The summer racing season is upon us as the Del Mar and Saratoga meets will get underway over the next week. Del Mar gets underway next Wednesday afternoon and Saratoga’s 149th meeting kicks off a week from this afternoon at the Spa.
In addition to those two major summer meets, a week from this coming Tuesday, our area’s signature race, the $500,000 Prince of Wales Stakes, will be run at Fort Erie Race Track on July 25. The second jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown will be run for the 82nd time. The race has been contested at the border oval since 1959.
Post time for the twilight card for the Prince of Wales is 4:20 p.m. and if you’ve never been, it is the best night of racing in our area with a half million dollar stakes race on the line.
Queen’s Plate second-place finisher Tiz A Slam (pictured) is confirmed for the Prince of Wales and breezed 5 furlongs on Wednesday morning at Woodbine in 1:02.40 in preparation for the race. Trainer Roger Attfield, who has won a record eight Queen’s Plates, will be seeking his fifth Prince of Wales victory. His last win came in 2005 with Ablo.
Fort Erie should be releasing a list of probable starters for the race in the next few days. We will keep you posted right as information becomes available.
The field will be drawn next Friday at Noon, be sure to check back here for the results of the draw. Fort Erie is planning on live streaming the draw on Facebook Live next Friday. Plate winner Holy Helena, as expected, will skip the second leg of the Triple Crown and point to a possible trip to Saratoga and face a strong set of 3-year-old fillies in the Alabama. She earned a 96 Beyer Speed Figure (BSF) in the Plate and her Woodbine Oaks performance was upgraded from a 90 to a 95 BSF.
Saratoga’s opening weekend will be anchored by Sunday’s Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks and the annual 2-year-old races on Friday for the fillies (Schuylerville) and Saturday for the colts (Sanford). The Grade 1 Diana on the turf will highlight next Saturday’s card.
For the third straight year, yours truly will be the feature handicapper for Saratoga Tracksider with daily top three selections and a Best Bet. The app now has an artificial intelligence (AI) tool, the first of its kind in a racing.
Irish War Cry and Classic Empire look to be headed to the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on July 30. Always Dreaming and Cloud Computing are pointed towards the Jim Dandy, so a showdown between the Derby and Preakness winners will highlight the July 29 Spa card. The Travers could include a possible matchup of all three classic winners. Belmont third-place finisher Patch is probable for the Curlin Stakes at Saratoga on July 28.
Arrogate’s first race since returning with a Dubai World Cup victory in tow will be next Saturday July 22 at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in the $200,000 San Diego Handicap. He will be looking for his third straight victory of the year after wins in Dubai and the $12 million Pegasus in January.
With the Breeders’ Cup Classic scheduled for Nov. 4 at Del Mar, it looks like Arrogate will continue to train and race there (Pacific Classic probably next) through the Classic. The main upset threat is Gun Runner, who is stabled at Saratoga and pointed at the Whitney on Aug. 4.
This weekend’s feature race is the Grade 1 Delaware Handicap, where Songbird is the 1-5 favorite against five other fillies and mares. She’ll be carrying 124 pounds; more than 10 pounds greater than four of the five other starters, Martini Glass will carry 115.
Delaware Park’s signature race has a purse of $750,000 and has a storied group of former winners. It’s expected that Songbird will add her name to that list. Mike Smith will fly across the country to ride last year’s 3-year-old filly champion in the Del Cap.
Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and tweets @EquiSpace.