Northern Dancer Turf Draws Top Field

World Approval (photo via

World Approval (photo via

A top-notch group of eight older runners are set to race 12 furlongs in the $300,000 Northern Dancer Turf Stakes (GIT).

Wake Forest, who is one of the two Chad Brown-trained runners, won the Man o’ War Stakes (GIT) in May and was second in the United Nations Handicap (GIT) before a troubled trip in the Arlington Million (GIT) produced a 10th-place finish. A stone-cold closer, he will need plenty of pace to run at to reach the wire in front.

Brown’s other runner, Big Blue Kitten, won last year’s United Nations and Turf Classic Invitational (GIT), and was also second in the Arlington Million behind The Pizza Man. After a third-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Turf and a lengthy winter break, he’s failed to have any impact in his two graded starts this year. He’d need to revert to old form to be a factor.

This year’s United Nations winner, World Approval, appears to be the lone speed in the race and while helpful, he seems suited to shorter distances and may have trouble carrying his speed to make it to the wire in front with a field of talented runners closing from behind. The top team of trainer Mark Casse and jockey Julien Leparoux partner with this runner and, if he takes to the predicted soft turf, he has a strong shot to pick up a larger share of the purse.

Last year’s Hollywood Turf Cup (GIT) winner The Pizza Man hasn’t shown much in four starts since and while some say the now 7-year-old gelding may have lost a step, his best makes him a strong factor for the win. He’s accomplished over soft turf and has been training well at his home base of Arlington, so he deserves an extra long look before heading to the windows.

British-bred Button Down, the lone female in the group, will face males again after finishing second in the Nijinsky Stakes (GIIT) and fourth in the Sky Classic Stakes (GIIT). She’s faced some tough ladies in her career, including Tepin, and while she’s loaded with talent, this distance may be a tad too far for her preference.

Charles Fipke’s Danish Dynaformer has won two of four turf starts over the course and is a stalker, which should help assure a decent pace. He’s one from the powerful Attfield-trained stable of runners and his best gives him a strong chance at a victory.

Camp Creek is the lone sophomore of the bunch and won the Breeders’ Stakes (GIT) in upset fashion in his last. He’s improving, but may be a little short against a bunch like this to pick up the victory. Majeed makes his North American debut for trainer David Simcock. He appears to have a versatile running style, which will help depending on how the pace sets up, and is in good hands with top Euro jockey Jamie Spencer in the irons.

The field for the Northern Dancer, which is the 10th on the day, is expected to leave the gate at 5:34 p.m. ET.

Margaret Ransom
California native and lifelong horsewoman Margaret Ransom is a graduate of the University of Arizona’s Race Track Industry Program. She got her start in racing working in the publicity departments at Calder Race Course and Hialeah Park, as well as in the racing office at Gulfstream Park in South Florida. She then spent six years in Lexington, KY, at, where she helped create and develop the company’s popular newsletters: Handicapper’s Edge and Bloodstock Journal.

After returning to California, she served six years as the Southern California news correspondent for BloodHorse, assisted in the publicity department at Santa Anita Park and was a contributor to many other racing publications, including HorsePlayer Magazine and Trainer Magazine. She then spent seven years at HRTV and in various roles as researcher, programming assistant, producer and social media and marketing manager.

She has also walked hots and groomed runners, worked the elite sales in Kentucky for top-class consignors and volunteers for several racehorse retirement organizations, including CARMA.

In 2016, Margaret was the recipient of the prestigious Stanley Bergstein Writing Award, sponsored by Team Valor, and was an Eclipse Award honorable mention for her story, “The Shocking Untold Story of Maria Borell,” which appeared on The article and subsequent stories helped save 43 abandoned and neglected Thoroughbreds in Kentucky and also helped create a new animal welfare law known as the “Borell Law.”

Margaret’s very first Breeders’ Cup was at Hollywood Park in 1984 and she has attended more than half of the Breeders’ Cups since. She counts Holy Bull and Arrogate as her favorite horses of all time. She lives in Pasadena with her longtime beau, Tony, two Australian Shepherds and one Golden Retriever.

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