HALLANDALE BEACH, FL, September 3, 2021 – Holiday weekends always have been one of racing’s big things, whatever the time of year: Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day. Pick any of them; priceless.
Time was when one could name the big race associated with the big occasion. Memorial Day was the Met Mile, July 4th the Brooklyn, and on and on Then it all got very competitive.
Stakes have been moved around, the biggest of them used as the lynchpin of readily promotable event day programs when famous horses ran in famous races. The problem is everyone caught on to the modern trend.
The Labor Day weekend beginning Saturday is one of those occasions when horseplayers need at least three 36-hour days to get all their handicapping, wagering, and rooting done.
My hair will begin to hurt in earnest tomorrow when time comes to decide which races and places will focus our attention. I have two: Saturday at the Spa featuring the Grade 1 Flower Bowl and Jockey Club Gold Cup as the sun starts to set on the 2021 Saratoga stand.
But wait, there’s more: The babies, among other wannabe champions, are coming. Labor Day in Saratoga: Are you anticipating the Grade 1 Hopeful and Spinaway? I know we are come Sunday and Monday.
However, Kentucky Downs gets underway Sunday and Monday, the beginning of a gluttonous boutique. Six days of all turf all the time, Euro style, with twists and turns over the unique course hard by the Kentucky-Tennessee border: Hardboot Ascot.
Why Kentucky Downs? Big purses, big fields, big payoffs, and a player-friendly rake. KD entries have been drawn for SEP 5th, 6th, and 8th. In all, 160 pages of BRIS PPs for three days. You get big fields when maidens run for $135K, when NX1s go for $145,800.
Three-year-olds take center stage on opening day at the former Dueling Grounds Racetrack with, appropriately, the $500,000 Dueling Grounds Oaks and the $750,000 Dueling Grounds Derby. Both races are at a testing 1-5/16 miles trip.
Brad Cox saddles Oaks favorite Adventuring (3-1) with Joel Rosario and Bill Mott picks up the mantel with DuJour, the 5-2 Derby early line choice with Rosario going for a double dip.
Supporting the JGGC and Flower Bowl at the Spa, where the early line choices are, respectively, Forza Di Oro (8-5) and War Like Goddess (4-5), also Mott trainees. Junior Alvarado rides the former, Julien Leparoux, the latter.
A-B-C WAGERING GRID JOCKEY CLUB GOLD CUP LATE P5
G3 SARANAC STAKES Race 8
A: 4-Never Surprised (8-5), 2-Like the King (6-1), 1-Public Sector (7-5)
C: 6-Mohs (12-1), 5-Founder (4-1)
ALLOWANCES – TURF Race 9
A: 1A-Cara’s Dreamer (3-1), 5-Golden Oldie (10-1), 10-English Breeze (5-2)
C: 3-Electric Youth (5-1), 6-Just OK Is Not OK (8-1), 7-Freedom Machine (8-1)
ALLOWANCES – DIRT SPRINT Race 10
A: 9-Crowded Trade (5-1), 8-Baby Yoda (6-1), 10-Hometown (4-1), 6-Olympiad (8-1), 3-Ducale (5-2)
GRADE 1 FLOWER BOWL Race 11
A: 3-War Like Goddess (4-5)
B: 4-My Sister Nat (5-1), 1-La Signare (5-1), 6-Great Island (4-1)
GRADE 1 JOCKEY CLUB GOLD CUP Race 12
A: 4-Happy Saver (9-5), 1-Forza Di Oro (8-5)
B: 2-Max Player (5-2)
C: 5-Night Ops (5-1)
Vertical Players Note: Horses may be upgraded or downgraded no more than one level, scratches notwithstanding. When more than one horse is listed in a category, grading preference extend from left to right
This is a live column and will be updated periodically