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The Triple Crown season was made to appeal to the masses, but the summer racing schedule is specifically for horse racing fans. Saratoga, the birthplace of American racing, begins soon, as does Del Mar, where the surf meets the turf.
Here’s a look at some of the major “can’t-miss” races taking place at those tracks this year, as well as some other major events happening this summer!
Where: Saratoga Race Course
When: Saturday, August 28th
Why it’s a CAN’T-MISS Race: This will always be the biggest race of the summer. Nicknamed “The Mid-Summer Derby,” this event has helped determine several 3-year-old Eclipse Award winners. This year, the Travers is the main target for Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Essential Quality, who enters the summer as the top horse in his division. However, Saratoga has produced many upsets in its storied history, so anything can happen at the track dubbed “The Graveyard of Champions.”
Where: Del Mar
When: Saturday, August 21st
Why it’s a CAN’T-MISS Race: With the Breeders’ Cup being held at Del Mar this fall, the Pacific Classic becomes even more important than “just” serving as the marquee event of the Del Mar summer meet. This year, 3-year-old Hot Rod Charlie is rumored to be pointing towards the race, as is Country Grammer, who’s run very well so far under new trainer Bob Baffert. Expect more shippers than usual this season as horsemen across the country and beyond give their horses a try over the track before the year-end World Championships.
Where: Saratoga Race Course
When: Saturday, August 7th
Why it’s a CAN’T-MISS Race: It’s the second-biggest race of the season at America’s grandest track, which is really all that needs to be said. Top horses such as Mystic Guide, Maxfield, and Silver State could all show up to face several other top older handicap runners. The Breeders’ Cup Classic might be the top race for the older handicap division, but this race is probably second.
Where: Monmouth Park
When: Saturday, July 17th
Why it’s a CAN’T-MISS Race: It seems like this race gets better and better each season. Last year, Authentic won here before (strangely enough) winning the Kentucky Derby (G1) in his next start. This year’s Kentucky Derby “winner” Medina Spirit could target the race in what would become a rematch with Mandaloun, who will likely end up being made the new Derby “winner” when all is said and done. They both might have to face Belmont Stakes (G1) runner-up Hot Rod Charlie, who could be very difficult to beat.
Where: Arlington Park
When: Saturday, August 14th
Why it’s a CAN’T-MISS Race: It might not be called the Arlington Million this year because of a purse reduction, but it remains a big-time event. Top American turf trainer Chad Brown loves this day of racing, so you know he’ll bring some big-time runners including Domestic Spending, rumored to be making his next start in this race. He’s currently the #1 turf horse in this country and is one of the top-ranked horses in the world.
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