Happy Belmont Day! Welcome to the best race card of the year this side of The Breeders’ Cup. It features eight grade 1s punctuated by the Manhattan, the Met Mile, and the Belmont Stakes. The wide open Belmont Stakes features the return of Derby winner Rich Strike, and the Met Mile has a great showdown between Flightline and Speaker’s Corner. I’ll tackle the Met Mile and the Belmont Stakes.
Race 13 – The Preakness – Grade I – One Mile and Three Sixteenths on the Dirt for Three Year Olds
We have nine entered here with three coming out of the Kentucky Derby, led by Epicenter who was a very good second two weeks ago.
D. Wayne Lukas goes for his record tying seventh Preakness Stakes with the filly Secret Oath. She would be the seventh filly to win the Preakness Stakes. While two fillies have won this race recently (Swiss Skydiver in 2020 and Rachel Alexandra in 2009) – Rachel’s win was the first filly win in the Preakness since Nellie Morse in 1924. By chance, 1924 was the last year that this race was run at a mile and an eighth.
The 2022 Derby prep trail began last September in the Iroquois Stakes when the first Derby points were awarded. But now all the preps are done, all the points have been counted, and today the road to the 2022 Kentucky Derby ends.
The racing season is beginning to bloom in the New York Spring sunshine. Turf racing has returned to the Big A and today marks the first Grade I (The Carter) of 2022 in New York on a card that is headlined by the Wood Memorial. I’ll tackle two of the primary Derby preps being contested today – the Wood at the Big A and the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland. Both offer 100-40-20-10 Derby points to get into the starting gate of what appears to be a wide open Kentucky Derby.
This is the primary Derby Prep at Tampa Bay, and it attracts a competitive field including the top two finishers from the Sam F. Davis Stakes. It looks like it will be an off track which is something most of these runners haven’t faced before.
The serious part Kentucky Derby prep season is now underway. The top four finishers in both the Withers and the Holy Bull will receive Kentucky Derby points (10-4-2-1), and they will set themselves up for entry into the next round of preps where the Derby points significantly increase (50-20-10-5).
“If you build it – they will come” calmly announced the ethereal, disembodied voice in Field of Dreams. However, that disembodied voice hadn’t contemplated Knicks Go and Life Is Good significantly thinning out the competition in a $3 million race.
This Aqueduct card could easily be held on a Saturday in Saratoga with four Graded Stakes headlined by the final Grade I of the year in New York – the Cigar Mile. In addition, there are four turf races carded – on December 4th! I’ll tackle the Cigar Mile along with the Grade II Remsen for two year colts. The other two stakes at the Big A today are the Grade II Demoiselle for two year old fillies and the Grade III Go For Wand for fillies and mares ages three and up.