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We’ll take the turf this weekend with five graded stakes races going on the grass throughout North America, led by the Grade 2 Eddie Read at Del Mar on Saturday. Saratoga and Woodbine will also do their part to highlight grass racing on the last weekend of July.
Despite all the turf talk, the most prestigious race of the weekend will come in the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga, featuring the division-leading Kentucky Oaks winner, Malathaat. The historic CCA Oaks will be one of three featured races from Saratoga on our menu.
Here is a look at the six races, beginning with Friday’s wide-open Lake George on the turf at the Spa.
No trainer has dominated Saratoga turf racing like Chad Brown, and on Friday he will send out four fillies, all with a chance, in the Grade 3 Lake George. The $150,000 test for 3-year-old fillies will be run at one mile over the Spa’s inner turf course and features the graded stakes winner Fluffy Socks, as well as impressive allowance winners Amy C, Minaun and Technical Analysis, all from the Brown barn.
If the four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer is to be denied in this one, the speedy Jouster could be the one to get the job done. The Todd Pletcher trained filly has already won three times on the turf, including a wire-to-wire score in the Grade 2 Appalachian at Keeneland two starts back.
Our Pick: Jouster (5/1) – I like her controlling speed the best in this very wide-open turf event.
The undefeated Malathaat, who will be making her first start since winning the Kentucky Oaks on April 30, is the standout in a tiny field of four set for Saturday’s Grade 1, $500,000 Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga. The division-leading daughter of Curlin also counts the Grade 1 Ashland and last year’s Grade 2 Demoiselle among her five career victories.
Clairiere, Maracuja and Rockpaperscissors were the only three entered to challenge Malathaat in her return. Each has some positives on its side, but it is Clairiere who holds a distinct class edge over the other two. Also a daughter of Curlin, she has not won since taking the Grade 2 Rachel Alexandra at Fair Grounds in February but has competed well in three subsequent starts in graded stakes company.
Our Pick: Clairiere (3/1) – Malathaat is clearly the one to beat, but with the odds discrepancy, I will take a shot on this talented graded stakes winner.
Robin Sparkles and Caravel, second and third respectively in the License Fee at Belmont Park back in April, will renew acquaintances when they headline a field of six signed on for Saturday’s Caress Stakes. The 5 ½ furlong sprint will be contested over the Saratoga turf, where both mares have excelled during their careers.
Owned by celebrity chef Bobby Flay, Caravel went to Pimlico and Monmouth to win stakes races in her last two and is 6-for-8 lifetime. Meanwhile, Robin Sparkles has won 5-of-6 overall on the grass, with her only loss coming when second in the License Fee.
Our Pick: Caravel (8/5) – She is sharp and ready to run down her main rival in this matchup of turf sprint stars.
Fresh off a win in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile, Smooth Like Strait rates top billing when he faces six other older turf males in the $250,000 Eddie Read Handicap on Saturday at Del Mar. The Michael McCarthy trained son of Midnight Lute is a six-time stakes winner overall and will look to use his high cruising speed to control the 9 furlong turf test from the outset.
Among his challengers will be the millionaire United. A winner of the Grade 3 San Luis Rey earlier this year, the 6-year-old gelding counts a win in last year’s edition of the Eddie Read among his five graded stakes scores. Grade 1 winner Say the Word is another who cannot be discounted in the salty field. The Canadian-bred finished second behind Smooth Like Strait last time in the Shoemaker Mile.
Our Pick: Smooth Like Strait (8/5) – The consistent front runner has never been better and will likely play a successful game of catch me if you can.
Perfect in four starts since coming to America, Going Global will put a five-race winning streak overall on the line when she headlines the field for Saturday’s Grade 2 San Clemente. Not frightened away by the winning streak, eleven other 3-year-old fillies will look to challenge the favorite in the one-mile turf race at Del Mar.
An overpowering winner of the Grade 3 Honeymoon at Santa Anita last time, the Irish-bred Going Global is the one they will all have to beat. Chief among her opponents is the filly who was second choice in the Honeymoon. Although she threw in a poor race that afternoon, Madone is an accomplished young filly, having already won three stakes on the turf.
Our Pick: Closing Remarks (8/1) – The upset selection likes to close at the one-mile trip and has won at Del Mar before.
A Group 1 winner in her native Brazil, Jolie Olimpica will look to return to her winning ways when she tops a wide open field of 12 entered for Saturday’s Grade 2 Nassau Stakes at Woodbine. The one-mile turf race will give the daughter of Drosselmeyer to bounce back after being the beaten favorite in a pair of graded turf sprints this winter at Santa Anita. Now trained by Josie Carroll, she won two graded stakes last year at Santa Anita.
Chief among her challengers are Abscond, who won the Grade 1 Natalma at Woodbine two years ago; Merveilleux, the winner of the $250,000 Wonder Where at Woodbine last October; and Honey Cake, a stakes winner in France who will be making her first start in North America for trainer Jonathan Thomas.
Our Pick: Abscond (5/1) – The Grade 1 winner should appreciate this drop in class after running against Althiqa and Summer Romance last time.
Taken to the races at a very young age, Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Professionally, his work has been published on several leading industry sites. Brian served as the Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, where he still writes a regular column and hosts the popular weekly webcast HorseCenter.
Email: [email protected]
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