The final weekend before Saratoga and Del Mar open for the season always feels a little like the weekend before Christmas with so much anticipation and excitement and the days, hours and minutes dragging along at a snail’s pace. But before we wish our lives away there’s one more weekend of racing and time for another Saturday Special presented by Pin Oak Stud.

The Indiana Derby and Los Alamitos Derby take center stage this week as 3-year-olds try to take the next step toward more lucrative sophomore spots later this summer and fall. Songbird needs no introduction and makes her debut at owner Rick Porter’s home track in the Grade 1 Delaware Handicap while strong cards at Laurel Park and Belmont Park keep the action rolling.

Best of luck this weekend and remember, the first issue of The Saratoga Special hits the streets Friday, July 21. Not in Saratoga? No problem, download the digital edition. The Saturday Special will return in September. Enjoy the summer!

Newmarket. Race 1. 8:45 a.m. Fourteen juvenile fillies try to launch their careers in a captivating opener at the July meeting.

York. Race 1. 8:55. This is easy, box Abe Lincoln, General Macarthur and Chiefofchiefs in this competitive handicap. 

Ascot. Race 2. 9:10. There is nothing like a British handicap. Get the darts for the Heritage Handicap.

York. Race 2. 9:30. Barsanti chased Idaho at Royal Ascot, the 5-year-old looks strong in the John Smith’s Silver Cup Stakes.

Newmarket. Race 3. 9:50. Maths Prize busted us at Royal Ascot after he stuck his left hind leg on the ledge of the gate. Perhaps it goes smoother here and perhaps we can get our money back.

Chester. Race 3. 10:00. Kool Kompany and Jallota drop a few pegs from the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes, aiming at the listed City Plate Stakes.

York. Race 3. 10:05. Twenty-two line up in the John Smith’s Handicap, a 10-furlong, $246,000 rumble.

Newmarket. Race 4. 10:25. The Bunbury Cup, a 7-furlong heater, looks like a bowl of gazpacho, anything and everything in the mix.

Ascot. Race 5. 10:50. Hard-hitting Sovereign Debt, a 13-time winner, rides a three-race win streak into the Fred Cowley MBE Memorial Summer Mile Stakes. Mutakayyef won’t see Ribchester here.

Newmarket. Race 5. 11:00. Gustav Klimt travels from Ballydoyle for the Group 2 Superlative Stakes.

York. Race 5. 11:15. Judicial rides a three-race win streak into the John Smith’s City Walls Stakes.

Newmarket. Race 6. 11:36. Don’t burn your bridges. Paul Jacobs fired jockey Harry Bentley from the ride on crack sprinter Limato. He re-hires him for this, the Group 1 July Cup, that offers a rematch of The Tin Man, Tasleet and Limato from the Diamond Jubilee. The undefeated Caravaggio, ridden by Ryan Moore who rode Limato in the July Cup, does a cannonball into the pool.

The Curragh. Race 4. 11:50. Brother Bear won his first two, finished fourth at Royal Ascot, and now returns to his home soil for this Group 3.

The Curragh. Race 5. 12:20 p.m. Sir Mark Prescott doesn’t travel often, when he does, take note. He puts Marsha on the road for the Group 2 Sapphire Stakes.

The Curragh. Race 6. 12:55. Frankie Dettori returns for the ride on Enable in the Darley Irish Oaks. The John Gosden-trainee takes on stablemate Coronet and three Aidan O’Brien charges.

York. Race 3. 1:50. For all the gripes America receives for its breeding program, there sure are plenty of USA-breds racing around the world. Robin Weathers, Highway One, Island Of Life and Ristretto fly the red, white and blue in this tough maiden. 

Laurel Park. Race 3. 2:10. Maryland-bred 3-year-olds go 1 1/16 miles on the grass in $75,000 Caveat. Named for the 1983 Belmont Stakes winner and second of five straight Belmont winners for Woody Stephens, the Caveat looks like good spot for Bonus Points to get back on track.

Belmont Park. Race 3. 2:37. Catch a glimpse at some possible contenders for next month’s Funny Cide in the $100,000 Rockville Centre. Todd Pletcher sends out two in state-bred stakes, What A Catch and Analyze The Odds.

Delaware Park. Race 4. 2:48. Maiden for older fillies and mares on the grass and the gangs all here – Motion, Sheppard, Proctor, Stidham, Clement, Jones and Matz – with runners.

Laurel. Race 5. 3:10. Maryland-bred fillies take their turn in $75,000 Pearl Necklace going 1 1/16 miles on the grass. My Sistersledge makes first start since May 6 and first for trainer Mike Trombetta.

Ellis Park. Race 4. 3:14. One never knows who will show up at the Pea Patch – Grade 3 winner Covey Trace and stakes winners Simple Surprise and Marquee Miss among field of six in 5 1/2-furlong turf allowance.

Delaware. Race 5. 3:18. Wonder How found the water a bit deep in Tremont last month; back in the Mid-Atlantic and in 5-furlong allowance for John Salzman.

Monmouth Park. Race 6. 3:21. Afsaneh, a son of Scat Daddy who cost $350,000 as a weanling back in 2015, makes debut going 5 furlongs on the grass.

Ellis. Race 7. 3:40. We said it last week and the week before, it pays to watch the 2-year-old races at Ellis. Here’s a 6-furlong maiden with a field of eight.

Delaware. Race 6. 3:49. Adirondack King exits third in Grade 3 Salvator Mile and looks for first win in three starts at Delaware in $50,000 Carl Hanford Memorial.

Arlington Park. Race 4. 4:07. Seven 2-year-olds entered for 5-furlong maiden, all but one are first-timers, including Larry Rivelli’s Just Blaze, Wayne Catalano’s Im The Best I Know and Ignacio Correas’ Mind Trappe.

Delaware. Race 7. 4:21. The $50,000 Hockessin attracts field of eight, including two from David Jacobson in New York.

Laurel. Race 8. 4:40. Solid two-turn allowance on the grass lures Bealestreet Dancer and Tiz He The One from New York.

Delaware. Race 8. 4:55. Master Plan returned to the grass after several tries on the main track with victory in Stanton last month and looks to upend Frostmourne, winner of Grade 3 Penn Mile, in the Grade 3 Kent. It looks like the $200,000 stakes goes through those two, but Lunaire and Adonis Creed could argue otherwise. 

Woodbine. Race 8. 4:58. Conquest Vivi started career with three straight wins, then lost back-to-back starts when she turned 3. Daughter of Court Vision is back on synthetic for 7-furlong Duchess Stakes with blinkers on for Mark Casse.

Gulfstream Park. Race 9. 5:02. Field of nine 2-year-olds vie for $50,000 purse in 5 1/2-furlong maiden.

Belmont. Race 8. 5:18. Disco Partner ran more than lights out winning the Grade 3 Jaipur and stretches out to 1 mile for the $150,000 Forbidden Apple. The race also draws multiple Grade 1 winner Grand Arch, King Kreesa, Offering Plan, Get Jets and Mohaymen. And if it comes off there’s old faithful, Weekend Hideaway. Our team is hoping for a dry track; we’d prefer to see him early at Saratoga.

Monmouth. Race 10. 5:24. Majestic Bonnie needs to return to form that saw her win debut and finish third in P. G. Johnson last summer at Saratoga if she wants to compete with Lipstick City, Watch Your Six and Contributing in $75,000 Boiling Springs.

Los Alamitos Race Course. Race 2. 5:28. Countdown to Del Mar is on, but first 2-year-old maiden fillies dash 5 1/2. Bob Baffert sends out Midnight Lute firster Midnight Cute for owner-breeder Mike Pegram.

Delaware. Race 9. 5:30. One of American racing’s signature events for older females, the Grade 1 Delaware Handicap, attracts one of the best we’ve seen in decades in Songbird. The two-time champion looked great winning the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps last time against much better and she’ll be extremely tough in this 10-furlong test.

Gulfstream. Race 10. 5:34. Serious handicapping puzzle for featured $50,000 Treasure Coast Handicap going 1 mile on the grass. Good job by racing officer hustling 14 fillies and mares for this one.

Laurel. Race 10. 5:40. Rusty Arnold sends Morticia north from Keeneland for $100,000 Stormy Blues and she meets Deer Valley, Sylphide and Smiling Causeway going 5 1/2 on the grass.

Belmont. Race 9. 5:50. Collective Effort ran well in debut for Ray Handal and looks to graduate against eight other state-breds going 6 furlongs.

Indiana Grand. Race 1. 6:05. Big day and two-turn turf maiden to start the card in front of the crowd.

Arlington. Race 8. 6:16. Take a look at Dreamofjean E.’s record; Illinois-bred mare is mark of consistency and looks tough again in 1-mile allowance on the grass.

Belmont. Race 10. 6:22. Miss Freeze does something you don’t see everyday in this 7-furlong turf test – drops in class from stakes to allowance off a year layoff in second career start. Daughter of Frost Giant looks tough against older sophomores and older fillies and mares.

Indiana Grand. Race 3. 7:01. They love the government so much in Indiana – or at least at the track with gaming – that they named a stakes for the Indiana General Assembly.

Indiana Grand. Race 5. 7:57. Chocolate Ride isn’t too far removed from his days knocking off graded stakes in New Orleans. A race like this, the $100,000 Warrior Veterans, is aptly named for 7-year-old Candy Ride gelding.

Los Alamitos. Race 7. 7:58. West Coast kicked off monster day for Bob Baffert last month on Belmont Stakes Day; he takes another step up ladder in Grade 3 Los Alamitos Derby against the likes of Cistron, Kimbear and Klimt.

Indiana Grand. Race 6. 8:25. Big World, from winning the Grade 1 La Troienne to finishing fourth in the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis to facing eight others in the $100,000 Mari Hulman George. Maggi Moss and Tom Amoss don’t discriminate, they’re looking for another win in a six-figure stakes for the daughter of Custom For Carlos.

Indiana Grand. Race 7. 8:53. The $100,000 Michael G. Schaefer Memorial might – might – yield a starter or two for next month’s Whitney depending on the outcome. Fear The Cowboy, Eagle, Mo Tom, Money Flows, Bucchero and Western Reserve all within a chance.

Indiana Grand. Race 8. 9:21. Moptotism is heavy favorite for Grade 3 Indiana Oaks, off second in Grade 2 Summertime Oaks at Santa Anita last time for Doug O’Neill. Uncle Mo filly is winless going back to late February and is just 1-for-5 on the season, so perhaps vulnerable. So who’s the upsetter? How about Wicked Lick, or fellow Californian Majestic Quality, or Stonetacular?

Indiana Grand. Race 9. 9:49. Big field and good field for Grade 3 Indiana Derby, led by Blue Grass and Ohio Derby winner Irap, Pat Day Mile winner Wild Shot, Untrapped, Awesome Saturday and Watch Me Whip. And don’t forget Hollywood Handsome, who clipped heels and lost all chance going into the first turn of the Belmont. Good to see him back for Dallas Stewart.

Indiana Grand. Race 10. 10:17. Still going strong? Well done. Take a look at state-bred maiden fillies and mares going 6 furlongs in the nightcap.