The final Saturday in July is set up to be a big day for horse bettors with a pair of major graded stakes races at both Saratoga Race Course in New York with the Diana Stakes and at Del Mar in California with the San Diego Handicap.
The following is a closer look at a few horses to watch in both these races when it comes to cashing-in at the betting window.
Diana Stakes- Saratoga Race Course
The Diana Stakes is the main event on Saturday’s card at the grand opening weekend of Saratoga’s summer season. It is a Grade 1 stakes race for three-year old and up fillies and mares contested on turf over a distance of 1 1/8 miles. The total prize purse is set at $500,000.
A solid field of seven horses have already been entered into this race, but the filly at the top of my list is Tepin. Trained by Mark Casse, this four-year old brings a three-race winning streak into this year’s Diana Stakes. This run started with an allowance race victory at Gulfstream Park in late March. From there she went on to win the Grade 2 Distaff Turf Mile at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day in May. Tepin’s latest victory came in this year’s Grade 1 Just A Game Stakes at Belmont on the same day American Pharoah laid claim to this year’s Triple Crown.
Another horse high on my list for this race is Stephanie’s Kitten. This mare is a six-year old veteran that knows her way around a race track. Trained by Chad Brown, she has finished in the money in five of her last six races starting with a second-place finish in last year’s Diana Stakes. She followed that up with a big win in the Grade 1 Flower Bowl Invitational at Belmont and a second-place finish in last year’s Filly and Mare Turf as part of the 2014 Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita Park.
A few other contenders you might want to take a closer look at to fill in your top three would be Kitten’s Queen, Hard Not To Like and Waltzing Matilda.
San Diego Handicap- Del Mar Thoroughbred Club
The San Diego Handicap is a Grade 2 stakes race for three-year olds and up contested on dirt over a distance of 1 1/16 miles. The total prize purse for this year’s event is set at $200,000.
There are already eight horses entered into Saturday’s race and this is shaping up to be a solid field from top to bottom. One horse in this race with some gaudy credentials would be Bayern. Trainer Bob Baffert has already had a very successful run with this four-year old colt. Following a disappointing ninth-place finish in last year’s Preakness Stakes, Bayern came into his own with a first-place finish in the Grade 2 Woody Stephens Stakes at Belmont followed by a huge victory in the prestigious Breeders’ Cup Classic. The only downside is that he has finished out of the money in his only two races this year.
Baffert’s other entry in this year’s San Diego Handicap is Hoppertunity. This four-year old colt has been on a tremendous run over the past two years by finishing in the money in nine of 10 events including four victories. He started this season with a first-place finish in the Grade 2 San Pasqual Stakes at Santa Anita and just a few weeks ago he posted a solid second-place run in this year’s Grade 1 Gold Cup at that same venue.
A third horse you can throw into the mix for Saturday would be Catch A Flight. This five-year old veteran continues to be a solid bet with three victories to go along with another three third-place finishes in six races this year. Trained by Richard Mandella, his biggest payday was a win in the Grade 2 Californian Stakes at Santa Anita in late May.
A few of the other horses that could figure into the mix on Saturday includes Sahara Sky, Nowalking and Appealing Tale.