US Graded Stakes Racing Preview


Not too much in the way of graded stakes racing this weekend but one race stands out, the Charles Town Classic, a Grade 2 event over a mile and an eigth, worth an eye-watering $1.25m.

A maximum field of 10 runners will face the starter in this valuable event, which looks very open with the Morning Line going 3/1 the field. Donworth is the favorite but he will have to put a nightmare run in The Big Cap behind him.

He is a big stamp of a horse and can get into trouble at the bends and Charles Town is a tight track. As a result, connections have said he will look to make the pace so he can settle and get into a good rhythm. The race doesn’t look over-blessed with pace so Donworth could well get the race run to suit.

Of Todd Pletcher’s eight entries, he is siding with Stanford. The horse ran a cracker last time, finishing a close second in the Gulfstream Park handicap, earning a Beyer of 102. He should like the tight 6 furlong track and should be able to slot in behind Donworth.

S’marvelous is an interesting runner. He has improved leaps and bounds since joining the Maker yard and upset the odds when winning the New Orleans Handicap (beating International Star), earning a Beyer of 100. If there is more improvement to come he looks a value price.

Next we pay a rare visit to Los Alamitos, which hosts the Great Lady M stakes, a 6 ½ furlong Grade 2 race for fillies and mares worth $200k.

Fantastic Style will go off a short priced favourite and it is not difficult to see why. She won this race last year and comes into the race in top form, aiming for her fourth win on the bounce. Trainer Bob Baffert is looking for a win and a good summer, culminating with a shot at the Breeders Cup Sprint. She consistently performs to a mid 90s Beyer, which is a lot better than her rivals.

For the final race under our microscope this weekend, we head to Keeneland and the Grade 2 Dixiana Elkhorn Stakes over a stamina sapping 1 ½ mile turf trip.

Our old friend, Kaigun, heads the Morning Line market at 5/2. Since being upped to 1 ½ miles he has been ultra-consistent with four seconds and a win last time out in Gulfstream Park’s Grade 2 Pan American Stakes, earning a Beyer of 101. There is not much more to say about Kaigun. He will give his all and will most likely run well and achieve a podium finish but may be inconvenienced by a lack of early pace so I wouldn’t go lower than the 5/2 ML price.

Other horses to note are Twilight Eclipse, who needs to show some of his undoubted class, Da Big Hoss and St Albans Boy, who had a bad trip last time out. At bigger prices, multiple Grade 1 winner in South America, Idolo Porteno, will enjoy the return to turf and A Red Tie Day, who may just get a soft lead and there is no better jockey than Gary Stevens at dictating the pace. He looks a very big price at the ML’s 20/1.


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