Seven stakes races highlight Breeders' Cup undercards

Profile Picture: Alastair Bull

November 1st, 2017

Thirteen Breeders’ Cup races understandably take precedence at Del Mar Nov. 3-4, but punters shouldn’t ignore some excellent racing on the undercards.

This is particularly the case on Friday, which features two graded races: the 1 ¾-mile Marathon (G2), and the five-furlong Senator Ken Maddy Stakes for fillies and mares.

Hard Aces won a Gold Cup at Santa Anita (G1) early in his career but seems better suited to stamina races. He finished second in the Marathon last year and his best effort in 2017 was a victory in the 1 ½-mile Tokyo City Cup.

Argentinian-bred mare Estrechada, ninth last year, is back following her victory in the Waya Stakes (G2) on turf at Saratoga, while an intriguing runner is last year’s Belmont Stakes runner-up Destin.

Firsthand Report is the 7-2 morning line favorite for the Senator Ken Maddy Stakes after winning three of her last four races, all ungraded stakes events, in Pennsylvania. She’s opposed by a good combination of improving horses and previous stakes winners that include So Sweetitiz, Belvoir Bay, Vigor, Long Hot Summer, and Street Surrender.

Also run on Friday is the seven-furlong Damascus Stakes, which has drawn a highly competitive field of sprinters, including Santa Anita Sprint Championship Stakes (G1) runner-up Mr. Hinx, Pat O’Brien Stakes (G2) third-place finisher Silent Bird, and the popular veteran Kobe’s Back.

The meeting includes two seven-furlong juvenile races for California-sired or California-bred 2-year-olds. Ismelucky is expected to start favorite in Friday’s Golden State Juvenile Fillies’ Stakes after her victory in the Barretts Debutante Stakes over the colt Smokem, the morning-line favorite in Saturday’s Golden State Juvenile Stakes.

Two other stakes races begin the card on Saturday along with the Golden State Juvenile Stakes. In the one-mile Goldikova Stakes (G2) for fillies and mares on turf, the loose 9-2 morning line favorite is On Leave, who bounced back to winning form in the All Along Stakes at Laurel Park Sept. 16.

E.P. Taylor Stakes (G1) runner-up Kitten’s Roar should be hard to beat, as should English raider Aljazzi, winner of the Atalanta Stakes (G3) at Sandown Sept. 2.

In the five-furlong Juvenile Turf Sprint Stakes, Bolton Landing Stakes winner March X Press is the morning-line favorite. Wesley Ward has three runners – Bolton Landing Stakes runner-up Fairyland, along with McErin and Elizabeth Darcy, while Godolphin’s Sound and Silence, winner of the Prix Eclipse (G3) and second in the Cornwallis Stakes (G3) should be strongly considered.