Weekend Stakes Preview - 06/14/13
The Triple Crown series may be over, but that does not mean there needs to be a lil between now and the opening of Saratoga. There is a great weekend of racing on tap beginning later this afternoon with the much anticipated return of Mucho Macho Man. He is entered in the Criminal Type Stakes at Belmont. It is the third race on a nine race card.
Mucho Macho Man will run against four others, including Hymn Book. Mucho Macho Man has not run since January when he was eased in the Sunshine Millions at Gulfstream. Prior to that, he had not finished worse than third since he finished seventh in the 2011 Belmont Stakes. I have always been high on this horse. He was my choice in the Kentucky Derby when he finished third and his place in the Breeders' Cup Classic last year was well deserved. He is by far the classiest of the field for this afternoon and should run impressively in his return. The only thing that stands in his way would be a muddy track, something he has not handled very well in the past.
The Saturday card at Belmont features a pair of G-III stakes races, the Bed o' Roses and the Hill Prince. Dance to Bristol is making her anticipated return to racing after more than a year on the shelf. She has never finished worse than fourth in six career starts. A small field of six entered there. In the Hill Prince, 12 horses are entered with some familiar names like Infinite Magic, Bernie The Jet and Notacatbutallama.
At Churchill Downs on Saturday, Royal Delta is the ML favorite in the G-II Fleur De Lis. She is coming off a disappointing 10th place finish in the Dubai World Cup. Royal Delta won this race last year and should do the same this weekend. Then, the G-I Stephen Foster. Six horses will go to the gate including Breeders' Cup Classic winner Fort Larned. For a short field, it sure is competitive with the likes of Travers winner Golden Ticket, defending Stephen Foster champion Ron The Greek, Take Charge Indy, Pool Play and Successful Dan who is still looking for his first G-I win. They will be racing after dark so post time for the Stephen Foster is around 9:39pm.
On Sunday, I will be heading down to New Jersey, to the Shore's Greatest Stretch, my home track, Monmouth Park. A Father's Day tradition in my family is to spend the day at Monmouth and we won't be disappointed. The G-III Pegasus features two Kentucky Derby runners in Verrazano and Itsmyluckyday. Verrazano finished a disappointing 14th in the Derby last month and should appreciate a smaller field and shorter distance on Sunday. Itsmyluckday skipped the Belmont after finishing second behind Oxbow in the Preakness. Should be a good duel near the front between these two.
So that's the quick weekend preview with plenty to watch out for. The older horses will now start to take center stage heading into summer. We will be tweeting from Monmouth Park on Sunday so follow @TheChalkBlog for updates.