As the summer wears on at famed Saratoga Race Course, bettors will now get one of their first looks at a new crop of possible Kentucky Derby hopefuls in this Saturday’s Sanford Stakes.
The 2016 juvenile horse racing season starts to heat up with this graded stakes race featuring a potential field of some of the top up and coming two-year-olds in the nation. Many of the top trainers in the game will be represented by a horse they hope will have what it takes to compete in next year's Triple Crown races.
Sanford Stakes- Saratoga Race Course
The Sanford is a Grade 3 stakes race for two-year-old thoroughbreds. It has a total prize purse of $150,000 and it will be contested on the dirt track at Saratoga over a distance of six furlongs.
The field for Saturday's race is still taking shape with quite a few contenders listed as probable or possible, but if trainer Wesley Ward does decide to run Lady Aurelia this two-year-old Kentucky-bred filly would be my top choice. She has already run twice in her young career starting with a victory at Keeneland in Maiden Weight Special over a distance of 4½ furlongs. Last month over in Great Britain at Ascot Racecourse, she posted her second career victory by winning the Grade 2 Queen Mary Stakes in five furlongs on dirt.
She is already ranked 45th by Horse Racing Nation and on the strength of a win in a major graded event she has a rating of 8.03, though we dont have betting odds up yet.
Looking down the list of the other possible entries for this year Sanford, one horse that caught my eye is trainer Todd Pletcher's Bronson. This two-year-old Kentucky-bred colt has yet to be rated by HRN, but he comes into this race with quite a bit of potential. He has only raced once as a juvenile and it resulted in a victory in a five-furlong Maiden Weight Special at Monmouth Park on June 18.
A pedigree of Cambiocorsa and Medaglia d'Oro, Bronson's progeny can be traced all the way back to Afleet and Seattle Slew.
Bonus Pick: San Diego Handicap- Del Mar Thoroughbred Club
As a prep race for this fall's Breeders Cup Classic, the San Diego Handicap is a Grade 2 stakes race for three-year-olds and up with a total prize purse of $200,000. Saturday's race at Del Mar will be contested on dirt over a distance of 1 1/16 miles.
The field for this year's San Diego Handicap has six horses listed as probable or possible with a very familiar name at the top of the list. California Chrome is listed as probable in what is expected to be one last warm up before running in the Classic later this year at Santa Anita. If trainer Art Sherman's prized five-year-old California-bred horse does run on Saturday, it would be hard not to bet place a betting pick on him winning his fourth-straight race this year.
He has already claimed the top prize in Grade 2 San Pasqual Stakes early in the year at Santa Anita as a prep race for his victory in this year's Grade 1 Dubai World Cup on March 26 over a distance of 1¼ miles.
Another top thoroughbred that is expected to be in Saturday's field is trainer Bob Baffert's Dortmund. While the return on your money will be low, it would be hard not to pair these two together as an obvious exacta play. This four-year-old Kentucky-bred colt has not raced this season after finishing up his three-year-old campaign with back-to-back victories in the non-graded Big Bear Stakes at Santa Anita and the Grade 3 Native Diver Handicap at Del Mar on Nov. 28.
Despite the inactivity, Dortmund would come into this race as the No. 9 ranked horse on HRN's current list with a strong rating of 8.63. We will wait for sportsbooks to post their odds