The Grade 2 $1.25 million Pennsylvania Derby features the two biggest names from the Triple Crown trail September 24 at Parx as a field of 12 gathers in one of the most intriguing betting races of the year.
Grade 3 $150,000 Matchmaker Stakes a Wide-Open Betting Event
The $150,000 Grade 3 Suwannee River starts an all-stakes late pick four February 6 at Gulfstream Park as a field of 13 is set to contest the mile and an eighth turf event.
Todd Pletcher will saddle the lukewarm favorite in Sandiva (7/2), who narrowly won the Tropical Park Oaks in her three year-old finale. The daughter of Footstepsinthesand has recorded 5 wins in 13 career starts for earnings of $268,137, but has never travelled further than a mile and a sixteenth. The Suwannee also represents a significant class hike for Sandiva who was well-beaten in both graded stakes tries in the United States. Jockey Javier Castellano, who was aboard for the Tropical Park Oaks win, will likely place the filly close to the early pace.
Cay Dancer should be tougher this time around
Cay Dancer (9/2) draws an outside post for her second try on U.S. soil after failing to make an impact in a Grade 3 race December 27 at Gulfstream, but the mile and a half distance that day may not have been to her liking. In addition, the Chad Brown trainee was making her first start since August 15, and has worked extremely well leading up to the Suwannee.
Zito layoff horse represents value
Starstruck (12/1) has not raced since September 27, but would be a major player if she is able to repeat her form from last summer. Trained by Nick Zito, Starstruck won the Grade 3 Matchmaker Stakes in July at Monmouth Park at the mile and one eighth distance.
The $1 million Cotillion Stakes September 24 at Parx features a true clash of the titans as the six-horse field is headlined by the undefeated, five-time grade 1 winner Songbird who figures to face the most stern challenge of her career.
In a completely wide open renewal of the Presque Isle Mile September 18 at Presque Isle Downs, 13 runners including the also-eligible will contest the eight furlong trip over synthetic footing.
Champion Songbird is set to make her much-anticipated return to the races in the $200,000 Summertime Oaks at Santa Anita on Saturday. The Grade 2 event will be run at a mile and a sixteenth and has attracted a field of seven.