (local)
11Glennrichment (KY)Kendrick Carmouche123Rudy R. Rodriguez15/1
22Mo Town (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateJavier Castellano123Anthony W. Dutrow6/1
33Battalion Runner (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateJohn R. Velazquez123Todd A. Pletcher2/1
44Bonus Points (MD)Luis Saez123Todd A. Pletcher20/1
55True Timber (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduatePaco Lopez123Kiaran P. McLaughlin12/1
66Stretch's Stone (NY)Manuel Franco123Bruce N. Levine15/1
77Cloud Computing (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateIrad Ortiz, Jr.123Chad C. Brown5/2
88Irish War Cry (NJ)Rajiv Maragh123H. Graham Motion7/2

6:04 p.m.—$400,000 Santa Anita Oaks (G1) at Santa Anita Park

By Union Rags , Paradise Woods ran well but didn't win her debut Jan. 26 at Santa Anita, then came back to win impressively March 11 in a 5 1/2-furlong maiden special weight race under jockey Flavien Prat. Stakes competition, especially at the grade 1 level, is a serious step up for the Kentucky-bred filly, but with the absence of superstar Unique Bella, the prospects look a little better.

Entries: Santa Anita Oaks (G1)

Santa Anita Park, Saturday, April 08, 2017, Race 6

  • Grade I
  • 1 1/16m
  • Dirt
  • $400,000
  • 3 yo Fillies
  • 3:04 PM (local)
11Mopotism (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateMario Gutierrez121Doug F. O'Neill6/1
22It Tiz Well (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateCorey S. Nakatani121Jerry Hollendorfer5/2
33Paradise Woods (KY)Flavien Prat121Richard E. Mandella6/1
44Abel Tasman (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateMike E. Smith124Bob Baffert6/5
55Bernina Star (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateSantiago Gonzalez121James M. Cassidy12/1
66Majestic Quality (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateKent J. Desormeaux121J. Keith Desormeaux10/1
77Princess Karen (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateGary L. Stevens121Jeff Bonde8/1

6:17 p.m.—$1 million Blue Grass Stakes (G2) at Keeneland

While unbeaten McCraken looms as the favorite, Tapwrit stands as the leading threat to derail the pro-tem divisional leader in their final prep before the first Saturday in May. When he made his seasonal debut against McCraken in the Feb. 11 Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3), Tapwrit came home 1 1/2 lengths in second behind his unblemished rival.

Entries: Toyota Blue Grass S. (G2)

Keeneland, Saturday, April 08, 2017, Race 10

  • Grade II
  • 1 1/8m
  • Dirt
  • $1,000,000
  • 3 yo
  • 6:17 PM (local)
11It's Your Nickel (KY)James Graham123Kenneth G. McPeek20/1
22McCraken (KY)Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr.123Ian R. Wilkes7/5
33J Boys Echo (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateRobby Albarado123Dale L. Romans4/1
44Tapwrit (KY)Jose L. Ortiz123Todd A. Pletcher5/2
55Wild Shot (KY)Corey J. Lanerie123George R. Arnold, II15/1
66Irap (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateJulien R. Leparoux123Doug F. O'Neill20/1
77Practical Joke (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateJoel Rosario123Chad C. Brown7/2

6:25 p.m.—$300,000 Gazelle Stakes (G2) at Aqueduct Racetrack

Both have done everything asked of them this season, producing a string of successes. Now Arlene London's homebred Miss Sky Warrior and Danny Chen's Yorkiepoo Princess meet in the Gazelle, a race that will determine the likelihood of their progression to the Kentucky Oaks.

Entries: Gazelle S. (G2)

Aqueduct Racetrack, Saturday, April 08, 2017, Race 11

  • Grade II
  • 1 1/8m
  • Dirt
  • $300,000
  • 3 yo Fillies
  • 6:25 PM (local)
11Yorkiepoo Princess (FL)Irad Ortiz, Jr.120Edward R. Barker6/1
22Full House (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateRajiv Maragh114James A. Jerkens10/1
33Rimanisempreforte (KY)Luis Saez114Robert N. Falcone, Jr.20/1
44Lockdown (KY)Kendrick Carmouche120William I. Mott5/1
55Miss Sky Warrior (KY)Paco Lopez122Kelly J. Breen9/5
66Aspen Hilltop (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateManuel Franco114Gary C. Contessa15/1
77Tiz Rae Anna (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateRosario Montanez114John T. Toscano, Jr.20/1
88North End (NY)Javier Castellano114Chad C. Brown7/2
99Stay Fond (KY)John R. Velazquez114Todd A. Pletcher8/1

7:12 p.m.—$1 million Santa Anita Derby (G1) at Santa Anita Park

If there are no scratches in the $1 million Santa Anita Derby (G1) April 8, the 13-horse field entering the gate will be the largest since 1981 for the West Coast's top Triple Crown prep race. With the injury of undefeated Mastery , the Triple Crown trail on the West Coast has changed entirely, and that was reflected in the Santa Anita Derby entry box.

Entries: Santa Anita Derby (G1)

Santa Anita Park, Saturday, April 08, 2017, Race 8

  • Grade I
  • 1 1/8m
  • Dirt
  • $1,000,000
  • 3 yo
  • 4:12 PM (local)
11Term of Art (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateTyler Baze124Doug F. O'Neill12/1
22Reach the World (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateMike E. Smith124Bob Baffert5/1
33Battle of Midway (KY)Corey S. Nakatani124Jerry Hollendorfer5/1
44Comma Sister (KY)Israel Ocampo124George Papaprodromou50/1
55So Conflated (FL)Keeneland Sales GraduateMario Gutierrez124Doug F. O'Neill15/1
66American Anthem (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateMartin Garcia124Bob Baffert5/1
77Kimbear (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateJoseph Talamo124J. Eric Kruljac12/1
88Gormley (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateVictor Espinoza124John A. Shirreffs9/2
99Iliad (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateFlavien Prat124Doug F. O'Neill7/2
1010Milton Freewater (CA)Tiago Josue Pereira124Doug F. O'Neill30/1
1111Irish Freedom (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateRafael Bejarano124Bob Baffert20/1
1212Midnight Pleasure (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateJamie Theriot124Mick Ruis30/1
1313Royal Mo (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateGary L. Stevens124John A. Shirreffs10/1

7:45 p.m.—$150,000 Providencia Stakes (G3T) at Santa Anita Park

Although he is confident Joe Turner's undefeated Sircat Sally can run on either turf or dirt, trainer Jerry Hollendorfer is keeping the homebred Surf Cat filly on the grass. Her last two starts have been stakes wins over the Santa Anita grass and during her juvenile season she won the Soviet Problems Stakes on dirt at Los Alamitos Race Course.

Entries: Providencia S. (G3T)

Santa Anita Park, Saturday, April 08, 2017, Race 9

  • Grade IIIT
  • 1 1/8m
  • Turf
  • $150,000
  • 3 yo Fillies
  • 4:45 PM (local)
11Sircat Sally (CA)Mike E. Smith120Jerry Hollendorfer1/1
982Union Strike (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateSCRATCHED0UNKNOWN-
23You Missed It (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateMario Gutierrez120Doug F. O'Neill12/1
34Beau Recall (IRE)Joseph Talamo120Simon Callaghan5/2
45Princess Roi (CA)Corey S. Nakatani120Richard Baltas5/1
56War Moccasin (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateTiago Josue Pereira120Tim McCanna20/1
67Tiburtina (IRE)Gary L. Stevens120Patrick Gallagher12/1
78Emphatically (FL)Flavien Prat120Thomas F. Proctor5/1

Sunday, April 9

3:38 p.m.—$150,000 Distaff Handicap (G3) at Aqueduct Racetrack

Repole Stable's homebred Clipthecouponannie's undefeated record will be on the line when she steps up in class Sunday. She enters off 2 1/4-length score in a Dec. 16 six-furlong allowance/optional claiming race at Gulfstream Park. One start prior, in her only stakes attempt, she won the Franklin Square Stakes by a half-length in a front-running fashion.

Entries: Distaff H. (G3)

Aqueduct Racetrack, Sunday, April 09, 2017, Race 5

  • Grade III
  • 7f
  • Dirt
  • $150,000
  • 4 yo's & up Fillies and Mares
  • 3:38 PM (local)
11Tale for Ruby (KY)Edgar S. Prado116Barclay Tagg6/1
22Highway Star (NY)Angel S. Arroyo117Rodrigo A. Ubillo10/1
33Kelsocait (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateManuel Franco114Gary C. Contessa20/1
44Carrumba (KY)John R. Velazquez117Claude R. McGaughey III1/1
55Indulgent (KY)Irad Ortiz, Jr.116Kiaran P. McLaughlin5/1
66Clipthecouponannie (NY)Rajiv Maragh116Todd A. Pletcher7/2

5:57 p.m.—$150,000 Beaumont Stakes (G3) at Keeneland

Chadds Ford Stables' grade 1 winner Dancing Rags aims to kick off her 3-year-old campaign by channeling some old magic over the Keeneland surface. The daughter of Union Rags had a most successful visit to the Lexington track in October. In her graded stakes debut and third start, she used a stalk-and-pounce trip to capture the Darley Alcibiades Stakes (G1) by a length.

Entries: Adena Springs Beaumont S. (G3)

Keeneland, Sunday, April 09, 2017, Race 8

  • Grade III
  • About 7f
  • Dirt
  • $150,000
  • 3 yo Fillies
  • 4:57 PM (local)
11Laney (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateJulien R. Leparoux118Eddie Kenneally10/1
22My Miss Chiff (LA)Mitchell Murrill118Albert M. Stall, Jr.8/1
33Sweet Loretta (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateJavier Castellano123Todd A. Pletcher7/5
44Treble (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateJose L. Ortiz118Ron Moquett6/1
55Dancing Rags (MD)Keeneland Sales GraduateAngel Cruz123H. Graham Motion9/5
66Sine Wave (KY)Florent Geroux118Benjamin W. Perkins, Jr.12/1
77Promises Broken (KY)Robby Albarado118Philip A. Sims12/1

7:30 p.m.—$75,000 Santa Paula Stakes at Santa Anita Park

Back to serious training in 2017, Rockingham Ranch's Chalon, the only horse to beat Unique Bella, will make her return to racing Sunday. Among the other entrants are grade 1 winner Union Strike, who won the 2016 Del Mar Debutante (G1); a pair of highly regarded maiden winners from the barn of Bob Baffert in Charlatana and Life's Blessings; and 9 1/4-length debut winner Selcourt.

Entries: Santa Paula S.

Santa Anita Park, Sunday, April 09, 2017, Race 9

  • STK
  • 6 1/2f
  • Dirt
  • $75,000
  • 3 yo Fillies
  • 4:41 PM (local)
11Auntjenn (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateRafael Bejarano120Peter Miller15/1
22Mistressofthenight (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateCorey S. Nakatani120Richard Baltas15/1
33Union Strike (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateBrice Blanc124Mick Ruis6/1
44Selcourt (KY)Tyler Baze120John W. Sadler8/5
55Charlatana (KY)Martin Garcia120Bob Baffert5/1
66Life's Blessings (KY)Flavien Prat120Bob Baffert5/2
77Chalon (KY)Norberto Arroyo, Jr.120Peter Miller4/1