Cracksman really whet the appetite for the 2018 International Flat Racing Season on Sunday with a win in the Prix Ganay, and there are some big International Horse Races to look forward to during in May.
They don’t come much bigger than the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks which are the first-legs of the USA Colts and Fillies Triple Crowns. There is also Group 1 action in Australia with the Robert Sangster Stakes, the Australasian Oaks, and the Doomben 10,000. May is also the time to enjoy the first of the French Classics with the French 1,000 and 2,000 Guineas. There’s then more USA Triple Crown action in the Preakness Stakes, whilst the Singapore Triple Crown starts with the Kranji Mile.
Kentucky Oaks (Friday 4 May)
The Kentucky Oaks is a Grade 1 Race for 3-year-old fillies and it is run over 9-furlongs (1,800 Metres) at Churchill Downs Racecourse, Kentucky, USA. The winner is presented with a wreath of Lillies known as the “Lillies for the Fillies” as well as a first-prize of $600,000. The race was first run in 1875, making it the joint-oldest horse to be run in consecutive years along with its male-counterpart the Kentucky Derby. It is also the first-leg of the Triple Tiara of Thoroughbred Racing, affectionately known as the Filly Triple Crown.
The second and third legs are the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes and the Acorn Stakes. The current favourite for the 2018 Kentucky Derby is Midnight Bisou, who is unbeaten in three runs in 2018, though has yet to race at Churchill Downs. Her nearest market rival is Monomoy Girl, who is unbeaten in five career starts including two wins at Churchill Downs. Both will be stepping up to the 9-furlongs trip for the first time having done most of their winning over a mile.
Kentucky Derby (Saturday 5 May)
The Kentucky Derby is also a Grade 1 Race but for three-year-old colts. However, it is run over a furlong further than the Kentucky Oaks, over a trip of 10-furlongs (2,000 Metres). The winner is presented with a garland of roses, and the race is often referred to as the “Run for the Roses”. It is also the first-leg of the Colts Triple Crown with the winner of the Kentucky Derby having to go on and win the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes to become the Triple Crown Winner. American Pharoah became the first horse in 37 years to win the Triple Crown in 2015.
The favourite is Justify who has won all of his three races in 2018 at odds-on and is trained by Bob Baffert. He’s usually a slow-starter and it will be interesting to see if he breaks better on the big-night. He may need to if second-favourite Mendelsshon adopts the front-running tactics that saw him run his rivals into the ground in Meydan earlier this season, and Irish legend Aidan O’Brien may be out to break his record haul of Group/Grade 1 races 2018. However, as both horses are by the same sire, a win for either would be a feather in the cap of Scat Daddy.
Robert Sangster Stakes (Saturday 5 May)
The Robert Sangster Stakes is an Australian Group 1 Race run at Morphettville Racecourse in Adelaide over a trip of 1,200 Metres. It is open to fillies and mares who are aged three and older and was first run in 1983. Its most winner is Black Caviar who won the 2012 edition. The six-year-old Viddora has been installed as the ante-post favourite and she will be looking to improve on her already impressive record of eight wins in 25 races. She could have most to fear from the three-year-old Catchy who, though she has yet to win at Grade 1 Level, impressed when winning the Grade 2 Arrowfield last time.
Australasian Oaks (Saturday 5 May)
Also known as the Schweppes Oaks, the Australasian Oaks is a Grade 1 Race run over 10-furlongs (2,000 Metres) at Morphettville Racecourse. It was first run in 1982, when it was won by the wonderful filly Rose of Kingdom who went onto enjoy 10 career wins, three of which were at Group 1 level. The market for the 2018 Australasian Oaks is headed by Savacool who won her last start at Caulfield. Sopressa could be a big danger though after winning her last start over 1,800 Metres at Morphettville, looking like she’d appreciate the extra 200 Metres of this race even more.
Doomben 10,000 (Saturday 12 May)
The Doomben 10,000 is a 6-furlongs sprint (1,200 Metres) that takes place at Doomben Racecourse in Brisbane. It takes its name from the original first prize of $10,000 that was awarded to the inaugural winner Wallen in 1933. The prize purse in now $700,000. Famous winners include Bernborough, Baguette, Manikato, Takeover Target, and Apache Cat. The ante-post favourite Redzel will be aiming to follow in the footsteps of the latter of that quintet by winning the race in consecutive years. He must have a favourite’s chance, too, after only finding Trapeze Artist too good at Royal Randwick last time.
Poule d’Essai des Poulains (Sunday 13 May)
Also referred to as the French 2,000 Guineas, the Poule d’Essai des Poulains is a Group 1 race that takes place over 1 Mile at Longchamp. It is also the first of the French Classics for three-year-olds, and it was first run in 1840. Two of its most famous winners are Kingmambo and Daylami, and the ante-post favourite for the 2018 Poule D’Essai des Poulains is Wootoon, who is a son of Wooton Bassett who also won a Group 1 at Longchamp for English Trainer Richard Fahey.
Poule d’Essai des Pouliches (Sunday 13 May)
Also referred to as the French 1,000 Guineas, the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches is a Group 1 Race for three-year-old fillies. It is the second of the French Classic, but the first that is restricted to fillies. It was first run in 1883 and has been won by top-class fillies like Miesque and Zarkava. The favourite for the 2018 Poule d’Essai des Pouliches is Polydream who is trained by Freddie Head.
The Preakness Stakes (Saturday 19 May)
The Preakness Stakes is Grade 1 Racer un over 9½ furlongs at Pimlico Racecourse in Maryland, USA. It is run on dirt and is the second-leg of The Triple Crown. It was first run in 1873, and the 2018 ante-post favourite is Justify for Bob Baffert who has trained six winners of the race since 1997. Audible is an interesting opponent though after he won impressively at Gulfstream last time, whilst Mendelsshon may well be aimed at the race if successful in the Kentucky Derby.
Kranji Mile (Saturday 26 May)
You can also watch the first-leg of the Singapore Triple Crown, with the Kranji Mile run over 1 Mile (1,600 Metres) at Kranji Racecourse. Unlike many horseracing Triple Crowns, this race is open to horses aged three and older. It is a relatively new edition to the world’s Group 1 Races as it was only introduced to the calendar in 2000. The second and third legs of the Singapore Triple Crown are the Raffles Cup and the Singapore Gold Cup. Admire Lead and Beauty Generation are disputing ante-post favouritism.
Elitloppet (Sunday 27 May)
However, if you fancy something completely different, how about a bet on one of the world’s leading trotting races. The Elitloppet, which means the elite race in Swedish, takes place at the Solvalla Racetrack in Stockholm, Sweden, and attracts the world’s leading trotting champions and their riders. That’s hardly surprising considering the prize money is 6,400,000SEK, or about £650,000. Bold Eagle, Propulsion, and Readly Express are amongst the ante-post market leaders.