This weekend’s horse racing action is highlighted by the long-awaited return of live racing to Woodbine on Saturday, June 12, thanks to the provincial loosening of COVID-19 restrictions, while graded stakes action is relatively light across the U.S. Of course, next week’s Royal Ascot meeting will begin on Tuesday, June 15, featuring 11 American contenders in the top-notch turf action.
Leading a quiet weekend of stakes racing is Juddmonte’s Mandaloun, who is slated to make his first start since finishing second in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby on Sunday at Monmouth Park in the Pegasus Stakes.
Saturday, June 12
4:28 p.m. – $150,000 Grade 3 Salvator Mile at Monmouth Park on TVG
Last July, John Fanelli, Cash is King, LC Racing, Paul Braverman and Team Hanley’s Ny Traffic gave future Horse of the Year Authentic all he could handle in the Grade 1 TVG.com Haskell Stakes, losing by a nose. Ny Traffic returns to Monmouth Park on Saturday facing nine rivals in the Grade 3 $150,000 Salvator Mile on the main track. A 4-year-old gray/roan son of Cross Traffic, trained by Saffie Joseph Jr., and ridden from post seven by Paco Lopez, Ny Traffic made an impressive 2021 debut at Belmont Park on May 2 with a 6 ¾-length victory in a 7-furlong optional allowance claiming race. Breaking from post 10 under Robby Albarado is the defending Salvator Mile champion Pirate’s Punch. Owned by Gulliver Racing, Craig Drager and Dan Legan, and trained by Grant Forster, Pirate’s Punch came from off the pace to win last year’s race, held Sept. 20, by 2 lengths. A 5-year-old gelded son of Eclipse Award-winner Shanghai Bobby, Pirate’s Punch will be making his first start since trailing the field in the Grade 1 Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Keeneland in November.
10:11 p.m. ― $150,000 Grade 3 Old Forester Mint Julep Stakes at Churchill Downs
Led by 6-5 morning line favorite Juliet Foxtrot (GB), 11 fillies and mares have been entered for Saturday evening’s featured Grade 3 Old Forester Mint Julep Stakes at Churchill Downs going 1 1/16 miles on turf. Owned by Juddmonte and trained by Brad Cox, Juliet Foxtrot has six wins, including an impressive wire-to-wire 2-length victory in her 2021 debut on April 10 in the Grade 1, 1 1/16-mile Jenny Wiley Stakes at Keeneland over a yielding course. A 6-year-old bay daughter of Dansili (GB), who will be ridden from post two by Tyler Gaffalione, Juliet Foxtrot won last October’s Grade 3 Gallorette at Pimlico. WinStar Stablemates Racing’s Crystal Ball has won optional allowance claiming races at Santa Anita and at Churchill Downs this year. Trained by Rodolphe Brisset, the 4-year-old daughter of Malibu Moon finished second in last year’s Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga. James Graham rides from post nine. Stonestreet Stables’ Hendy Woods, trained by Mark Casse, tuned up for this race by taking a 1-mile optional claimer at Churchill on May 14. Ridden by Florent Geroux from post three, the 4-year-old filly finished second in last September’s Grade 2 Edgewood Stakes at Churchill.
Sunday, June 13
4:50 p.m. ― $150,00 TVG.com Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth Park on TVG
Juddmonte’s Mandaloun headlines Sunday’s TVG.com Pegasus Stakes for 3-year-olds going 1 1/16 miles at Monmouth Park. Facing four rivals, the Brad Cox-trained son of Into Mischief fought all the way in the Kentucky Derby on May 1, finishing second to Medina Spirit by a half-length at 26-1. Winner of the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds in February, Mandaloun will be ridden by Florent Geroux from post 2. Chiefswood Stables’ Canadian-bred Weyburn, trained by Jimmy Jerkens, won the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct in March, and returns to the races following a fourth-place finish in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 3. Dylan Davis has the mount, breaking from post four. Also coming out of the Kentucky Derby is Mark Schwartz’s Brooklyn Strong. Trained by Daniel Velazquez and ridden from post two by Abner Adorno, Brooklyn Strong, who won last year’s Grade 3 Remsen at Aqueduct, finished 15th in the Derby.
8:30 p.m. ― $100,000 Grade 3 Affirmed Stakes at Santa Anita Park on TVG
California-bred gelding The Chosen Vron, winner of his last two races, leads five starters in the Grade 3 Affirmed Stakes for 3-year-olds going 1 1/16 miles at Santa Anita. Owned by Eric Kruljac, Robert Fetkin, John Sondereker and Richard Thornburgh, and trained by Krurjac, The Chosen Vron won Santa Anita’s Echo Eddie against state breds on April 3, and followed that score with a 3 ½-length win as the odds-on favorite in the 6 ½-furlong Grade 3 Lazaro Barrera by 3 ½ lengths at Santa Anita on May 15. Umberto Rispoli will ride, breaking from post 3. Trainer Bob Baffert has entered two runners: Karl Watson, Paul Weitman and Mike Pegram’s Defunded, fourth in the Grade 2 Pat Day Mile at Churchill on May 1, and SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Golconda Stables, Siena Farm and Robert Masterson’s Classier, who will be making his 2021 debut since finishing eighth in last year’s Grade 1 TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance. Abel Cedillo rides Defunded from post four, and Flavien Prat has the mount on Classier breaking from post one.
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