Note: All times are EDT
By Richard Rosenblatt
From Florence, Kentucky to Hallandale Beach, Florida to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, a blockbuster day of racing is on tap Saturday, allowing fans and handicappers to tune in and show off their wagering acumen.
The $12 million Dubai World Cup (G1) is the richest race of the day, featuring an international 14-horse field with four U.S.-based entries, likely favorite Mystic Guide, Jesus’ Team, Sleepy Eyes Todd and Title Ready.
Earlier on Dubai World Cup Day at Meydan Racecourse, the first of three Kentucky Derby prep races will take place – the $750,000 UAE Derby (G2). The race will also be televised by FS1, as will several other stakes from Dubai, including the $5 million Dubai Sheema (G1) featuring $20 million Saudi Cup winner Mishriff.
Back in the USA
Then it’s back to the U.S., for hours upon hours of racing coverage, including the $750,000 Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park in Florida and the $250,000 Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) at Turfway Park in Kentucky.
Saturday is the biggest day yet on the road the Derby on the first Saturday in May, with a total of 37 3-year-olds entered in the three preps – all of which offer Derby qualifying points of 100-40-20-10 to the first four finishers.
When the day is over, it’s possible that six or more horses could earn enough points to reserve a spot in a 20-horse field for the Derby.
Entering Saturday’s races, just three of the 37 are among the Top 20 on the Derby leaderboard – Greatest Honour [60 points, No. 3], Spielberg [17 points, No. 16], and Papetu [11 points, No. 19], all running in the Florida Derby [post time: 6:40 p.m., NBCSN, FS2].
There’s also a Derby points qualifier in Japan on Saturday (2:10 a.m.), the
Fukuryu Stakes at Nakayama Racecourse.
Where and when to watch
Breakfast at the races begins Saturday at 8 a.m. on FS1 with live coverage of the Dubai World Cup undercard races and capped off with the Dubai World Cup from 12-1 p.m. Post time for the Dubai World Cup is 12:50 p.m. The race features an international field of 14, including four from the U.S. – Mystic Guide, Jesus’ Team, Sleepy Eyes Todd, and Title Ready.
Other stakes that will be televised include the Dubai Sheema Classic (G1), and the UAE Derby (G2).
NBCSN will air live coverage of the Florida Derby from 6-7 p.m.
America’s Day at the Races, produced by the New York Racing Association in partnership with Fox Sports, will air live coverage Saturday from Aqueduct, Oaklawn Park, Turfway Park, and Gulfstream Park.
The TV coverage is scheduled as follows: FS2 will televise races from 2:30-3 p.m. before the broadcast shifts to FS1 from 3-4:30 p.m., then back to FS2 from 4:30-7 p.m.
With that, the Florida Derby will air on FS2, preceded by the Jeff Ruby Steaks, which has a 6:25 p.m. post time.
Turfway Park: National Weather Service calls for sunny skies with a high of 71 degrees.
Gulfstream Park: Sunny with temperatures in the mid- to high 70s.
Meydan Racecourse: Afternoon and evening temperatures range from the low 90s and falling into the mid- to high 80s around Dubai World Cup time [12:50 p.m., but 8:50 p.m. local time].
Here’s a brief rundown of the top races, with post times listed by Eastern Daylight Time (EDT).
$250,000 Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3)
Post time: 6:25 p.m. (Race 11)
Hush of Storm, winner of the John Battaglia Memorial winner, and Grade 1 winner Gretzky the Great top the 12-horse field for the 1 1/8-mile race on the synthetic Tapeta surface. Also worth considering is Holy Bull (G3) runner-up Tarantino.
$750,000 Florida Derby (G1)
Post time: 6:40 p.m. (Race 14)
Greatest Honour, winner of the Holy Bull and Fountain of Youth (G2) goes for the Gulfstream sweep of Derby preps as the 6-5 favorite in a field of 11. He’s a closer, so the finish could be exciting, especially with Hall of Famer trainer Bob Baffert sending out his first Florida Derby starter, Spielberg. A field of 11 is set for the 1 1/8-mile key Kentucky Derby prep. Known Agenda Collaborate, and Soup and Sandwich are also in the field.
$200,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2)
Post time: 5:17 p.m. (Race 12)
Trainer Ken McPeek looks to win this one for the second year in a row. He sent out Swiss Skydiver to win this in 2020, and she went on to beat the boys in the Preakness (G1) and be voted 3-year-old filly champion. On Saturday, he sends out Crazy Beautiful in this Kentucky Oaks (G1) qualifier which offers points of 100-40-20-10 to the first four finishers.
$12 million Dubai World Cup (G1)
Post time: 12:15 p.m. (Race 9)
An international field of 14 is set for this 2,000-meter [about 1 1/4 miles] 25th edition of the World Cup. Mystic Guide, winner of the Razorback Handicap (G3) to kick off his 4-year-old campaign, is among the favorites, along with Jesus’ Team, Military Law, and Magny Cours. The winner earns $6.9 million.
$5 million Dubai Sheema Classic (G2)
Post time: 12 p.m. (Race 8)
Saudi Cup winner Mishriff returns to more familiar turf in this 12-furlong test a month after winning the $20 million Saudi Cup on dirt. A field of nine is entered, including the Bill Mott-trained Channel Maker, the 2020 Eclipse Award winner as champion turf male.
$750,000 UAE Derby (G2)
Post time: 10:05 a.m. (Race 5)
Not a field of well-known 3-year-olds, but 14 are entered including several Triple Crown nominees, including Rebel Romance, France Go De Ina, and Speight’spercomete. U.S.-based horses in the field include Ambivalent and Lugamo. Two fillies are entered: Soft Whisper and Mnasek.
Post time: 2:10 a.m.
The final points-earning prep on the Japan road to the Derby but most of the top dirt horses will be racing in Dubai. This will be a full field of 14, with Ladybug, a filly, among the contenders. The winner earns 40 Derby qualifying points and would be the top point-earner from Japan, which gets one entry into the Derby field of 20.
Other stakes of note:
Gulfstream Park: $200,000 Pan American (G2): Sadler’s Joy looks to snap a nine-racing losing streak in a race that brought him his first graded stakes win four years ago. The 8-year-old gelding has earned $2.6 million from 35 starts [7-4-11]. The race is 1 ½ miles on turf with a field of eight. (Race 10, post time 4:09 p.m.)
Santa Anita: $100,000 Santa Ana (G3): Mucho Unusual is the 8-5 favorite in a field of eight fillies and mares 4 and older going 1 ¼ miles on turf (Race 9, post time 8:25 p.m.)
Over the years while working at The Associated Press, Rich Rosenblatt became a familiar name to legions of the horse racing fans and industry insiders with his award-winning articles on horse racing and his stories from the backstretch.
In addition to being an astute observer of sports, Rosenblatt is the co-author of The All-American Chili Cookbook. His work has been seen in just about every publication in the world, including The New York Times, The Washington Post and Time Magazine.