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TWO YEAR OLDS still have time to work on getting a foundation and avoiding the Apollo Curse*. This weekend will see a number of contests both maiden and graded stakes for two year olds to help them sharpen their skills for the Derby Trail ahead. On Saturday, among the races for juveniles are the G2 REMSEN at Aqueduct, CORONATION FUTURITY at Woodbine, and the G2 KENTUCKY JOCKEY CLUB at Churchill Downs. On Sunday, the two year old turfers can test the grass at Del Mar in the CECIL DE MILLE stakes. The FILLIES have a few options as well with the G2 DEMOISELLE at Aqueduct, the G2 GOLDEN ROD at Churchill Downs, and the G3 JIMMY DURANTE at Del Mar.
On Friday, the SEABISCUIT HANDICAP on the turf at Del Mar will see MR. COMMONS (8/1) try to break his dry spell against 5/2 favorite TOM'S TRIBUTE and others that include ZA APPROVAL, PURE TACTICS, and BIG BANE THEORY.
The $300,000 Grade 1 MATRIARCH for 3+ fillies and mares on Sunday at Del Mar includes a cross-entry by Lexie Lou, however, she is expected to run in the Hollywood Derby.
Now for the Marquee Events for the weekend:
The $500,000 Grade 1 CLARK on Friday represents an opportunity for the sophomores to meet their elders in a renewal that dates back to the opening of Churchill Downs, where it was first contested in 1875. HOPPERTUNITY and CONSTITUTION are co-favorites at the morning line odds of 7/2. Others expected to have a say in the outcome are DEPARTING and PRAYER FOR RELIEF.
The G1 $500,000 CIGAR MILE Saturday at Aqueduct will feature SECRET CIRCLE (2/1), PRIVATE ZONE (3/1), ITSMYLUCKYDAY (5/1), TRANSPARENT (6/1), VYJACK (8/1) as the single-digit favorites, with 4 others expected to complete the 9-horse lineup.
Sitting atop the weekend fare is the much anticipated clash of dual Classic winner, CALIFORNIA CHROME, and the Canadian QUEEN'S PLATE winner, LEXIE LOU meet 4 others in the $300,000 G1 HOLLYWOOD DERBY at Del Mar.
INTERNATIONAL: Sunday, Group 1 JAPAN DERBY
The 34th Japan Cup, the richest race of the Japan Racing Association -- about $4 Million USD -- fetched 19 nominations, including three from abroad – Trading Leather, Ivanhowe and Up With the Birds – and 13 Grade 1 winners. While past results in the Japan Cup have been near even with the hosts winning 19 times and the visitors 14, Japanese horses have owned the 2,400-meter competition in recent years, having won the last eight races. Alkaased, under Lanfranco Dettori, was the last champion from overseas in 2005 when he set the race record of 2 minutes, 22.1 seconds which still holds today. Top Japanese horses include the world's top ranked horse, JUST A WAY, GENTILDONNA (2 time winner of Japan Cup), HARP STAR, DENIM and RUBY, ISLA BONITA, SPIELBERG. Read more at source...
Handicapper's report on Japanese horses
Training report - foreign horses
*Since 1882, no horse has won the Kentucky Derby who did not run as a Juvenile. Named for the last horse to accomplish that feat, it has been known ever since as the "Apollo Curse".
DRF will LIVE STREAM the full card at DEL MAR on SUNDAY - click here
After a race has been completed, you can return here to watch replay at BloodHorse available through the CARD link.