Yes, the classic Saratoga meet is concluded, but no, the horse-racing industry California simulcast bettors love won’t grow quiet.
A pair of $1 million turf races on Saturday bear that out at Aqueduct and Woodbine racetracks. So does a blockbuster card at Churchill Downs in Louisville, and a $500,000 race at Monmouth Park in New Jersey.
What a lineup. California bettors can access it all via the TVG app or at simulcast locations. Golden State gamblers will adjust their clocks just as they do for the NFL. The majority of East Coast first posts fall between 9 and 10 a.m.
Here’s a preview of the rich betting package along with our weekly look at unsung heroes, the longshots who embody the dream of the game.
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One of the big races unfolds at Aqueduct Racetrack in New York.
It’s the $1 million Jockey Club Derby, the final leg of horse racing’s Turf Triple Crown. It features a rematch between Classic Causeway and Nation’s Pride, winners of the first two events.
The Jockey Club Derby highlights the first weekend of Aqueduct’s fall meet, which runs Sept. 15-Oct. 30. Racing unfolds Thursday-Sunday. A filly companion, the Jockey Club Oaks, appears on this card and is run for $700,000.
The first post on Saturday is 10 a.m.
Keep an eye on how these races are labeled. In many locations, its’s called “Belmont at the Big A,” meaning that the Belmont Park meet has been transferred to Aqueduct because of track renovations.
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Jockey Club Derby
Classic Causeway shocked the insiders by winning the first leg, the Belmont Derby, in July.
He had been a dirt specialist, the winner of the Tampa Bay Derby, and had run 11th in the Kentucky Derby. What was this high-profile horse doing in a $1 million turf race, against well-known international entries?
Winning it, actually. Classic Causeway loves the front end and got out to his customary early lead. But the field let him get away to a cozy pace and he hung on to win at 26-to-1 in his turf debut. It turns out he had Storm Cat breeding, which is always good on turf, but in essence the field let him steal the race.
Nation’s Pride took care of business in the rematch, the Saratoga Derby, by staying within five lengths during the first half of the event. Nation’s Pride collared Classic Causeway around the turn and beat him definitively. Classic Causeway was third.
They headline this 1 1/2-mile rubber match.
The race includes Ardakan, who finished third in his debut in the Grade I Grosser Preis von Berlin last month.
James Jones enters off of an allowance level victory at Saratoga and must prove the ability to move up.
Woodbine, outside of Toronto, unfurls its own special three-race package worth over $2 million in purses.
The Woodbine Mile headlines the program at $1 million. The Pattison Summer Stakes and the Natalma Stakes are $500,000 each. The first post is 10:10 a.m.
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Here is a look at the probables listed for the Woodbine Mile. Most of these horses will run, some may not. Post time is 2:35 p.m.
Modern Games will always have a unique connection to the game.
He won the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last year running for purse money only. Stewards had inadvertently scratched him before the start of the race, thinking he had been injured by another horse rearing up in his stall.
Stewards allowed a quick re-examination of Modern Games, determined he could run, and mandated it was for purse only.
Bettors missed out on the money but saw him win decisively.
He has come up short in a couple other international efforts, including the Sussex Stakes in Great Britain, where he ran second and went the opposite direction around the track, per regulations.
He comes into Woodbine on a good form cycle.
Filo Di Arianna also will be highly played, coming off three straight triumphs including the Connaught Cup and King Edward Stakes races.
Ivar captured the Jonathan B. Schuster Stakes after running a good third in the Breeders’ Cup Mile last year. He has some pedigree coming into this event.
Wakanaka has a win over the track, prevailing the Grade II Dance Smartly at Woodbine in July.
Town Cruise won this event last year, but hasn’t hit the board in three subsequent efforts. One of them was a fifth-place finish to Filo Di Arianna in the King Edward Stakes.
March to the Arch was fourth in the King Edward, making a definitive move from last. A switch in tactics, giving him more forward early placement, might be expected.
War Bomber won a nice Woodbine race, the Seagram Cup, last month.
Mighty Heart is struggling to recapture past form. He has run on the fringes, often third, in the five races since he won the Autumn Grade II at Woodbine last year.
Get Smokin has hit the wall in graded-stakes company and would not figure to beat this group.
Shirl’s Speight was a distant fifth to Filo Di Arianna in the Connaught Cup.
Homer Screen is still looking for his first win and may be over his head here.
Finest Sound has been running in the money without winning overseas and tries to improve enough to win.
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Churchill Downs (9:45 a.m. first post) offers a bettor’s delight and a challenge to monitor one’s bankroll.
The first six races all have double-digit sized fields. It’s hard to get the winning exotic combinations but the payouts could be exceptional. They are followed by a string of solid stakes races:
- $300,000 Open Mind Stakes
- $400,000 Locust Grove Stakes
- $300,000 Iroquois Stakes
- $275,000 Louisville Thoroughbred Society Stakes
- $300,000 Pocahontas Stakes
These races offer shorter fields, big-name trainers, and an elite quality of racing.
Monmouth Park in New Jersey packs a wallop with the $500,000 Nownownow Stakes, its last major showcase of the season. It is Race 11 on a card that starts at 9:15 a.m.
Salute to Longshots
Here is an excerpt from California Casinos racing coverage last week regarding Gulfstream Park’s Saturday racing card:
“The first race is a bottom-of-the-barrel $12,500 affair. But it has a 12-horse field. That could mean a false favorite. Whether or not a big payday emerges, is this the breeding grounds for it.”
Well, it paid. A field of 11 went postward. None had captured a race.
The false favorite in this case was Follow Q T R. He was 2-to-1 and ran out of the money, finishing fifth. He was leaking oil in the homestretch and was nipped one step before the wire for fourth.
When 3-to-1 shot King D also labored in the stretch, he was overtaken just before the wire by Shipwreck, at 35-to-1.
And just for good measure, 5-to-1 shot Poetic Code got up for second at the wire.
That exacta paid a whopping $659. King D completed the trifecta and it paid a handsome $2,286 for the $1 tri.
Voice of Now, 4-to-1, completed the superfecta and the $1 super paid $7,073.30. And that meant the 10-cent super paid $707.33.
Anybody who loved Shipwreck made a fortune just by betting him on the nose. He paid $80.40 on the $2 win bet.
Why it paid: The longest shot ran on top, and the 2-to-1 favorite ran just out of the money. The second, third, and fourth horses, ranging from 3-to-1 to 5-to-1, all could have been played.
Some may have cashed the superfecta by boxing six horses in the 10-cent superfecta. It costs $36. With no clear-cut favorite and a big field, it’s often a good play. Heck, a player could put the favorite in the ticket as one of the six and still collect when he ran out.
Good luck finding your winners this weekend.
There is so much to choose from.