OTB Race Previews
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Belmont Park's Fall Championship Meet will feature seven Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" qualifiers held over two outstanding weekends of thoroughbred racing. In all, 44 stakes worth more than $10 million and fan-friendly activities are among the highlights as live racing returns to downstate New York for Belmont's 36-day meet, which runs from Friday, September 7 through Sunday, October 28.
On Opening Day, Laurie Plesa's Miz Mayhem will try for her sixth straight win in a field of 10 for Friday's $100,000 Christiecat for sophomore fillies at six furlongs, the first of three stakes on tap opening weekend.
Miz Mayhem, a Florida-bred by Yesbyjimminy, has been dominant in turf sprints since February, including a win against older fillies and mares in the Nicole's Dream at Gulfstream in June and a 1 ¼-length score facing 3-year-olds last time out in the Stormy Blues on July 7 at Laurel Park.
Miz Mayhem will make her first start for Jason Servis after moving from Edward Plesa, Jr.'s barn this summer. She will break from post 2 with regular rider Edgard Zayas aboard.
Last year's Christiecat-winning trainer Chad Brown will try for a duplicate effort on Friday when he saddles Lady Suebee, who will be ridden by Manny Franco from post 8. Lady Suebee, by First Defence, was third in the July 30 Coronation Cup last time out for Brown, who is fresh off winning his second training title at Saratoga with a record-setting 46 wins.
Rounding out the field are Coronation Cup winner Broadway Run, Mominou, Closer Still, Factorofwon, Kitten's Covergirl, Tesora, Streetlady, and Souper Striking. Lezendary is entered for the main track only.
The stakes action will continue with the Christiecat's counterpart for males, $100,000 Allied Forces on Saturday, and the $100,000 Royal Delta for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on Sunday. First race post for opening weekend is at 1:30 p.m. ET.
"Super Saturday," September 29, will feature a trio of "Win and You're In" races for the Breeders' Cup World Championships to be held at Churchill Downs on November 2-3: the Grade 1, $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup for the Breeders' Cup Classic; the Grade 1, $500,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic in the Turf division; and the Grade 1, $350,000 Vosburgh in the Sprint division. Also on the card is the Grade 3, $200,000 Pilgrim for 2-year-olds on the turf.
The stakes action will continue on Sunday with the Grade 2, $200,000 Miss Grillo for 2-year-old fillies on the grass and the $200,000 Temperence Hill Invitational for older horses at 1 5/8 miles.
The lead up to the Breeders' Cup will pick up again on the following Saturday with the Grade 1, $500,000 Champagne, a qualifier for the Juvenile on "Future Stars Friday" of Breeders' Cup weekend. The program will also include the Grade 1, $400,000 Beldame for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles on the main track, the Grade 2, $500,000 Hill Prince for 3-year-olds on the turf, and the $150,000 Belmont Turf Sprint Invitational for 3-year-olds and up.
Jockey Club Gold Cup Day will feature a special edition of Belmont Park Live, airing on MSG+ from 4-6 p.m., while NBC will have live coverage of Champagne Day beginning at 4:30 p.m. First post time is 12:30 p.m. ET on both September 29 and October 6.
Three more Breeders' Cup qualifiers will round out the weekend on Sunday, October 7. The Grade 1, $500,000 Flower Bowl and the Grade 1, $400,000 Frizette, awarding the winners an all-fees-paid berth into the Filly & Mare Turf and Juvenile Fillies divisions, respectively, while the $150,000 Futurity for juvenile sprinters, moved to the grass for the first time, will carry a berth into the inaugural running of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint. Sunday's first post is at 1:30.
The Grade 2, $200,000 Knickerbocker for 3-year-olds and up on the turf and the Grade 3, $150,000 Matron will highlight Belmont's Columbus Day holiday program on Monday, October 8.
The Empire State will take the spotlight on Saturday, October 20, when the top New York-breds gather at Belmont Park to complete in eight stakes races worth $1.75 million, highlighted by the $300,000 Empire Classic at 1 1/8 miles. First post is 12:30.
Live racing will be conducted Friday, Saturday and Sunday through September 16. Racing will move to a five-day week beginning September 19, Wednesdays through Sundays. General parking is free, and admission to Belmont Park is $5. For more information, please visit NYRA.com.
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