This weekend, the final prep races for the Nov. 5 and Nov. 6 Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships happen. All graded prep races take place at Belmont Park. On Saturday, the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic and Grade 2 Vosburgh take place. Then on Sunday, Belmont runs the Grade 3 Knickerbocker, Grade 3 Futurity, and Grade 2 Beldame.
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Top Stakes Races for the Week
When: Saturday, Oct. 9 – Sunday, Oct. 10
Belmont Park | Saturday, Oct. 9 – Breeders’ Cup Prep Races
Grade 3 Matron Stakes – 6 furlongs turf – $150,000
At least eight fillies will run in the Matron. Among the eight, Bubble Rock, trained by Brad Cox, and Cristophe Clement trained The Club should attract the most attention. Michael Stidham runner Kit Keller, a last out maiden winner, will also get some play.
Grade 2 Vosburgh – 6 furlongs dirt – $250,000
Two-time winner and Todd Pletcher trained Following Sea finished third in the Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial in his last. The Runhappy sired colt couldn’t catch monsters Jackie’s Warrior and Life Is Good. On Saturday, Following Sea faces a field he can handle, which should make him one of the favorites.
Jalen Journey, trained by Steve Asmussen, could go off the chalk. Other contenders include Firenze Fire, who finished second in the Grade 1 Forego in his last, and undefeated Baby Yoda from the Bill Mott Barn.
Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic – 1 ½ miles turf – $500,000
Belmont’s Saturday feature, the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic almost always produces a Breeders’ Cup Turf contender. Gufo, Channel Maker, Japan, and Arklow are just a few of the name horses hoping to take the winner’s share of the $500,000 prize.
Belmont Park | Sunday, Oct. 10
Grade 3 Knickerbocker Stakes – 1 1/8 miles turf – $150,000
Todd Pletcher could saddle a couple for the Knickerbocker, En Wye Cee and No Word. Chad Brown will put the saddle on Sacred Life and Claude “Shug” McGaughey will go with Breaking The Rules.
Grade 3 Futurity Stakes – 6 furlongs turf – $150,000
Five horses are confirmed for the Grade 3 Futurity. Among the five, Todd Pletcher trained Midnight Worker figures to go off the favorite. The Outwork sired runner broke his maiden going 6 furlongs on the lawn. Other contenders include Run Curtis Run from the Mike Maker barn, Juan C. Vasquez trained Dance Code, and two trained by James Chapman, Ready to March and Emma’s Waltz.
Grade 2 Beldame Stakes – 1 1/8 miles dirt – $250,000
This year’s final Breeders’ Cup prep is for the BC Distaff. Both Chad Brown and Todd Pletcher will saddle a couple. Brown’s two runners are Royal Flag and Gold Spirit. Pletcher will send Thankful and Spice is Nice to the starting gate. Bajan Girl and the 2020 Beldame winner, Horologist, should round out the field.