This weekend at Belmont Park may not have the anticipation of last year without a Triple Crown contender, but a great weekend of horse racing is still on tap. One of Saturday’s “undercard” races is the first leg of the “Triple Tiara”, the unofficial Filly Triple Crown. The Acorn Stakes, the Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga, and the Alabama Stakes at Saratoga are the three races in New York state that make up the Triple Tiara.
This race, like the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs and the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes at Pimlico Race Course, features nothing but female horses and will be run on Saturday afternoon at a length of one mile. This is the shortest of the Triple Tiara races, with the other two measuring 1.25 miles.
The first Acorn Stakes took place all the way back in 1931 when Baba Kenney was the winner. The 86th running of this race will feature a $700,000 purse and is a Grade I stakes race. The Triple Tiara was reconfigured by horse racing officials back in 2010 and no filly has been able to claim that distinction. In fact, under any format, no horse has won the Triple Tiara since 1993 when Sky Beauty did it. The only horse to have a clean sweep in the Acorn Stakes, the Mother Goose Stakes, formerly part of the Triple Tiara, the Coaching Club American Oaks, the Kentucky Oaks, and the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes was Davona Dale in 1979.
There are only six horses taking part in the Acorn Stakes, but it is still a very interesting race. Here are the contenders for this year’s Grade I three-year-old filly race:
|1||Forever Darling||Ortiz Jr.||Baltas||20/1|
|2||Off the Tracks||Velazquez||Pletcher||5/1|
|6||Go Maggie Go||Saez||Romans||3/1|
Kentucky Oaks champion Cathryn Sophia has been green-lighted to come back and run in the Acorn Stakes. Cathryn Sophia was a little bit of a late addition to the Kentucky Oaks after Songbird was scratched with a fever. It was a pretty dominant performance for Cathryn Sophia, who closed the second favorite behind Rachel’s Valentina. With that win in the Kentucky Oaks, she has been installed as the overwhelming favorite for Saturday afternoon’s race.
Go Maggie Go is giving it a go in this weekend’s Acorn Stakes. Three weeks ago, she was triumphant in the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes at Pimlico. She finished fourth at the Kentucky Oaks, but used the quick turnaround to her advantage. Go Maggie Go and Land Over Sea were the only two horses to return two weeks after running in the Kentucky Oaks. Land Over Sea actually closed the small favorite in the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes, but she finished sixth. Land Over Sea will run in the Acorn Stakes, leaving Go Maggie Go as the second favorite with odds of 3/1.
Carina Mia has gotten a lot of attention in the lead-up to the race. She’s the third favorite at 4/1. She’s won each of her last two Grade II stakes races with wins at Churchill Downs on May 6 in the Eight Belles and also the Golden Rod in November. She was fourth in the Ashland Stakes at Keeneland on April 9. She has the ability to run with the Grade I fillies, but it’s fair to wonder about her chances against horses that have proven themselves in the Kentucky Oaks and the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes.
Off the Tracks is one of the offspring of Curlin, who sired Curalina, who won this race last year. That was a winning combination for the John Velazquez/Todd Pletcher team, which is exactly what people are looking for from Off the Tracks. She hasn’t done a lot of running with the Grade I fillies, though she did run right win Go Maggie Go and Paola Queen on April 2 at Gulfstream in the Gulfstream Park Oaks. Prior to that show finish, she had won three straight races. Adding an odd wrinkle to this race, Off the Tracks is running in the six-furlong Jersey Girl race on Friday at Belmont Park prior to Saturday’s Acorn Stakes.
Paola Queen ran in the Kentucky Oaks and finished ninth. She has a different jockey this time, with Jose Ortiz as the rider instead of Emisael Jaramillo. It will be the fourth straight race with a different rider for Paola Queen, so we’ll have to see what, if any, impact that has on her chances of winning. Obviously her chances of winning aren’t that great anyway, with a morning line of 15/1 after posts were announced.
Post time is 12:39 p.m. ET at Belmont Park for the Acorn Stakes, one of several undercard races scheduled prior to the Belmont Stakes, the last leg of the Triple Crown.