Yesterday we had the appetizers of the Top Flight, Citation, and Clark Handicaps to entice our pallet and now today we are on to the bulk of the meal, the mouthwatering main course of our Thanksgiving weekend of racing! On the menu for today are a slew of Juvenile races almost sure to give most of us a slight case of Derby fever. The Remsen is a clash of rising stars as we will watch the gelding Homeboykris and the colt Buddy's Saint duke it out to determine who will be among the first flight of elite three year olds. Over in Kentucky, Churchill Downs is closing out it's fall meet with the Golden Rod, featuring the Pocahontas winner, Sassy Image. Then a little later in the day will come the Kentucky Jockey Club staring Thiskyhasnolimit and some other talents looking to make a name for themselves like Super Saver.
However these young Juveniles will not be the golden turkey of the feast, they are merely the tasty side dishes, the real show will be Gazelle, featuring the return of five time Grade one winner and last year's Juvenile Filly Champion Stardom Bound. Then comes the prestigious Cigar Mile, where we will see a short yet star studded field of sprinters trying to carry their speed the one turn mile. Lastly come the Matriarch, which if won by the favored Ventura, will represent a bitter sweet moment, seeing as how her trainer, the late Bobby Frankle, only just recently passed.
The Matriarch will not be a walk in the park for the classy Ventura, she will have likes of Diamondrella, whose connections thought so much of her that they entered her against the males in the Breeders Cup Turf Sprint. Before throwing in a clunker in her last, Diamondrella had won her first two starts of the year, one being the Grade one Just a Game. Though she did not take to the Tapeta surface a Presque Isle Downs, she quickly rebounded with another Grade one in the First Lady. On her best day she is a very dangerous threat and could pose as a serious challenge for Ventura.
In the Gazelle, Stardom Bound will look to return among the elite fillies in the country. The Gazelle will mark her first try on dirt and her first race in a long seven months away from the track. She will be facing the talented sprinter Flashing, who won the Grade one Test Stakes earlier this year. She will also face Milwaukee Appeal who won this year's addition of the Woodbine Oaks and was runner up when facing males in the Prince of Wales. Bon Jovi Girl who had several run ins this year with the three year old champion female to be Rachel Alexandra could also prove dangerous. Lastly, comes the wild card Unrivaled Belle, who has been breezing, rather easily, through the three year old filly ranks as of late and will be looking to solidify her status with a win.
The main event will be the Cigar Mile, which even with the loss of both three year old talents, Quality Road and Munnings, still has quite a strong list of entries. Headlining the field is Vineyard Haven, who has lost only once in the U.S., and is a monster miler. Pyro, the Forego winner, will be looking to rebound of a bad experience on the synthetics in California, with a win here, in his final start. The other big horse here is Kodiak Kowboy, who's best efforts have come in sprints. However, the aid of only one turn in this mile event may just be enough to allow his speed to carry him past the others and onto victory!
Is anybody hungry yet, ready for some racing action? I sure am, have my picks all ready for the big three races. In the Gazelle I'll take Stardom Bound, Unrivaled Belle, and Milwaukee Appeal. Sentimentally I cannot leave out Ventura, she is too good, then comes Diamondrella and Tuscan Evening. The Cigar Mile many have been the shortest field, but it still represents a challenge. My first pick is the class of the field Vineyard Haven, but I could not leave off Pyro, a favorite of mine since last year. My last pick will be Bribon, who is making his return to the dirt. Hopefully everyone enjoys this bountiful feast of racing, just don't get too full, tomorrow we'll have some pumpkin pie with the Hollywood Derby for dessert.