(Keeneland / Coady Photography)
From the Keeneland Media Team:
SATURDAY WAGERING FEATURES
ALL-GRADED STAKES CROSS COUNTRY PICK 5
Tomorrow’s Cross Country Pick 5 wager will feature both graded stakes from Keeneland along with graded stakes action from Belmont and Monmouth in a wager hosted by the New York Racing Association.
The race order and approximate post times (ET) are as follows:
Leg A Monmouth race 8 (3:53 p.m.): Monmouth (G3)
Leg B Belmont race 8 (4:14 p.m.): Flower Bowl (G1)
Leg C Keeneland race 8 (4:57 p.m.): Hagyard Fayette (G2)
Leg D Belmont race 10 (5:20 p.m.): Sands Point (G2)
Leg E Keeneland race 9 (5:30 p.m.): Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) Presented by Dixiana
Free Equibase past performances for the Cross Country Pick 5 sequence are available athttps://www.nyra.com/belmont/racing/cross-country-wagers.
SWEET MELANIA MAKES DELAYED RETURN FOR SATURDAY’S
QUEEN ELIZABETH II CHALLENGE CUP PRESENTED BY DIXIANA
When last seen at Keeneland a year ago, Robert and Lawana Low’s Sweet Melania was running her way into the record book with a stakes-record 5½-length victory in the JPMorgan Chase Jessamine (G2).
Following time off after her third-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) at Santa Anita, the daughter of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah was going to start her 3-year-old campaign here.
“The original plan was to run in April at Keeneland,” trainer Todd Pletcher said via text. “COVID-19 delayed that.”
Sweet Melania instead began appearing on the work tab at Palm Beach Downs in Florida that month. In her 2020 debut, the filly won the Wonder Again (G3) in June at Belmont Park.
Sweet Melania, a $600,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase, comes into Saturday’s $500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) Presented by Dixiana off a nose defeat in the Lake George (G3) at Saratoga on Aug. 28.
“We have been pointing to the Queen Elizabeth since the Lake George,” Pletcher said.
Sweet Melania arrived at Keeneland Sept. 29 and has been under the watchful eye of Pletcher assistant Amelia Green, who has been her regular rider in the mornings since Sweet Melania arrived at Saratoga in June 2019.
“She’s a happy little filly and a delight to ride,” Green said. “She has not changed from (age) 2 to 3. She loves her job. She’s pretty special.”
TIMING IS RIGHT FOR RED LARK (IRE) TO FLY IN TO KEENELAND FOR QE II
Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners’ Red Lark (IRE), the 19-1 upset winner of the Del Mar Oaks (G1) in her most recent start, figures to be flying under the radar again Saturday when she goes postward in the 37thrunning of the $500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) Presented by Dixiana.
“There was a race in New York, this race or a race against older horses at Santa Anita,” trainer Paddy Gallagher said of what loomed on the horizon for Red Lark following the Del Mar victory. “I talked with the owners and the timing here was good, so let’s take a shot.”
Red Lark began her career in Europe and came to Gallagher’s barn at the end of 2019.
“She had been running two-turn races in Europe and was a nice little filly,” Gallagher of his introduction to Red Lark, who arrived at Keeneland on Wednesday.
With Drayden Van Dyke aboard, Red Lark broke her maiden in her second U.S. start by a nose going the QE II distance of 1 1/8 miles. Stakes activity followed with minor success, including a runner-up performance against older fillies and mares in the Wilshire (G3), but no victories until the Del Mar Oaks.
Van Dyke, who has ridden Red Lark in her past four starts, has the call Saturday.
GARGAN HAS HAGYARD FAYETTE HOPEFUL TAX
READY TO ROLL OFF LAYOFF
The only time Tax has run at Keeneland was two years ago in a $50,000 maiden claiming race. The stakes will be much higher Saturday when the now 4-year-old gelding goes postward in the 63rd running of the $200,000 Hagyard Fayette (G2).
“He’s doing well,” said trainer Danny Gargan, who claimed Tax out of that Keeneland race. “I gave him three months off (after the May 2 Oaklawn Handicap-G2) because he really hadn’t had a break.”
Now owned by the partnership of R. A. Hill Stable, Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Hugh Lynch and Corms Racing Stable, Tax won the Jim Dandy (G2) and the Withers (G3). He also finished second in the Wood Memorial (G2) and Discovery (G3).
“I had targeted this race (Hagyard Fayette) because I like the mile and an eighth (distance),” Gargan said. “I didn’t want to go a mile and a quarter right off the bench.”
One concern of Gargan’s for Saturday is the strong possibility of rain most of the day and the chance for an off track. In Tax’s only off-track race, he was 14th in last year’s Kentucky Derby (G1) Presented by Woodford Reserve.
“That one probably shouldn’t count because it was more like a swamp,” Gargan said.
Keeneland Racing Analyst Tom Leach talked to trainer Wesley Ward about Stillwater Cove, his entrant in today’s Buffalo Trace Franklin County (G3).
THIRD WEEK STAKES PROBABLES
$150,000 SYCAMORE (G3) (Entries taken Saturday; race Thursday, Oct. 15): Eons (trained by Arnaud Delacour), He’s No Lemon (Graham Motion), North Dakota (Shug McGaughey), Postulation (Michael Matz), Red Knight (Bill Mott), Split the Wickets (Tom Van Berg), Surprise Twist (Delacour), Ziyad (GB)(Motion).
$150,000 PIN OAK VALLEY VIEW (G3) (Entries taken Sunday; race Friday, Oct. 16) – Outburst (GB) (Eddie Kenneally), Princess Grace (Mike Stidham), Stunning Sky (Mike Maker), Walk In Marrakesh (IRE) (Ignacio Correas IV), Witez (Ian Wilkes).
$200,000 LEXUS RAVEN RUN (G2) (Entries taken Wednesday, Oct. 14; race Saturday, Oct. 17) – Center Aisle (Chad Brown), Fair Maiden (Eoin Harty), Finite (Steve Asmussen), Four Graces (Ian Wilkes), Grand Cru Classe (Bill Mott), Reagan’s Edge (Cherie DeVaux), Sconsin (Greg Foley),Secondary Market (Brown), Secret Keeper (Cliff Sise), Tonalist’s Shape (Saffie Joseph Jr.), Venetian Harbor (Richard Baltas). Possible: Impeccable Style (Brendan Walsh).
$125,000 ROOD & RIDDLE DOWAGER (G3) (Entries taken Thursday, Oct. 15; race Sunday, Oct. 18) – Always Shopping (Todd Pletcher), Hungry Kitten (Shug McGaughey), Over Thinking (Vicki Oliver), Positive Spirit (Mike Stidham), Quiet Dignity (Mike Maker), Siberian Iris (IRE) (Richard Mandella).
FALL MEET LEADERS
Through Oct. 8 (5 days of 17-day season)