American Turf Magazine
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Jul 22, 2011

American Turf Club Lead

By: Joe Girardi

            The real start to summer for a true racing fan begins next week when Del Mar and Saratoga open their doors. Del Mar Starts on July 20th and runs through September 7th while Saratoga opens on July 22nd and runs through Labor Day, September 5th.

            At Del Mar, the track “Where the Turf Meets the Surf” located in beautiful Del Mar California the racing gets underway on Wednesday July 20th with the traditional Oceanside Stakes a race for three year olds run over the turf at one mile and carries a purse of $100,000. The first Grade I event of the meeting comes on Saturday July 23rd in the Eddie Read Stakes, for three year olds and upward run over 1 and 1/8th miles with a purse of $300,000.

            The next two weeks we see two more Grade I stakes races, the Bing Crosby Stakes for sprinters and the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes for fillies and mares. The Del Mar Oaks for filly three year olds run over the turf on August 20th is the next Grade I event and it carries a purse of $250,000.

            The following week is the highlight of the Del Mar meeting when they host two Grade I events, topped by the Grade I Pacific Classic. The race is for three year olds and up run over 1 and ¼ miles with a purse of $1 million dollars. The Pat O’Brien stakes which is run on the undercard is also a Grade I run over seven furlongs with a purse of $250,000.

            The Del Mar Debutante and the Del Mar Futurity run on September 3rd and 7th respectively are the final two Grade I’s of the meeting.

            The trainer and jockey races should be as interesting as the horse races. Joel Rosario and Rafael Bejarano went down to the wire last year with Rosario coming out on top 57-56. The trainer standings should also make for a solid race, last year Doug O’Neill came out on top but this year many trainers are hot leading into the Del Mar meeting and look for that race to be just as competitive. For more info get a copy of the August 2011 issue of American Turf Monthly for more analysis of the Del Mar meeting.

            Saratoga gets underway on Friday July 22nd with the Schuylerville stakes for two year old fillies over six furlongs carrying a purse of $100,000. The very next day they will host their first Grade I in the Coaching Club American Oaks for three year old fillies. This race could serve as a prep for the Grade I Alabama run on August 20th carrying a purse of $500,000.

            The highlight of the Saratoga meeting comes the following week on August 27th when they host the “Mid-summer Derby” the Travers Stakes for three year olds run over 1 and ¼ miles carrying a $1 million purse. This race should be wide open based on how the three year old division is currently. Look for some new shooters and a very competitive race come August 27th. In addition to the Travers, there will be four more stakes races with two more Grade I’s in the Foxwoods King Bishop Stakes and the Ballerina Stakes. The Grade II Ballston Spa run over the turf is also run that day as well as the Grade III Victory Ride stakes for three year old fillies.

            In addition to the top quality horse racing we should see a real scramble for the jockeys and trainer titles. Last year John Velazquez won the jockey title with a 57-54 margin over Javier Castellano with Ramon Dominguez finishing third with 46. Dominguez is riding as well as Castellano as they fight it out for the Belmont jockey title. Velazquez, coming off his first Derby win is always dangerous as he is the first call rider for trainer Todd Pletcher. Speaking of Pletcher who got back to the top last year with 36 wins to Linda Rice’s 20 he is loaded again. Chad Brown had a great meeting last year but finished third with 17 wins but did carry a 30.36 winning percentage. It should be another great meeting on all levels again this year.

            For more coverage on how to win at Saratoga buy the August issue of American Turf Magazine. You can purchase the magazine online as well at

            If you get a chance get up to Saratoga, it is the best place on earth, take the family and experience the track and the town and get a few winners at the racetrack.


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