The two biggest horse racing tracks in the month of August close things out in a fitting manner this Saturday with a pair of great racing cards.
You can also throw in the Grade 3 Virginia Derby with a total prize purse of $250,000 as the featured event at Colonial Downs on Saturday. This event highlights the track’s recent return to live racing in August after shutting down operations a few years back.
Saratoga Race Course’s Saturday Card
The first graded event of interest at Saratoga this week is actually the featured race on this Wednesday’ card. The Grade 3 With Anticipation Stakes is open to two-year-old thoroughbreds as the up-and-coming juveniles on the early 2020 Kentucky Derby Trail. The race will be contested on the dirt track at Saratoga over a distance of 1 1/16 miles.
The early field posted at Horse Racing Nation has eight contenders entered in this race. The one to watch could be trainer George Weaver’s Our Country coming off a Maiden Special Weight victory at Saratoga on Aug. 3. Jockey Manual Franco is expected to get the ride.
Saturday’s race card at Saratoga is filled with four graded events highlighted by this year’s $750,000 Woodward Stakes for three-year and older thoroughbreds. This Grade 1 event will cover 1 1/8 miles on the dirt.
The initial field lists nine entries as either probable or possible. One of the favorites should be Vino Rosso with a HRN rating of 7.72. Trained by Todd Pletcher, this four-year-old Kentucky-bred colt took third in this year’s Grade 1 Whitney’s Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 3.
This followed a victory in the Grade 1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita on May 27 over Gift Box and Lone Sailor. The son of Curlin covered the 1 ¼ miles on dirt in 2:03.00. He has now placed in the money in three of four races this year.
Pletcher also has Bal Harbour listed as probable for Saturday’s main event. This four-year-old colt recently placed second in the Grade 3 Monmouth Cup at that New Jersey track on July 20. This was his third-straight finish in the money over his last three events at Monmouth Park.
Del Mar Thoroughbred Club’s Saturday Card
A few two-year-old fillies will have a chance to make an early name for themselves this Saturday at Del Mar in the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante Stakes. This seven-furlong sprint on the dirt track offers a total prize purse of $300,000.
There are seven fillies listed as probable for this race. Both Doug O’Neill and Bob Baffert as a pair of high-profile trainers could have two entries each in this race. O’Neill’s top prospect would be Comical with a 6.48 HRN rating. She will try and bounce back from a fade to sixth her previous time out in the Grade 2 Sorrento Stakes at Del Mar on Aug. 3.
Baffert’s best bet in Saturday’s race would be Bast. This sire of Uncle Mo placed second at Del Mar on Aug. 11 in a 5 ½-furlong Maiden Special Weight race behind trainer John Sadler’s Inspiressa, who is also listed as probable for the Debutante Stakes.
Also on Saturday’s Del Mar card is the Grade 2 John C. Mabee Stakes for three-year and older fillies and mares. This event will be contested on the turf track over a distance of 1 1/8 miles with a total prize purse of $200,000. The early field has eight contenders listed as probable, including trainer Patrick Gallagher’s La Force with a HRN rating of 7.54.