And we’re back. Just like that the seven weeks of Saratoga were here and gone and with it’s closing this week marks the return of The Saturday Special presented by Pin Oak Stud.
Just because Saratoga and Del Mar are closed for the season doesn’t mean there’s a shortage of quality action around the country. Quite the contrary with opening weekend at Belmont Park, a strong card at Kentucky Downs, the Super Derby at Louisiana Downs and a couple longtime 2-year-old fixtures at Arlington Park.
Racing is off for the weekend in South Florida and we keep our friends and colleagues in the area in our thoughts with Hurricane Irma bearing down. Be safe all.
Here’s our preview of the rest of the action for Saturday, Sept. 9. Good luck.
Woodbine. Race 1. 1:00. Start the afternoon here in North America with a strong allowance that attracts runners from Catherine Day Phillips (Fragrance), Mark Casse (Thora Barber), Roger Attfield (Miss Adele) and Norm McKnight (Sassy Ombre).
Belmont Park. Race 2. 2:01. Sprinting 2-year-olds get the chance to stretch out a bit on the grass – versus going 5 1/2 exclusively at Saratoga – in 6-furlong turf maiden.
Kentucky Downs. Race 1. 2:25. Most places call a $130,000 race going 1 mile on the grass for 2-year-olds a stakes. At Kentucky Downs it’s a maiden special weight.
Belmont. Race 4. 3:04. Separation time. It’s not quite fall but this is time of the year when the 2-year-olds who want to go long start to show themselves. Allured and Super Sermon look like two who will appreciate more ground and they get it in this 1-mile maiden.
Kentucky Downs. Race 3. 3:23. Full field of 12 for 1 5/16-mile allowance draws Perfect Partner for his turf debut and Richmond Street out of New York for Bill Mott.
Finger Lakes. Race 6. 3:35. Droselmeyr’s Smile impressed winning first out at Saratoga for owner-breeder Francis Paolangeli and trainer Charlton Baker. She’s one of seven in $116,550 Lady Fingers for New York-bred 2-year-old fillies, along with the Todd Pletcher-trained One Last Cat.
Delaware Park. Race 6. 3:45. Maiden for 2-year-old fillies going 7 1/2 furlongs draws the usual suspects from Fair Hill with Tom Proctor, Michael Matz, Graham Motion, Arnaud Delacour and Michael Stidham with at least one runner each in the field.
Finger Lakes. Race 7. 4:04. Looking Ready wasn’t quite that in his debut July 28 but improved enough to win Aug. 17 for Bruce Levine. Son of More Than Ready looks tough in $117,263 Aspirant Stakes for New York-bred 2-year-olds going 6 furlongs.
Delaware. Race 7. 4:15. Painter’s Rags found the water a bit deep at Saratoga but still managed good second in off-the-turf allowance last time. He’s 7-5 in this spot, a 1 1/16-mile allowance on the main track, for Graham Motion.
Belterra Park. Race 7. 4:44. Eight Ohio-bred 2-year-olds line up for $75,000 Loyalty Stakes. Tough to bet against Perry Ouzts at River Downs, err, Belterra. He rides the cleverly named Kettle Corn colt Funnel Cake for Maggi Moss and Tom Amoss.
Kentucky Downs. Race 5. 4:20. Another big purse and another big field. Allowance going 1 mile for $145,000 features field of 12 led by High Noon Rider, Flashy Chelsey, Mutazen, Zapperini and Royal Son.
Arlington Park. Race 6. 5:05. The inaugural $65,000 Avers Wexler Memorial. We found another race by the same name in 2006, but this one is a little extra special because it honors the late longtime owner on the circuit.
Woodbine. Race 8. 4:56. Sly Roxy broke her maiden in off-the-turf race at Saratoga then tried the Grade 2 Adirondack. Shipped to Woodbine in late August, daughter of Speightstown is one of two for Mark Casse in $100,000 Ontario Debutante along with first-timer Shamrock Rose. Honey Graeme also won first out at Saratoga and ships in for Rick Violette and owner Ralph Evans.
Laurel Park. Race 9. 5:10. Afleet Willy puts solid local record – five wins and four seconds in 11 starts – on the line in $75,000 Challedon Stakes.
Belmont. Race 8. 5:13. Field of six led by Far From Over, Securitiz and Conquest Windycity for $100,000 Seattle Slew, a restricted stakes going 1 1/8 miles on the main track.
Kentucky Downs. Race 7. 5:18. Multiple Grade 1 winner Miss Temple City stands out in Grade 3 Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf, a $350,000 race going 1 mile. She comes off third in Grade 3 Matchmaker and takes on field that includes Beverly D. ninth Zipessa, Linda and Beauly.
Monmouth Park. Race 10. 5:21. Ostrolenka finished second in back-to-back starts at Saratoga after winning at Monmouth June 25. He looks good in 6-furlong allowance.
Arlington. Race 7. 5:35. Despite losing its grade and a reduced purse of $75,000 the Arlington-Washington Futurity still draws a field of 10 2-year-olds. We wrote about Barry Lee this summer at Saratoga and he finished eighth in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special. Sagamore Farm’s and Stanley Hough’s son of Violence won’t meet anything like that in this 7-furlong heat.
Belmont. Race 9. 5:45. Stakes-quality allowance going 1 1/16 miles on the inner turf. Blacktype, Camelot Kitten and Changewilldoyagood exit stakes tries at Saratoga while Revved Up comes off a win at the Spa.
Kentucky Downs. Race 8. 5:46. Some of the best female turf sprinters in the game ship to Franklin for $350,000 Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint going 6 1/2 furlongs. Morticia takes on older foes for the first time off three straight wins that include nice score in Coronation Cup at Saratoga. Also in the field are veterans Mississippi Delta, Fair Point and Lull.
Arlington. Race 8. 6:05. The accompanying $75,000 Arlington-Washington Lassie draws an even larger group with 14 2-year-old fillies. Sagamore and Horacio DePaz look to win another with Southampton Way, a maiden winner Opening Day at Saratoga and second to Pure Silver in the Grade 2 Adirondack halfway through the meet.
Laurel Park. Race 11. 6:10. Summer House and True Romance exit 1-2 finish in Saratoga allowance-optional and look tough in $75,000 Shine Again. Momameamaria comes off fourth in Saratoga’s edition of the same race, giving her the chance for a unique past performance line.
Kentucky Downs. Race 9. 6:14. Bill Mott sends Commend, a winner going 5 1/2 on the grass in mid-August at Saratoga, south for Grade 3 Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint. Son of War Front takes on Bondurant, Undrafted ad Hogy in Grade 3 stakes going 6 1/2 furlongs.
Kentucky Downs. Race 10. 6:42. The featured Grade 3 Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup attracts the likes of American St. Leger winner Postulation, two-time 2017 Saratoga winner Muqtaser, graded stakes winner Oscar Nominated, Arlington Million fourth Enterprising, Grade 3 winner Taghleeb and Nessy. Motivational and Tobias, two of our favorites, need help to draw in off the also-eligible list.
Hastings Park. Race 8. 8:25. We don’t venture to Western Canada very often but the Grade 3 British Columbia Derby is worth a look. The first three from the Grade 3 Canadian Derby – Chief Know It All, Trooper John and Double Bear – are back along with Emerald Downs shipper More Power To Him and the first two from the Sir Winston Churchill Derby Trail Handicap in Hunters Appeal and A. P. Zona.