On Saturday, August 28, all eyes will be on Saratoga as Belmont Stakes winner and top-rated three-year-old Essential Quality runs in the the Travers Stakes. Check out top plays and Horse Racing Odds for the Top Stakes Races of the Week from Saturday, August 28th. You can also visit our Online Racebook to place your bets on active racetracks.
Top Stakes Races for the Week – Seven Graded Races at The Spa on Saturday
Saratoga Race Course – Saturday, Aug. 28
- Grade 2 Ballston Spa – 1 1/16 miles turf – $400,000
Four horses are confirmed to run in the Ballston Spa, three of which come from the Chad Brown barn. Brown trains Viadera, Tamahere, and Kalifornia Queen. Anthony Dutrow puts the saddle on High Opinion.
- Grade 1 Ballerina – 7 furlongs dirt – $500,000
Bob Baffert trained monster Gamine should go off less than even money to win the Grade 1 Ballerina. Lake Avenue, Ce Ce, Estilo Talentoso, Truth Hurts, and Sconsin will also run.
- Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens – 7 furlongs dirt – $500,000
Now trained by Todd Pletcher, winter book Kentucky Derby favorite Life Is Good returns to the races on Saturday to run in the 7 furlong, Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens. Named after one of the best trainers in thoroughbred racing history, the H. Allen Jerkens will also showcase Grade 2 Amsterdam winner Jackie’s Warrior and the runner up from that race, Drain the Clock.
- Grade 1 Personal Ensign – 1 1/8 miles dirt – $600,000
On Saturday, top female thoroughbreds Swiss Skydiver and Letruska resume their rivalry in the $600,000 Personal Ensign. This year’s Personal Ensign is a deep race. Bajan Girl, Harvey’s Lil Goil, Graceful Princess, Miss Marissa, Royal Flag, and Bonney South will try to upset the two favorites.
- Grade 1 Forego – 7 furlongs dirt – $600,000
Some of the best sprinters in the country will enter the Forego starting gate. Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt upset winner Lexitonian leads a brigade that includes 2020 Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Whitmore, Steve Asmussen trained Yaupon, super quick Mischievous Alex, Chance It, and Mind Control.
- Grade 1 Sword Dancer – 1 ½ miles turf – $750,000
Trainer Aidan O’Brien will saddle a couple of contenders in the Sword Dancer. Both Japan and Mogul have a shot to beat Cristophe Clement trained Gufo, Tribhuvan from the Chad Brown barn, and Bill Mott trained Channel Maker.
- Grade 1 Travers Stakes – 1 ¼ miles dirt – $1,250,000
On paper, it looks as if Essential Quality will dominate the Travers Stakes field. But races happen on tracks, not on paper, which is why horseplayers must handicap the Travers Stakes fully before dumping on Quality. Don’t forget that American Pharoah lost the Travers in 2015. They don’t call Saratoga the Graveyard of Favorites for nothing!
Which horses will attempt to take down Essential Quality? Todd Pletcher trained Dynamic One and Chad Brown trained Miles D look like the top two contenders. Masqueparade, Keepmeinmind, and Midnight Bourbon could also have a chance depending on the pace.