There are two choices for fans and bettors of notable interest this weekend and neither racing event is being staged in a big city near you, unless you live in Nashville or Toronto, of course.
And it turns out that the American Triple Crown was not the only three-year-old triad effected by Covid rescheduling. The Canadian-Grade 1 Queen’s Plate is a race for early summer not premature fall, but Woodbine will have its day.
If it’s Nashville, however,it’s only a 35-mile hop, skip and jump northeast on I-65 to Franklin, Ky. But when you get there, it might as well be Canada, or Great Britain, or anywhere in the world where it’s all grass all the time.
Only five of 14 entered in the $1-million Queen’s Plate for Canadian-breds raced below the border–without distinction. This year’s renewal does not boast household equine names, Holyfield and Belichick of contact-sports fame notwithstanding.
The Plate favorites are Clayton (2-1) a three-time winner in four starts including the Plate Trial, and accomplished filly Curlin’s Voyage (5-2) at 5-for-9, including three stakes. She was a good second in her lone try v males and gets 3 pounds today at 123.
Kentucky Downs has done great business thus far. It’s renown for upsets, the result of the most challenging group of races ever carded featuring full, diverse fields on a teardrop-shaped European-style course, replete with left turns, right turns and undulations.
At this posting, Tyler Gaffalione is the leading rider and Wesley Ward is winning with just about everything he sends post-ward. He’s loaded for Saturday’s card that offers five graded stakes, four graded, offering obscene purses; an aggregate $3.2 million.
And for that kind of money everybody shows up. The lynchpin is the $1-million Kentucky Turf Cup Stakes which lured 16, four are Also-Eligible, boasting a pair of starters from Arnaud Delacour, Graham Motion and Mike Maker.
Where’s Chad? Mr. Brown is in three of the four remaining races, including a pair for the Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf. He saddles Regal Glory (6-5), who is fresh and getting class relief after meeting formidable mate Newspaperofrecord twice recently.
In the KD Ladies Sprint at 6-1/2 furlongs, Mark Casse’s returned-to-form Got Stormy (2-1) turns back to meet Kimari, who was an excellent second for Ward vs. males in the Group 1 Coronation Cup at Royal Ascot, beating 14 other rivals.
In the Juvenile Turf Sprint, the lone ungraded stake, it will be Ward v Ward. The meet’s leader will tighten the girth on impressive Saratoga debut graduate Outadore (2-1), and Fauci (5-2), second in the Spa’s Skidmore behind the extremely promising Golden Pal.
Familiar names in the Turf Cup include Arklow (9-2, Brad Cox), marathon specialist Red Knight (12-1), who comes in fresh for Bill Mott, and the highly accomplished natural marathoner Zulu Alpha (7-5) for Mike Maker with Tyler in the boot.
The finale is the highly entertaining Turf Sprint in which Horse for Course Totally Boss (9-2) will attempt to repeat for Rusty Arnold; Ward’s Bound for Nowhere (5-1), scratched opening day for this, Motion’s speedy Kanthaka (5-1) with Jose Ortiz and Imprimis for Joe Orseno (8-1), brother Irad looking for the upset.
Saturday: We will share some opinions on how these races shake out. Bring money; you’ll need it.