Bring your Kool-Aid, bring your Gatorade, Propelle, Powerade, what ever drink floats your boat because this summer is going to get hot. It has been a long time that racing has seen the likes of the best horses in the sport face off against one another before the Breeders Cup. The key word here is before. This year horse racing fans are in for a little change and the fun all starts this weekend.
Things will start to heat up today Diana Handicapp and Jim Dandy Stakes. The Diana feature a strong cast led by Forever Together and Proviso. The former is a Breeders Cup champion, and though she has yet to approach the for she showed that year her closing kick always makes her a danger in the final yards before the wire. Proviso is the upstart in this spot. The filly is two for three this year, including a win over males two starts back.
If the Diana was enough to produce some sparks up, the Jim Dandy will set the sky ablaze. Four horses all with the potential to make the Jim Dandy their coming out party will line the gate. Afleet Express, son of duel Classic winner Afleet Alex, has shown promise right from the beginning and solidified his status as an up and comer with an easy score in the Pegasus Stakes. A Little Warm may not strike fear in the hearts of his competition, but the colt is sneaky good. Fly Down come into this race of a runner up effort in the Test of the Champions, the Belmont Stakes. Before that he scored in the Dwyer, running a solid field right off their feet. Last but not least is Winslow Homer. The handsome grey backed up his juvenile hype with an impressive win in the Holly Bull Stakes. He was sidelined after that, but came back with a third place finish to Concord Point in the Iowa Derby.
As if these two races weren't good enough, the weekend of match ups continues into Sunday, with the Haskell Invitational. Monmouth's premiere race drew a star studded field that includes the two actively racing Classic winner and their runner ups. The race could be looked upon as a rubber match between Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver and Preakness winner Lookin at Lucky. However that billing would be somewhat inaccurate with the promising Trappe Shot, Derby runner up Ice Box, and Preakness place finisher First Dude also vying for top spot.
Some other races to watch this weekend are the Ruffian and Amsterdam. Do the names Unrivalled Belle and Discreetly Mine ring any bells? The former out duel her highness, Rachel Alexandra, earlier in the year and will be looking for her first Grade one win. Discreetly Mine, who ran an uninspiring race in the Kentucky Derby this year, has found a calling as a sprinter. In the Amsterdam the budding star will try to make it two in a row.
This may be all for this weekend, things will only get hotter as the year progresses. Look for a match up between Life At Ten and Rachel Alexandra in the Personal Ensign, Blame and Quality Road in the Whitney, Those two plus California's leading older male, Rail Trip, in the Woodward. Yes, we may have been deprived of our Rachel Alexandra vs Zenyatta, but all of this is almost enough to make up for it.