|Contact: Eric Wing, NTRA, (212) 907-9283|
Jeff Shapes, (203) 249-9202
TOP RACES FROM SARATOGA, DEL MAR AND ENGLAND FEATURED ON “THE ROAD TO THE WORLD THOROUGHBRED CHAMPIONSHIPS” THIS SATURDAY AND SUNDAY
Three stakes races from the opening weekend of the 2002 Saratoga racing season, including live coverage of the Grade I, $250,000 Test Stakes and same-day coverage of the Grade I, $250,000 Go For Wand Handicap, highlight this week's "Road to the World Thoroughbred Championships" programs, to be telecast Saturday from 5:00-6:00 p.m. (ET) on ESPN and Sunday from 6:00-7:00 p.m. (ET) on ESPN2. Also on tap is same-day coverage of Saturday’s Group I, £750,000 ($1.18 million) King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes from Ascot Racecourse in England,
The Test, a seven-furlong race for three-year-old fillies, is part of the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships Sprint Division. The King George (John Deere Turf/Classic Divisions) is part of the International Road to the World Thoroughbred Championships. The Test and the King George will air Saturday along with same-day taped coverage of the Grade II, $500,000 Diana Handicap (Filly & Mare Turf Division), a 1 1/8-miles race on the turf. Sunday's telecast will feature the Go For Wand Handicap (Distaff), a 1 1/8-miles race for fillies & mares, three-and-up, and taped coverage of Del Mar's John C. Mabee/Ramona Handicap (Filly & Mare Turf), which is at 1 1/8-miles on the grass.
To be run for the 77th time, the Test has been won over the years by such champions as Go For Wand, Lady's Secret, Ta Wee, Moccasin and Vagrancy. Test champions Very Subtle (1987) and Safely Kept (1989) went on to win the Breeders' Cup Sprint in 1987 and 1990, respectively. The expected favorite in this year's field should be the Bobby Frankel-trained You, winner of three Grade I stakes this year, including the Acorn Stakes her last time out. You, currently tied for third in the World Thoroughbred Rankings' Distaff Division, captured the Adirondack Stakes last summer at Saratoga.
The King George could offer a showdown between the top two horses in the World Thoroughbred Rankings' John Deere Turf Division, Godolphin Racing stablemates Sakhee and Grandera (IRE). Sakhee, ranked first in both the Turf and Classic Divisions, will start for the first time since being upset by yet another Godolphin runner, Street Cry (IRE), in the Dubai World Cup in March. Sakhee was second behind Tiznow in the 2001 Breeders' Cup Classic following a victory in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. Grandera won the Prince of Wales Stakes at Ascot in his last start in June. Aidan O'Brien, who trained last year's King George winner Galileo, is expected to saddle one or two horses in the race -- Bach and or Della Francesca.
The Diana will have its 64th running on Saturday. The champion filly Shuvee was a two-time Diana winner and Perfect Sting used the race as a stepping-stone to victory in the 2000 Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf. Last year, it was won by the Frankel-trained Starine (FR). Frankel will be back again this year with a pair of starters, Tates Creek and Beefeater Baby, but the favorites should be Voodoo Dancer, currently 10th in the World Thoroughbred Rankings' Filly & Mare Turf Division, and Babae.
Formerly known as the Maskette, Sunday's race was renamed for the great champion Go For Wand who won the event in 1990. Lady's Secret won the race in 1985 and 1986, and captured the Breeders' Cup Distaff after her second triumph. Trainer Shug McGaughey, a six-time Go For Wand winner, will saddle Atelier, an upset winner of the Molly Pitcher earlier this month, on Sunday. Other runners should include Forest Secrets, sixth in the World Rankings' Distaff Division, Miss Linda (ARG), Dancethruthedawn, Too Scarlet, Transcendental and With Ability.
Hosting the weekend telecasts will be Jeff Medders, joined by analyst Charlsie Cantey, reporter Jeannine Edwards and feature reporter Eleanor Mondale.
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