A diverse weekend of American racing action wends its way from the Grade I United Nations on the Monmouth Park turf to the Ohio Derby, the Mystic Lake Derby in Minnesota and on to the San Juan Capistrano marathon.
On the international front, Royal Ascot rolls into its final days with Frankie Dettori on a roll of his own and Grade 1 racing returns to Japan Sunday.
Trainers Chad Brown and Mike Maker each field two runners in Saturday’s $300,000 Grade I United Nations at Monmouth Park. Bigger Picture, trained by Maker, makes his fourth straight appearance in the race and won it in 2017. Maker also fields Zulu Alpha. Brown, who has won the race three times, will saddle Focus Group and Brazilian import Arracho, both of whom are looking for turnarounds. The field of eight will go 1 3/8 miles.
Saturday’s $125,000 (Canadian) Grade III Singspiel Stakes at Woodbine drew a field of five, headed by Tiz a Slam. The 5-year-old son of Tiznow exits a victory in the Grade III Louisville Stakes at Churchill Downs. The field also includes Melmich, a $20,000 claimer way back in 2014 who has way more than paid his way since. The Singspiel is 1 1/2 miles on the lush Woodbine green.
Saturday’s $200,000 Mystic Lake Derby at Canterbury Park is 1 mile on the turf with a field of eight from several points of the compass. Spectralight makes his first start as a 3-year-old and first in the United States after racing in Italy last year. Trainer Mike Maker brings Faraway Kitten from not quite that far away, but from Churchill Downs, and Dunph from Belmont Park. Larry Rivelli brings Bizzee Channel from Arlington. Interesting: Thetrashmanscoming arrives from Prairie Meadows where he has won two in a row, including Prairie Mile, after 14 unsuccessful starts.
Sunday’s $100,000 Grade III San Juan Capistrano at Santa Anita, the traditional season-ender, is 14 furlongs on the greensward — 1 3/4 miles. Entries were pending at press time.
Filly & Mare Turf
A half dozen fillies and mares signed on for Saturday’s $150,000 Grade III Eatontown Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on the Monmouth Park turf. Dynatail comes off a win in the Susquehanna Stakes at Penn National. Valedictorian had a successful winter in Florida but finished eighth in the Grade II Longines Churchill Distaff Turf Mile in her last outing. Inflexibility has been competing against more highly rated foes.
Saturday’s $100,000 Wild Applause for 3-year-old fillies at Belmont Park has a field of six, three of them trained by Chad Brown. Chief among them is Seek and Destroy, a Verrazano filly who has won three straight, including the Grade III Soaring Softly in her last start. German-bred Nova Sol makes her second U.S. start and shows promise while Blowout was second in the Grade III Florida Oaks. Feel Glorious was second in the Soaring Softly and the other two aren’t bad either. Nice field.
Saturday’s $100,000 Grade III Wilshire Stakes for fillies and mares at Santa Anita has a field of 11. Last year’s winner, Storm the Hill, returns to face a well-matched bunch. Ollie’s Candy and Meal Ticket weren’t factors in the Grade I Gamely on May 27 but should have a better chance in this.
It’s tough to look past Runnin’toluvya among the seven entered for Saturday’s $150,000 Grade III Philip H. Iselin Stakes at Monmouth Park. The 5-year-old Fiber Sonde gelding has strung together 10 straight wins and, while it’s true some were against fellow West Virginia-breds, he also jumped up two races back to win the $1 million Grade II Charles Town Classic. Diamond King, second in the Charles Town Classic, is back for another try and seldom misses a top-three finish. Monongahela was second in the Grade III Excelsior at Aqueduct two starts ago.
Owendale and Long Range Toddy stand out among seven entries for Saturday’s $500,000 Grade III Ohio Derby at Thistledown. Owendale, the 9-5 favorite on the morning line, won the Grade III Lexington at Keeneland and finished third in the Preakness. Long Range Toddy defeated Improbable in his division of the Rebel at Oaklawn Park but then was sixth in the Arkansas Derby and 16th in the Run for the Roses. Global Campaign, who exits a win in the Grade III Peter Pan, was entered for this but reportedly will scratch with a foot issue.
On the international front:
We’re handling Royal Ascot separately, as befits a royal occasion. The festivities continue Friday and conclude Saturday.
Sunday’s Grade 1 Takarazuka Kinen is one of two Japanese races for which fans vote what horses they want to see run. This year’s No. 1 fan favorite, Almond Eye, has declined the honor but the next three on the fans’ wish list — Rey de Oro, Kiseki and Al Ain — are expected to compete. All of them are top-level winners, as are Makahiki, Suave Richard and Lys Gracieux.
Lys Gracieux was last seen finishing third in the Group 1 FWD QE II Cup in Hong Kong. Suave Richard’s last effort was a third-place showing in the Group 1 Longines Dubai Sheema Classic on World Cup night, with Rey de Oro sixth.
The Takarazuka Kinen is run at 2,200 meters or about 1 3/8 miles at Hanshin Racecourserace. It also is the last Grade 1 of the season. Top-level action will return in late September with the Sprinters Stakes.