Thursday, Friday, and Saturday Offer Plenty

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Ted Black

November 3rd, 2016

Over the next three days both standardbred and thoroughbred racing fans will have plenty of exceptional horses to watch as Dover Downs hosts a quartet of Matron Stakes for two-year-olds on Thursday then Santa Anita will present two days of Breeders' Cup Championship races on Friday and Saturday.

Thursdays four Matron Stakes for freshmen will offer a combined sum of over $600,000 in purses and many of the best two-year-olds of both gaits and genders will be on hand. But all four Matrons are literally consolations for their connections since the Breeders Crown finals for these divisions were just contested last weekend.

Perhaps the horse with the most to gain on the Thursday card is Devious Man, a Maryland-bred trotting colt who failed to reach his Breeders Crown final. The Julie Miller trainee has enjoyed a solid campaign that includes several New York Sire Stakes splits and the $225,000 NYSS final at Yonkers Raceway in September. His connections would like to see him attain a Matron tally as a hint of redemption for last weekend.
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Then on Friday afternoon Santa Anita will host a quartet of Breeders' Cup events, with the main event being the finale, the $2 million Distaff at one-mile and an eighth for fillies and mares. Three of the ladies are garnering the most attention, but one of them is clearly going to take center stage.

Songbird has won all 11 of her career starts to date and the three-year-old filly has already secured divisional honors and is a prime contender for horse of the year. Songbird has yet to beat older, so she can satisfy her remaining skeptics by capturing the Distaff against several of the best fillies and mares in training.

Over the last three months Beholder and Stellar Wind have clashed in three Grade I events, with Stellar Wind actually winning the last two. Friday afternoon both will have the chance to secure divisional honors and perhaps thwart Songbirds bid for horse of the year honors. Curalina and Forever Unbridled have both performed well on the East Coast and both merit respect although both will get dramatically overlooked at the windows.

Then on Saturday afternoon Santa Anita will offer the remaining eight Breeders' Cup events, while again the finale on the card will take center stage.

Saturday's finale will be the $6 million Breeders' Cup Classic, which will have impacts on several division title chases and horse of the year. California Chrome is clearly the leader in the clubhouse at this point and the 2014 horse of the year can add two more Eclipse Award trophies to the mantle if he wins this event.

But Travers hero Arrogate can join the argument if he can duplicate his performance at Saratoga in August. A win could catapult him to the three-year-old title, especially in a year when clubhouse leader Exaggerator has been inconsistent and Derby winner Nyquist just retired. But Arrogate would also need Songbird to taste defeat on Friday and then prevail on Saturday to stake his claim for horse of the year honors.