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SATURDAY'S JIM DANDY STAKES AT SARATOGA, SUNDAY'S HASKELL INVITATIONAL AT MONMOUTH TAKE "THE ROAD TO THE WORLD THOROUGHBRED CHAMPIONSHIPS"
Point Given, Congaree, A P Valentine Head Fields on ESPN and ESPN2
Three-year-old colts take center stage in this week's edition of "The Road to the World Thoroughbred Championships," the three-month racing series airing on the ESPN networks, and the main attractions are expected to be Point Given, Congaree, and A P Valentine, three of the dominant horses in this year's Triple Crown series.
Featured this week on "The Road to the World Thoroughbred Championships" are a pair of Grade I, 1 1/8 miles races, Saratoga's $600,000 Jim Dandy, airing on ESPN Saturday, August 4, from 5:00-6:00 p.m. (ET), and Monmouth Park's $1.5 million Haskell Invitational, Sunday, August 5, from 6:00-7:00 p.m. (ET) on ESPN2. The top three finishers in both the Jim Dandy and Haskell will earn Breeders' Cup Classic Division points. Point Given currently leads the division standings with 36 points.
Returning to the racetrack for the first time since smashing victories in the Preakness and Belmont Stakes, Point Given tries for three Grade I wins in a row in the Haskell, where a field of seven or eight, including Burning Roma and Hero's Tribute, is expected. Haskell competitors who went on to capture the Breeders' Cup Classic are Alysheba (2nd in 1987 Haskell, won 1988 Classic), Concern (3rd in 1994 Haskell, won 1994 Classic), Skip Away (won 1966 Haskell and 1997 Classic) and Cat Thief (2nd in 1999 Haskell, won 1999 Classic). Cherokee Run finished fourth in the 1994 Haskell before winning the same year's Breeders' Cup Sprint.
The Jim Dandy will pit Point Given's stablemate, Congaree, who posted an easy win in last month's Swaps Stakes, his first effort since back-to-back third place finishes in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, and A P Valentine, the Preakness and Belmont runner-up. Point Given and Congaree are trained by Bob Baffert, who leads the nation's trainers in 2001 earnings, while A P Valentine is handled by New York mainstay Nick Zito. The Jim Dandy's past winners include such champions as Affirmed (1978), Conquistador Cielo (1982) and Arts And Letters (1969). Awesome Again (1997 Jim Dandy winner) went on to win the Breeders' Cup Classic in 1998.
"The Road to the World Thoroughbred Championships" began with Congaree's victory in the Swaps and culminates with a one-hour Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships special on October 26 on ESPN2, the day before the eight-race, $13 million Championships is held at Belmont Park. Including Saturday's Jim Dandy and Sunday's Haskell, the series will feature 14 hours of horse racing coverage on both ESPN and ESPN2. (See below for complete schedule.) Hosting Saturday's telecast will be Jim Kelly, joined by analysts Randy Moss and Charlsie Cantey and essayist Jack Whitaker. Sunday's telecast will be hosted by Jeff Medders, working with Moss and Kenny Rice.
"This year's Triple Crown races attracted a great deal of attention across the nation, and we're delighted that three of the horses who helped generate that excitement will be running on The Road to the World Thoroughbred Championships this coming weekend," said Breeders' Cup president and NTRA vice chairman D.G. Van Clief Jr.
ADDITIONAL "ROAD TO THE WORLD THOROUGHBRED CHAMPIONSHIPS" COVERAGE ON NTRA 2DAY AT THE RACES
The NTRA is a broad-based coalition of horseracing interests, including the American Quarter Horse Association, charged with increasing awareness of Thoroughbred racing and improving economic conditions for industry participants. The NTRA also conducts the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, racing's year-end Championship consisting of eight races and $13 million in purses and awards, and the Breeders' Cup National Stakes Program, which are funded by the industry's owners and breeders. The NTRA has offices in Lexington, Ky., and New York City. A compendium of NTRA press releases appears on the NTRA Web site, ntra.com, and at the Web site for the Breeders' Cup Championship, breederscup.com. Contact the NTRA at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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