04/02/2009 10:37PM

Early Timetable


No blinking allowed Saturday afternoon: There are five Grade 1 stakes at four different tracks in the same 52-minute window between 5:05 and 5:57 pm Eastern time:

I'll post some thoughts on the main events Friday evening and then live-blog the day from Aqueduct Saturday. In the meantime, a few odds and ends:

--The first grass races of the year in New York are scheduled for Friday at Aqueduct but it's supposed to start raining in the morning and continue most of the day. The 11th race Saturday, last leg of the Wood Memorial Day Pick-6, is also scheduled for the turf. Note that Saturday's pick-4, however, will start one race earlier than usual, an all-stakes $400k guaranteed sequence on the Bay Shore, Excelsior, Wood and Carter.

--When Tale of Ekati runs in the Carter Saturday, he will be trying to complete a sweep of what until this year were Aqueduct's only three Grade 1 races -- the Wood, Cigar Mile and Carter. This year, however, there's a fourth Grade 1 at Aqueduct, for which Tale of Ekati isn't eligible. Can you name it? (Answer below)

--Keeneland opens Friday with a 10-race card featuring the $150k G3 Transylvania Stakes for 3-year-olds on the grass. Stormalory and Florentino, 1-2 in a Feb. 5 Gulfstream N1x allowance, are the favorites in a field of eight, all of them seeking their first stakes victory.

--Answer to Aqueduct question: The Grade 1 Gazelle for 3-year-old fillies, formerly run at Belmont in September, has been moved to the Cigar Mile card at Aqueduct the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend this year.

--The Beyer Speed Figure for Quality Road's Florida Derby has been raised from a preliminary 103 to a 111, as Beyer explains here. Another problem with gauging the race was that it was the only two-turn race on the card, and there are days when some (though not all) figuremakers treat the sprints and routes differently. The same thing happened with last year's Travers, the only route that day. Fortunately, Saturday's two G1 Derby preps are on cards with other two-turn races.