Wow! What a weekend it was in the world of horse racing. Opening Days at Del Mar and Saratoga are always exciting, and they did not disappoint us once again this year. We saw the return – and shocking defeat – of the world’s greatest race horse, as well as two fantastic Grade 1 stakes races at Saratoga. Let’s see who made our Three Stars of the Week.
Yeah… I’m sure everyone saw this one coming. I guess when you knock off the “unbeatable” Arrogate, you deserve the number one star of the week! Saturday’s Grade 2 San Diego Handicap at Del Mar was supposed to be all about the return of Arrogate, but instead, it was Accelerate who pulled off one of the biggest upsets in horse racing history. Accelerate took the lead right from the start and never looked back while running an eye-catching 109 Beyer speed figure. Sure, it helped that Arrogate was a no-show, but give Accelerate credit for running a great race.
2. Lady Eli
She is simply a treasure! There aren’t enough good things that you can say about Lady Eli, who once again captured our hearts with a gutty win in the Grade 1 Diana Stakes on Saturday at Saratoga. There isn’t anything that this mare can’t overcome, which this time included breaking early from the gate before the race had started. However, she composed herself and still had enough energy to run down a massive effort from Quidura to win by a nose. This race was most likely her last start at Saratoga, as she will now be pointed for Belmont Park and then (of course) the Breeders’ Cup.
3. Abel Tasman
Sunday’s Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks showed the world why getting a rider like Mike Smith is so important. Smith rode Abel Tasman brilliantly to pick a up a nose win over Elate, giving Abel Tasman three straight Grade 1 victories in a row (after the Kentucky Oaks and the Acorn). This filly was almost an afterthought in May but is now firmly entrenched as the number-one 3-year-old filly in the country. This win will make her nearly impossible to overtake in the division and sets her up for even more success as the year progresses.