Super Saturdays At Belmont, Keeneland are Keys to Crushing the Breeders Cup

Super Saturdays At Belmont, Keeneland are Keys to Crushing the Breeders Cup

The Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships are only about a month away, and Thoroughbred racing's biggest event is fast-approaching on Friday and Saturday, October 30-31. Adding to the excitement for 2015 is the fact that the Breeders' Cup will be held for the first-time ever at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky.

Along with Keeneland, Belmont Park is the other best place for horses to prep for the upcoming Breeders' Cup this fall.

The Belmont Park fall meet is called the "Championship Meet" for a good reason. Belmont Park runs the biggest amount of important fall stakes races that lead up to the Breeders' Cup, and also includes so many different classes of stakes races throughout every division in Thoroughbred racing.

Nobody does the "Breeders' Cup preview" concept better than Belmont Park, which has overloaded its "Super Saturdays" so full of stakes races, that they now require two Super Saturdays in the middle of the Fall Championship Meet. The two fall Super Saturdays alone include 11 Graded stakes worth over $4 million. In all, the Belmont Fall Championship Meet will include a total of 40 stakes worth $10 million.

Foremost amongst Belmont's fall stakes races are the Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" events, which offer automatic berths into the Breeders' Cup championships. These races will be nationally televised events offering prime watching and wagering opportunities on many horses that will be making their next starts in the Breeders' Cup.

Belmont Park Breeders' Cup "Win And You're In" Schedule

Date:Race:Prep for:2015 Purse:
Sept. 26Joe Hirsch Turf ClassicTurf$600,000
Sept. 26Vosburgh InvitationalSprint$400,000
Sept. 26FrizetteJuvenile Fillies$400,000
Oct. 3Jockey Club Gold CupClassic or Dirt Mile$1,000,000
Oct. 3Flower BowlFilly & Mare Turf$500,000
Oct. 3ChampagneJuvenile$500,000

Other important races being run include the Grade 1, $400,000 Beldame for fillies and mares (Distaff), the Grade 2 Gallant Bloom Handicap (Filly & Mare Sprint), the Grade 3, $200,000 Pilgrim (Juvenile Turf), the Grade 2, $400,000 Kelso Handicap at a mile (Dirt Mile), the G3 Miss Grillo (Juvenile Fillies Turf), and the Grade 3, $500,000 Hill Prince for 3-year-old turfers.

It all gets started at Belmont's first Super Saturday on September 26, and that day will be followed by a day of even greater importance the next Saturday on Oct. 3 when both Belmont and Keeneland blow-out many of their Breeders' Cup prep races.

This year's Breeders' Cup will be the 32nd renewal of the Thoroughbred championships. Keeneland will be a first-time host after Santa Anita played host to the event from 2012-2014, marking the first time the Breeders' Cup was held at the same location three straight years. The change of scenery will be a good one, especially for eastern-based horses running in New York and Kentucky, or for horses that spent their summers up at Saratoga.

The eastern horses should have the advantage this season with the BC moved out of California, so it will be behoove handicappers to watch all of the Keeneland and Belmont preps closely for the horses to beat in the Breeders' Cup.

The 2015 Breeders' Cup will consist of 13 races in recent years, including four on Friday and nine on Saturday, Oct. 31. The Friday feature will be the $2 million Distaff, and of course the Saturday feature will be the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic at 1¼ miles. Purses will total $24.5 million for the 13 races.

Not only is the Breeders' Cup at Keeneland for the first time this year, but that, combined with the fact that Keeneland is once again a dirt track, means that the prep races there will have extra added importance this year.

Sixteen stakes worth more than $5 million, including six Grade 1 races, are slated for the 17-day Keeneland Fall Meet. The Breeders' Cup meet opens with the prestigious "Fall Stars Weekend" on Oct. 2-4. In total, Keeneland will host eight Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" stakes with automatic qualifying bids for the Breeders' Cup.

Keeneland's signature Fall Stars Weekend alone will offer nine graded stakes worth $3.7 million. Five of those races are Grade 1 events. Opening day on Friday, Oct. 2 will feature the $400,000 Alcibiades (G1), for 2-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles.

The Saturday, Oct. 3 card includes the Shadwell Turf Mile, for 3-year-olds and up, the $500,000 Breeders' Futurity (G1) for 2-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles, and the $400,000 First Lady (G1), for fillies and mares, 3 years old and up at a mile on turf. Racing on Oct. 4 is led by the $500,000 Spinster (G1), for fillies and mares, 3 years old and up at 1 1/8 miles. 

Handicappers will need to pay close attention to watch the many Breeders' Cup-bound horses prepping at Keeneland. Seven Breeders' Cup Challenge stakes will be run Fall Stars Weekend.

NBC will broadcast live from Keeneland with two "Breeders' Cup Challenge Win and You're In Series" programs on Saturday, October 3 (5-6 p.m. ET) featuring the Breeders' Futurity and Shadwell Turf Mile, and on Sunday, October 4 (5-6 p.m. ET) with the Spinster Stakes and the Bourbon Stakes.

The eighth Breeders' Cup Challenge race is the Jessamine (G3) Stakes on Oct. 7, which awards the winner a berth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.

Keeneland Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" Schedule

DateRace:Prep for:Purse:
Oct. 2Alcibiades-G1Juvenile Fillies$400,000
Oct. 2Phoenix Stakes-G3Sprint$250,000
Oct. 3Shadwell Turf Mile-G1Mile$1,000,000
Oct. 3Breeders' Futurity-G1Juvenile$500,000
Oct. 3TCOA Stakes-G2Filly & Mare Sprint$250,000
Oct. 4Spinster Stakes-G1Distaff$500,000
Oct. 4Bourbon Stakes-G3Juvenile Turf$250,000
Oct. 7Jessamine Stakes-G3Juvenile Fillies Turf$150,000

When looking ahead to the Breeders' Cup, remember that the winners of 40 Breeders' Cup races have made their final prep Keeneland's Fall Meet down through the years, and never have the races been as prominent as this year with Keeneland hosting the Breeders' Cup for the first time. Keeneland's most notable preps, historically, have been in the Thoroughbred Cub of America, Spinster, Shadwell Turf Mile, Alcibiades, and Breeders' Futurity. So pay closest attention to the horses exiting those races.

Last year in the 2014 Breeders' Cup, horses that prepped at Keeneland in October won three Breeders' Cup races: the Filly and Mare Turf (Dayatthespa, the winner of Keeneland's First Lady), the Juvenile Fillies (Take Charge Brandi, the winner of Keeneland's Alcibiades), and the Sprint (Work All Week, the winner of the Keeneland's Phoenix Stakes).

Enjoy the upcoming key Breeders' Cup prep over the next two weekends, especially the ones from Keeneland and Belmont Park. Remember, whether or not you are betting, it is highly important to watch all of these races if you are looking forward to a successful and profitable Breeders' Cup Day next month at Keeneland. The final preps begin on Super Saturday No. 1 on Sept. 26. Watch the outcomes of those race carefully, and you will take your first steps on your way to a winning 2015 Breeders' Cup. Best of luck.

By Noel Michaels

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