Brown, Pletcher square off
Trainers Chad Brown and Todd Pletcher will each send out a pair of juveniles in the Grade 3, $200,000 Pilgrim Stakes, a stepping-stone to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.
Brown sends out Eidmilaad, a debut winner at Saratoga, and Ray’s the Bar, a debut winner at Ascot who will be making his first start in the U.S.
Pletcher sends out Azar, the upset winner of the With Anticipation Stakes at Saratoga, and Dissident, who was third to Eidmilaad in an Aug. 30 maiden race.
Also entered in the Pilgrim are Brass Compass, Forever in Love, Highland Sky, Isotherm, Next Shares, and Pagan.
Santa Anita: Five Grade 1 races
ARCADIA, Calif. – Beholder, the two-time champion who beat males in the $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar on Aug. 22, is the most prominent runner in the five Grade 1 stakes at Santa Anita on Saturday.
All five races are preps for the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland on Oct. 30 -31, offering feespaid berths to those races.
Beholder will be a heavy favorite in the $300,000 Zenyatta Stakes for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles, a race she won in 2014. The winner of the Zenyatta is guaranteed a spot in the BC Distaff on Oct. 30, provided the filly or mare is nominated to the Breeders’ Cup. Beholder has been mentioned as a more likely runner in the BC Classic against males on Oct. 31.
Beholder’s main rival on Saturday is Warren’s Veneda, who won the Grade 1 Santa Margarita Stakes here in March.
The $300,000 Awesome Again Stakes at 1 1/8 miles is a prep for the BC Classic. Hard Aces has already earned an automatic berth for the BC Classic by winning the Gold Cup at Santa Anita in June. He will face a field that includes Bayern, who won the BC Classic at Santa Anita in 2014 but is winless this year.
The $300,000 Rodeo Drive Stakes for fillies and mares at 1 1/4 miles on turf leads to the BC Filly and Mare Turf. Hard Not to Like, a Grade 1 winner on both coasts this year, will be favored in a large field that includes Sharla Rae, who won the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks last month.
In 2014, American Pharoah won the Frontrunner Stakes in his final start of the year. This year’s Frontrunner Stakes field is led by Nyquist, the winner of the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity on Sept. 7. The winner of the $300,000 Frontrunner at 1 1/16 miles receives a fees-paid berth for the BC Juvenile.
Another Del Mar stakes winner – Songbird – is a standout in the $300,000 Chandelier Stakes for 2-year-old fillies. Songbird won the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante on Sept. 5 in her stakes debut. The Grade 1 Chandelier is a prep for the BC Juvenile Fillies on Oct. 31.