The summer stakes race season forges on as the field for several races in this fall’s Breeders’ Cup continue to take shape. This annual highlight of the thoroughbred racing season is slated for Oct. 30 & 31st at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky and it will feature 13 races over the two-day event.
The excitement building up to Breeders’ Cup continues this Saturday with a pair of Grade 1 stakes races on turf for three-year olds starting with the Del Mar Oaks at Del Mar and from Arlington Park the Secretariat Stakes. The following is a look at a few of my top sports picks for each of these races.
Del Mar Oaks- Del Mar Thoroughbred Club
The Del Mar Oaks is a Grade 1 stakes race for three-year old fillies. It is contested on turf over a distance of 1 1/8 miles with a total prize purse of $300,000.
A full field of eight fillies are set to compete in this year’s Del Mar Oaks and the one at the top of my list is Sunset Glow. After posting a highly successful campaign as a two-year old that included a second-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Santa Anita, she has finished in the money in all three races she has run this year. Trained by Wesley Ward, Sunset Glow took second her last time out in the Grade 2 San Clemente Handicap at Del Mar on July 19.
Another horse to put on your list for Saturday’s Del Mar Oaks is Rattataptap. This three-year old filly is trained by Jeff Bonde and while she is still looking for her first victory in a graded stakes race, she has shown some solid progress over the course of this racing season. She placed fourth in the Grade 3 Senorita Stakes on the turf at Santa Anita Park in late June after posting a fifth-place finish in the Santa Paula Stakes on April 4 at that same track. In her only race as a two-year old, Rattataptap won a Maiden Special Weight at Del Mar.
A few of the other contenders entered in this year Del Mar Oaks are Sharla Rae, Prize Exhibit and Zipessa.
Secretariat Stakes- Arlington Park
The Secretariat Stakes is a Grade 1 event for three-year old thoroughbreds that is run on turf over a distance of 1 ¼ miles. The total price purse for this year’s race from Arlington Park is $500,000.
Some of the top three-year turf horses in the nation are set to compete in this year’s Secretariat Stakes, but my top pick would be Force the Pass. Trained by Alan Goldberg, this three-year old colt has been on an amazing run this year with four victories and two second-place finishes in six events. After a second and first-place finish in his first two Maiden Special Weight events, he won the Cutler Bay Stakes at Gulfstream Park in early March. More recently, Force the Pass made the most impressive run of his career with a victory in the Grade 1 Belmont Derby at Belmont Park on the 4th of July holiday.
Another three-year old colt that has caught my eye for Saturday’s race is trainer Michael Maker’s Granny’s Kitten. He fell to a disappointing eighth in the Belmont Derby, but prior to that he remained right in the mix with Force the Pass in the Grade 3 Penn Mile at Penn National on May 30. While Force the Pass went on to win that race as well, Granny’s Kitchen hung with the lead pack to finish third.
A couple of foreign entries to keep an eye on for the Secretariat are Highland Reel and War Dispatch. Both of these three-year olds have posted an impressive campaign in Europe and the UK this past year.