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Post Time: Friday racing notebook

This weekend we get a breather from the Derby Trail, after three prep races over the course of last weekend. Next Saturday there will be three 50-point races for the taking between the Gotham (Aqueduct), San Felipe (Santa Anita) and the Tampa Bay Derby (Tampa Bay Downs).

Here's a bit of the goings on in and around the track….

  • Woodbine announced its stakes schedule for 2015 on Tuesday which includes 102 stakes races totaling over $20 million in purses. Key dates include July 5 (Queen’s Plate), Sept. 13 (Ricoh Woodbine Mile) and Oct. 18 (Pattison International). “We’re very proud to present a strong stakes schedule for 2015 which features 40 graded stakes, highlighted by a quartet of Grade One events - - the Ricoh Woodbine Mile, Northern Dancer, Pattison Canadian International and E.P. Taylor Stakes - - which continue to draw some of the biggest names in racing, from across North America and Europe, to Toronto,” said Steve Lym, Woodbine’s Director of Racing.
  • As big a supporter of Woodbine racing around, I still can’t figure out why they schedule their big stakes races on Sundays, especially during the Fall season, when they are going up against the powerful NFL. It would certainly be a more leisurely trip for Western New Yorkers to head up on a Saturday as opposed to the last day of the weekend.
  • The Jockey Club Tour on Fox still hasn’t announced its full 2015 telecast schedule, although I believe the Dubai World Cup is the next scheduled broadcast later in March. I’m somewhat perplexed as to why no announcement has been made.
  • Looks like Tonalist will miss the Dubai World Cup. My pick in last year’s Classic after a solid win in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, will miss the big $10 million race in Dubai.
  • World Cup day on March 28 should be a dandy with California Chrome running in the World Cup and two hot Derby prospects squaring off in the UAE Derby, a race with 100 points and a gate in the Derby available to the winner. Godolphin’s Maftool and the Mike de Kock-trained Mubtaahij will face off again after a 1-2 finish in the UAE 2000 Guineas.
  • The first Derby Dozen, of which yours truly is a panelist, is up and Todd Pletcher’s Far From Over (Blame) and Dortmund (Big Brown) have captured a share of the top spot.
  • Take Charge Brandi’s connections confirmed on Wednesday that they will be taking a shot with the filly in a Derby prep race at Oaklawn Park against colts, in the Rebel Stakes on March 14. Any points earned by her in the Rebel also count towards the Kentucky Oaks qualifying. It seems like a lofty spot for the daughter of Giant’s Causeway for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner. She’ll be facing top Derby prospect American Pharoah on trainer Bob Baffert’s favorite racing surface.
  • The Breeders’ Cup announced tickets will go on sale on March 4 for the two-day Championship Meeting on Oct. 30-31 at Keeneland Race Course.

Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and tweets @EquiSpace.

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