The year is almost over, and the vast majority of the big races are over as well. However, a few big stakes events still remain. Churchill Downs, Aqueduct, Del Mar, Santa Anita, and others still have important days remaining. Here are five MUST SEE races still left in 2017:
1. Cigar Mile (Grade 1)
When: December 2, 2017
Why Watch: This seems to be the field drawing the most interest. Diversify will lead the charge off of back-to-back blowout wins, including the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup in his last start. He was under heavy consideration for the Breeders’ Cup Classic and probably would have been one of the top five or six choices in the race. Breeders’ Cup Sprint third-place finisher Mind Your Biscuits is also pointing for the race. His late-running charge will be interesting to watch at a mile. Finally, Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile fourth-place finisher Practical Joke will be making his last career start in this spot. The 3-year-old colt has never lost when running in a one-turn race.
2. Clark Handicap (Grade 1)
When: November 24, 2017
Where: Churchill Downs
Why Watch: Every year, this is a highlight on the racing calendar. As tradition holds, the Clark Handicap is contested on Black Friday. Last year, Gun Runner took home the win on his way to a massive 2017 that will end in Horse of the Year honors. Right now, some of the top names on the nominations list include Destin, Good Samaritan, Hoppertunity, and Neolithic. Will this year’s race have the same type of impact as years past?
3. Los Alamitos Futurity (Grade 1)
When: December 9, 2017
Where: Los Alamitos
Why Watch: The Los Alamitos Futurity has almost turned into the Bob Baffert Invitational. Since the race moved to Los Alamitos, Baffert has been victorious in all three runnings. Dortmund, Mor Spirit, and Mastery won for him before going on to various amounts of success. This race has a rich history dating back to when it was contested at Hollywood Park, too. Horses such as A.P. Indy, Real Quiet, Point Given, Brother Derek, Into Mischief, Pioneerof the Nile, Lookin at Lucky, and Shared Belief have won this historic race.
4. Malibu Stakes (Grade 1)
When: December 26, 2017
Where: Santa Anita
Why Watch: Christmas Day for horse players comes on December 26th! This is one of the most celebrated days of racing. The day after Christmas is Opening Day at Santa Anita and the Malibu is the feature race on the card each year. The race serves as the last Grade 1 event on the racing calendar and is also one of the last opportunities for 3-year-olds to face horses their own age. It’s also a card that’s heavily handicapped, as racing goes dark for the two days leading up in celebration of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
5. Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (Grade 2)
When: November 25, 2017
Where: Churchill Downs
Why Watch: Churchill Downs is home to one of the coolest cards of the year, running an all-2-year-old “Stars of Tomorrow” program on the final Saturday of their fall meeting. The Kentucky Jockey Club is the feature race on that card and usually produces a few nice Kentucky Derby prospects. McCraken won the race last year, and in 2009, Super Saver took home the prize before winning the Kentucky Derby the following year.
Honorable Mentions: Hollywood Turf Cup (Del Mar), Hollywood Derby (Del Mar), Golden Rod Stakes (Churchill Downs), Matriarch Stakes (Del Mar), Remsen Stakes (Aqueduct), Starlet Stakes (Los Alamitos), Springboard Mile (Remington Park), La Brea Stakes (Santa Anita)