US Graded Stakes Racing Preview


As you can imagine it is a relatively quiet week on the US racing front as we get over the Kentucky Derby and gird our loins for next week’s Preakness. Pride of place for this week’s racing goes unequivocally to Belmont Park, which stages a high quality card with four graded stakes, culminating in the grade 1 Man O’ War Stakes over 1 3/8 miles on the inner turf course.

Let’s look at the graded stakes in turn:

Race: R7 Ruffian Stakes

Grade: Grade 2

Age: 4 year old and up fillies and mares

Distance: 1 mile

Purse: $250,000

Just six runners face the starter for this valuable mile race for older fillies and mares and this disappointing turnout is effectively reduced to five given that it would be massive shock were Welcome Aboard to play a major part.

The Morning Line effectively makes Cavorting and Carrumba joint favorites at 6/4 and both bring solid form to the table. Carrumba has been exceptionally consistent throughout her 7 race career, having never been out of the first two. But for a head defeat by Forever Unbridled, she would be looking to make it six straight wins today.

Cavorting is a grade 1 winner, for which she carries a 2lb penalty. However, she does look to be a 7 furlong specialist and every time she has stepped up to a mile, things have not gone well. There is rain forecast and sloppy going would make her task even more problematical so keep an eye on the going. Such conditions would not appear to provide any problems for Carrumba, who stays further than a mile.

Include Betty is an interesting runner. She is a grade 1 winner, having won the Mother Goose at Belmont in 2015 and is unbeaten at a mile.

Race: R8 Beaugay Stakes

Grade: Grade 3

Age: 4 year old and up fillies and mares

Distance: 1 1/16 miles (Turf)

Purse: $150,000

The Beaugay Stakes looks more competitive than the Ruffian with it being possible to make a case for five or six of the eight runners. Recepta looks to have a fine chance in this race, in which she finished third last year. She is improving and will definitely come on for her last run when she finished to the mighty Tepin.

Shug McGaughey, trainer of Carrumba in the Ruffian, has a live outsider in Tapitry. She has yet to win a stakes race but is on the improve and is bidding for a straight hat-trick of wins. He is making all the right noises about Tapitry and, if she can get loose on the lead, she has a fine chance of a podium finish.

Race: R9 Peter Pan Stakes

Grade: Grade 2

Age: 3 year old

Distance: 1 1/8 miles

Purse: $200,000

All eyes will be on Unified as he bids to make it 3 wins from 3 starts. He posted an amazing Beyer when winning his maiden and improved on that when winning the grade 3 Bay Shore, earning a Beyer of 102. The well-beaten second that day went on to win the Gold Fever next time out so the form looks solid. The Bay Shore was over 7 furlongs and he steps up another 2 furlongs today but there seems little chance that he won’t adopt those tactics today.

If this stiff 1 1/8 mile trip does expose any holes in Unified’s stamina then Todd Pletcher’s Decorated Soldier may be placed to take advantage. He showed plenty of grit and resolve when winning the Northern Spur last month.

Race: R10 Man O’ War Stakes

Grade: Grade 1

Age: 4 year old and up

Distance: 1 3/8 miles (Turf)

Purse: $400,000

It’s a long distance graded stakes race on the turf so you can guarantee that our old friend Kaigun will be in the line up. Again with Kaigun you can be sure he will run his heart out and will probably be in the first three, a must for your trifecta perms. However, his trips to the winner’s enclosure are rare, so his Morning Line price of 5/2 does not stir my blood.

Wake Forest was beaten by Kaigun last time out in a close finish. He will be fitter for that run and may appreciate the slightly shorter trip but, at the ML price of 2/1, he doesn’t look value.

Going Around looks very interesting. He may not have the graded stakes pedigree of Kaigun and Wake Forest but he may be allowed an easy lead and could be difficult to peg back if Alvarado can get the fractions right.


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