The Lineup: Triple Crown Pause But Stakes Races Aplenty from California to New York

By Richard Rosenblatt

Finally, a chance to exhale from the Triple Crown drama we’ve seen these past three weeks and delve into some cool, calm, and collected wagering at tracks across the country this weekend.

NYRA-produced America’s Day at the Races on Fox Sports will feature the cards from Belmont Park and Churchill Downs, with FS2 televising live race from 1-3 p.m. ET and again from 4-11:30 p.m. Racing from other tracks are also included.

Rombauer #6 with Flavien Prat won the $1,000,000 Grade I Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Racecourse on Saturday May 15, 2021. Photo Courtesy of Bill Denver/MJC

Among the top races on Saturday are the $150,000 Winning Colors (G3) at Churchill Downs, the $150,000 Seek Again, and a pair of races at Santa Anita – the $100,000 Honeymoon Stakes (G3) and the $200,000 Santa Maria Stakes (G2).

Let’s recap first: Medina Spirit won the Kentucky Derby (G1) on May 1, giving Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert a record-winning seventh win in the Run for the Roses.

A week later, it was disclosed that the horse failed a post-race test for the steroid betamethasone. If a second sample turns up positive, Medina Spirit would be disqualified and runner-up Mandaloun would be the Derby winner.

In the Preakness (G1), Medina Spirit and stablemate Concert Tour were permitted to run after Baffert agreed to multiple days of tests before the race. Medina Spirit was the favorite but finished third behind longshot Rombauer with Concert Tour ninth.

During this time, Baffert was suspended from entering horses at Churchill Downs and suspended from entering – or stabling – horses at NYRA-operated Belmont Park, Saratoga Race Course and Aqueduct Racetrack until the Derby issue is resolved.

The Belmont Stakes (G1), the final leg of the Triple Crown, is June 5.  Until then, we move forward with this weekend.

Weather report for Saturday (May 22):

At Belmont Park: Temperatures in the high 70s most of the day with an 8% chance of rain

At Churchill Downs: Night racing with temperatures in the 80s and a 2% chance of rain.

At Santa Anita Park: Mild temperatures in the mid-60s with a 10% chance of light showers.

(All times are ET)


$100,000 Seek Again Stakes

Post time: 5:12 p.m. (race 9)

What else is new? Trainer Chad Brown’s Flavius is the 2-1 favorite in a field of 4-year-olds and up going 1 mile on the turf.  Brown also sends out 4-1 choice Delaware (winner of the Danger’s Hour last month). Flavius ran fourth in the Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1) on March 6 at Santa Anita. Other top contenders include Decorated Invader at 5-2 and Get Smokin at 5-1.


$150,00 Winning Colors (G3)

Post time: 7:57 p.m. (race 5)

Frank’s Rockette, the 6-5 favorite, and Sconsin, the 8-5 second choice, headline a field of fillies and mares 4 and up going 6 furlongs on the turf. Hall of Famer Bill Mott’s Frank’s Rockette has finished first or second in 12 of her 13 career starts (She was 11th in the BC Sprint)


$100,000 Honeymoon (G3)

Post time: 7:19 p.m. (race 7)

Going Global looks to make it four turf stakes wins in a row when she headlines a field of seven 3-year-old fillies going 1 1/8 miles. Among the top challengers to the 6-5 favorite are Madone at 9-5 and Golden at 8-1. The Ireland-bred filly won last time out by a neck in the Providencia Stakes (G3) at 1 1/8 miles.

$200,000 Santa Maria (G2)

Post time: 4:35 p.m. (race 2)

A four-horse field for this one featuring As Time Goes By at 2-5 taking on two-time Grade 1 winner Ce Ce at 6-5 in what may shape up as a match race. The race is 1 1/16 miles for fillies and mares 3 and up. Ce Ce is trained by Michael McCarthy, who also trains Preakness winner Rombauer. Bob Baffert, who has not been suspended by Santa Anita, trains As Time Goes By, the easy winner of the Santa Margarita (G2) on April 24.

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