By Noel Michaels
The table is set for a high-quality fall season finale beginning with the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Some top tracks will be serving up extra helpings of great racing, including Aqueduct, Churchill Downs and Del Mar.
These three tracks will keep running through early December, which makes it easier for horseplayers to narrow their focus to these three simulcast signals. Of course, there are other tracks you may have a personal preference for as Tampa Bay Downs at the Fair Grounds are opening their winter meets, and Gulfstream Park begins its championship season on Dec. 4, with the Claiming Crown.
The upcoming headline races include the Cigar Mile (G1) on Dec. 4 at the Big A and the Clark (G1) at Churchill on Nov. 26.
Churchill and Del Mar close for the season on Sunday (Nov. 28). Del Mar hosts the season’s final two Grade 1s — the Hollywood Derby on Saturday (Nov. 27) and the Matriarch on Sunday.
Aqueduct remains open all winter, but the fall meet (along with turf racing in all likelihood) will end on Dec. 5 with NYRA’s final graded stakes of 2021 to be run on Dec. 4.
Here’s a list of late fall’s top stakes races:
Thursday, Nov. 25
Churchill: Falls City Handicap (G2), 1 1/8 miles, 3 and up
Del Mar: Red Carpet Stakes (G3), 1 3/8 miles, turf, 3 and up fillies and mares
Friday, Nov. 26
Aqueduct: Comely Stakes (G3), 1 1/8 miles, 3-year-old fillies
Churchill: Clark (G1), 1 1/8 miles, 3 and up
Del Mar: Hollywood Turf Cup (G2), 1 ½ miles, turf, 3 and up
Saturday, Nov. 27
Churchill: Kentucky Jockey Club (G2), 1 1/16 miles, 2-year-olds
Churchill: Golden Rod (G2), 1 1/16 miles, 2-year-old fillies
Aqueduct: Discovery Stakes, 1 1/8 miles, 3-year-olds
Aqueduct: Aqueduct Turf Sprint Championship, 6 furlongs, turf, 3 and up
Aqueduct: Long Island Stakes (G3), 1 3/8 miles, turf, 3 and up fillies and mares
Del Mar: Hollywood Derby (G1), 1 1/8 miles, turf, 3-year-olds
Del Mar: Seabiscuit Handicap (G2), 1 1/16 miles, turf, 3 and up
Del Mar: Jimmy Durante Stakes (G3), 1 mile, turf, 2-year-olds
Sunday, Nov. 28
Aqueduct: Fall Highweight Handicap (G3), 6 furlongs, 3 and up
Del Mar: Matriarch Stakes (G1), 1 mile, turf, 3 d up fillies and mares
Del Mar: Cecil B. DeMille Stakes (G3), 1 mile, turf, 2-year-olds
Saturday, Dec. 4
Aqueduct: Cigar Mile (G1), 1 mile, 3 and up
Aqueduct: Remsen Stakes (G2), 1 1/8 miles, 2-year-olds
Aqueduct: Demoiselle Stakes (G2), 1 1/8 miles, 2-year-old fillies
Aqueduct: Go For Wand Handicap (G3), 1 mile, 3 and up fillies and mares
The Aqueduct, Del Mar, and Churchill Downs fall meets are in the midst of strong seasons and all offer horseplayers great options over the next few weeks. Whether you’re concentrating on Aqueduct, Churchill, Del Mar, or all three, there should be some intriguing races for your wagering pleasure. Best of luck and have a happy Thanksgiving!
Noel Michaels has been involved in many aspects of thoroughbred racing for more than two decades, as a Breeders’ Cup-winning owner and as a writer, author, handicapper, editor, manager and promoter of the sport for a wide range of companies including Daily Racing Form and Nassau County Off-Track Betting.
He also is regarded as the leading source of news and information for handicapping tournaments and the author of the “Handicapping Contest Handbook: A Horseplayer’s Guide to Handicapping Tournaments”, which made his name virtually synonymous with the increasingly-popular tournament scene.
In addition to contributing to US Racing, he is also an analyst on the Arlington Park broadcast team.