Dose Of Weekend Graded Stakes A Cure For Any Breeders' Cup Hangover

Startup Mentality | Sarah Andrew

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Sailing into the weekend fresh off the Breeders' Cup might sound like a bit of a letdown, but there is some graded racing scheduled that will cure any hangover of the purple and white variety.

Across a triad of tracks, including Aqueduct, Woodbine and Churchill Downs, we find both Grade II and Grade III races over the turf and the Tapeta which should come as a welcome dose.

First on Saturday, the Big A cards the GIII Pebbles S., which is a one mile battle on the Inner Turf. If Chad Brown trainee Rhiannon (Medaglia d'Oro) can build on her first grass attempt at second asking, which was an impressive seven-length score Sept. 16, then she's the pick.

Before we send the bay filly straight to the winner's circle, don't count out her stablemate, Startup Mentality (Ire) (Kingman {GB}), who debuted a winner at Monmouth Park July 22. Nor should we negate the talent of GI Coaching Club Oaks runner-up Sacred Wish (Not This Time). The George Weaver trainee finished just off the board in the GIII Valley View S. at Keeneland Oct. 27.

Towards the end of the Aqueduct card the renewal of the GII Red Smith S. includes a number of experienced older turf experts who will take on the 3-year-old upstart and younger brother to MGISW Nest (Curlin) in Lost Ark (Violence). Last seen winning the off the turf GI Jockey Club Invitational Oct. 7 during the Belmont at the Big A meet, the Todd Pletcher trainee is going to have his work cut out for him against the likes of MGISP Soldier Rising (GB) (Frankel {GB}) and GSW Verstappen (War Front).

The Sunday action concludes in Ozone Park with the GIII Long Island S., which will be headlined by GSW Vergara (Noble Mission {GB}).

Heading to Canada, Woodbine Racetrack puts on a pair of Saturday graded stakes races in the GIII Maple Leaf and the GII Bessarabian. Both have large fields, but the latter might be the most intriguing with several alums present from the GIII Ontario Fashion S. Oct. 14. Out of the bunch, look for GSW Loyalty (Hard Spun) to get back to her winning ways for Gainesway Stable and LNJ Foxwoods.

Trucking down to Churchill Downs that same afternoon, the GIII River City S. is a nine-furlong route over the Matt Winn Turf Course. You'll recognize stalwarts GISW Rockemperor (Ire) (Holy Roman Emperor {Ire}) and GSW Cellist (big Blue Kitten), plus older colts like GSW Kitodan (Point of Entry), GSP Smokin' T (War Front) and GSW Grand Sonata (Medaglia d'Oro). A mark of consistency, SP Siege of Boston (War Front) takes his first shot at graded company for owner Joseph Allen and trainer James Toner.

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