Sports fans across the country will be tuning in to the horse racing action this Saturday with hopes of witnessing something great. These hopes will not be unwarranted - some of the finest fillies and mares in our country will be loading into the starting gates at Keeneland, Belmont Park, and Delaware Park with the intention of putting on a truly sensational performance. Among the horses entered in today’s graded stakes races are Monomoy Girl, Guarana, Speech, and Swiss Skydiver.
Perhaps the most popular race of the weekend will be Monomoy Girl’s return in the Ruffian Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park. Monomoy Girl won five Grade 1 races in 2018, proving herself as the best filly in the country by winning the Kentucky Oaks (G1) and defeating older mares in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1). A string of physical ailments kept her out of the races for twenty-months after her Breeders’ Cup victory. When Monomoy Girl finally made her long awaited return in an Allowance Optional Claimer at Churchill Downs, she made sure it wasn’t a disappointing one; she won impressively. This daughter of Tapizar is clearly a Grade 1 caliber horse, so she is rightfully the heavy favorite in the Ruffian Stakes. She will still have to fend off Bob Baffert’s Mother Mother, but the race will help her on her path to the Breeders’ Cup Distaff regardless.
Headlining the Madison Stakes (G1) is Guarana, one of the most talented fillies of 2019. Guarana forced herself into the spotlight at the start of her career, romping in her debut at Keeneland by 14 ¾ lengths. She followed up that victory with two Grade 1 wins - the Acorn Stakes and Coaching Club American Oaks - and finished second in the Cotillion (G1). Much like Monomoy Girl, Gurana had to take some time off the races due to some physical problems and recently returned victoriously in an Allowance Optional Claiming at Churchill Downs. While Guarana is the favorite in the Madison Stakes (G1), she will be facing some tough competition from horses like Mia Mischief and Sally’s Curlin. If she performs well, there will be little doubt on how successful the rest of her 2020 campaign is going to be.
A field of five fillies are lining up for the Ashland Stakes (G1) to compete for points towards the Kentucky Oaks. This prep race features the highly regarded filly Speech. Speech has had a string of really tough losses. She has finished second in two Allowance Optional Claiming races as well as the Santa Ysabel Stakes (G3) and Santa Anita Oaks (G2). She is primed and ready to get back into the winner’s circle after all of those losses, but talented fillies like Venetian Harbor and Bonny South will be giving her a run for her money.
The Ashland Stakes is going to be an interesting race, regardless of who hits the wire first.
Dunbar Road, the beautiful daughter of Quality Road, will be aiming to be 2-for-2 after the Delaware Park Handicap (G2). Dunbar Road won the Mother Goose Stakes (G2) and Alabama Stakes (G1) last year before suffering some tough beats in the Spinster Stakes (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Distaff. She is coming into this race off of a stakes victory at Churchill Downs. Still, she will need to get to the wire before Bellera and Always Shopping do.
Rushing Fall is entered in the competitive Jenny Wiley Stakes (G1). She is coming into the race off a victory in the Beaugay Stakes (G3) in June, her first and only race of the year. She will have to defeat the fast Brazilian mare Jolie Olimpica, but if she does, she will join Beholder and Lady Eli as just the third horse to win the Grade 1 race at 2,3,4, and 5. That would be indeed be a special thing to witness.
Perhaps the most exciting race of the weekend is the Blue Grass Stakes (G2). This race is a Kentucky Derby prep race and rarely sees fillies loading into the starting gates, but Swiss Skydiver is going to be giving them a run for their money. This daughter of Daredevil has won three consecutive races against horses of her own gender: the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2), Fantasy Stakes (G3), and Santa Anita Oaks (G2).
If she wins or places in the Blue Grass Stakes (G2), Swiss Skydiver can be on her way to competing in the sport’s most recognized and celebrated races: the Kentucky Derby. We don’t get to see a filly running in the Kentucky Derby very often, so it is always special to see a filly with a good chance to do it. "She really is special," Bret Callahan told BloodHorse.com. "I think she's been at six tracks and has had five jockeys in her seven races. We're asking a lot out of her, and she keeps getting it done. She's very resilient. She seems to continue to improve in the face of increasing competition. We have our fingers crossed that she stays in form." All in all, it’s going to be a great weekend of racing for fillies and mares. Make sure you tune in so you don’t miss a second of the action. Post Times: Ruffian Stakes - 2:55 ET
Madison Stakes - 3:18 ET
Ashland Stakes - 4:24 ET Delaware Handicap - 4:45 ET Jenny Wiley Stakes - 4:57 ET
Blue Grass Stakes - 5:30 ET
[Watch: Swiss Skydiver (#1) win the Santa Anita Oaks. Speech, #3, is running in the Ashland Stakes]
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