Anyone need the cure for those wintertime blues? Look no further than the Saturday Special presented by Pin Oak Stud as we preview the best races from racetracks across the country that are getting in the spirit of the season this President’s Day holiday weekend.
Tampa Bay Downs takes top billing and rolls out a star-studded card led by 2015 champion turf female Tepin and the $250,000 Sam F. Davis for 3-year-olds.
The Maryland Jockey Club gets in the spirit with the first day of the Laurel Park Winter Carnival, which features everything from a massive ice bar to drink special to a salty renewal of the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie.
Santa Anita Park keeps rolling along with its winter-spring meeting and serves up a pair of graded stakes on the grass. Gulfstream Park and Aqueduct feature interesting programs, too, so there’s a little something for everyone.
Here’s your primer for Saturday, February 13. Cheers.
Warwick. Race 1. 8:00 a.m. Have horse, will travel. Willie Mullins ventures to England with Open Eagle, second in a Grade 2 over the same course in January. Based in Ireland, Mullins is on cusp of being leading trainer in Britain. He takes a big crack at Warwick’s strong card.
Gowran Park. Race 2. 9:15. Smashing has been smashing thus far. He goes for his third straight here in the Red Mills Chase.
Newbury. Race 3. 9:25. Established chasers clash in the Denman Chase. Rocky Creek, Ballynagour, Houblon Des Obeaux, The Giant Bolster have seen better days but they’re still steady and stoic.
Warwick. Race 4. 9:40. L’Ami Serge aims to keep his undefeated chase record intact against just two rivals.
Newbury. Race 4. 10:00. Paul Nicholls has anointed Dodging Bullets as his best chance to win at Cheltenham. Here’s his prep.
Newbury. Race 5. 10:35. The Betfair Hurdle. Big purse. Deep field. Cool race.
Warwick. Race 6. 10:50. Taquin Du Seuil won the JLT Novice Chase at Cheltenham in 2014. He hasn’t won since. The 9-year-old makes his seasonal reappearance here.
Laurel Park. Race 4. 1:43 p.m. Lovable Lady is 2-2-3 in her seven career starts. Not For Love mare shoots for win No. 3 in 5 1/2-furlong allowance-optional.
Aqueduct. Race 3. 1:50. Six state-bred fillies and mares spring 6 furlongs in $100,000 Broadway. Willet still going strong as an 8-year-old while Tricky Zippy tries to turn the tables on that one and Court Dancer.
Gulfstream Park. Race 4. 2:00. Sandiva tries to emulate stablemate Mshawish and become graded stakes winner on dirt and turf in Grade 2 Royal Delta.
Tampa Bay Downs. Race 5. 2:15. No Kentucky Derby points on the line in Grade 3 Sam F. Davis but it’s still a $250,000 heat with plenty of implications. Todd Pletcher sends out a pair in Gettysburg and Destin, Mark Casse entered recent OBS Championship winner Whatawonderflworld and Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Graham Motion goes with Smooth Air winner Rafting.
Laurel. Race 6. 2:43. Mei Ling leads field for $75,000 Maryland Racing Media, fresh off back-to-back seconds in stakes in New York after trying Grade 1 company in Keeneland’s Spinster last fall. Joint Return packs plenty of back class, however.
Tampa Bay. Race 6. 2:45. Must be a grass race – Delacour, Proctor, Attfield, McGaughey, Sheppard, Kenneally, Clement. The gangs all here.
Aqueduct. Race 5. 2:50. Unstoppable U ran in Union Rags’ Belmont Stakes back in 2012, finishing sixth in just his third career start. He’s entered in this 1-mile claiming race for a $12,500 tag.
Gulfstream. Race 6. 2:58. Drop Shot ran very well in debut and stretches out to 7 furlongs against eight other 3-year-old maidens.
Laurel. Race 7. 3:13. Page McKenney, racing’s version of old faithful, makes start No. 43 seeking 16th career victory in $75,000 John B. Campbell. He’s also entered in Monday’s Grade 3 General George and trainer Mary Eppler said “nothing is set in stone” about either race. Kid Cruz, who came close to Page McKenney back on Thanksgiving Eve, tries to end nine-race skid.
Tampa Bay. Race 7. 3:15. Strong allowance-optional sprint for 3-year-olds draws field of 10, including the comebacking Outwork from Repole Stable and Todd Pletcher.
Aqueduct. Race 6. 3:20. Come on Huddie. Fleeting, claimed last time for $14,000, runs for $25,000 going 1 1/16 miles.
Laurel. Race 8. 3:43. Hot City Girl assumed top spot in Linda Rice barn after retirement of her half sister and champion La Verdad. New York-bred daughter of City Zip tries for first graded stakes victory in Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie against last year’s winner Lady Sabelia, Grade 1 winner Princess Violet and other proven fillies and mares Wonder Gal, Dancing House and Clothes Fall Off.
Tampa Bay. Race 8. 3:45. Champion and Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Tepin looks to get 5-year-old campaign off on the right foot in Grade 3 Lambholm South Endavour. She’s 7/5 on the morning line against the graded stakes-winning quartet of Partisan Politics, Lady Lara, Photo Call and Lexie Lou and others.
Oaklawn Park. Race 5. 4:08. Allowance-optional sprint has the look of stakes with Hebbronville, Bayerd, A M Milky Way, Wilbo and Subtle Indian in the mix.
Tampa Bay. Race 9. 4:15. Sophomore fillies take their turn in $100,000 Southcoast Stakes.
Aqueduct. Race 8. 4:20. First running of the $100,000 Haynesfield for state-breds draws Evan Shipman and Claiming Crown Classic winner Royal Posse, along with hard-knocking Saratoga Snacks and Good Luck Gus.
Santa Anita Park. Race 3. 4:30. Om will always be known as the one who beat American Pharoah in Triple Crown winner’s debut. Munnings colt is multiple graded stakes winner on the grass and looks to get 2016 campaign off on right note in Grade 2 Arcadia. Good to see Obviously back at age 8.
Tampa Bay. Race 10. 4:45. The Grade 3 Tampa Bay is typically a strong heat and this year is no exception. War Correspondent, Reload, Sky Captain, Old Time Hockey and A Lot among the dozen entered.
Oaklawn. Race 8. 5:38. Two-turn allowance for 3-year-olds is no easy 2016 starting spot for New York-bred stakes winner Get Jets.
Oaklawn. Race 9. 6:09. Midnight Hawk, second in last year’s Grade 3 Razorback, ships in from California for $100,000 Essex Handicap.
Santa Anita. Race 7. 6:30. Calculator won last year’s Grade 3 Sham Stakes and looked like a possible classics contender before an injury knocked him off the trail. Allowance-optional going 7 furlongs is no easy spot for his comeback.
Santa Anita. Race 8. 7:00. Nice field for Grade 2 Santa Maria with La Brea winner Birdatthewire, Living The Life, Yahilwa and Tara’s Tango in the mix.
Santa Anita. Race 9. 7:30. Stayed tuned in for maiden for 3-year-old fillies going 9 furlongs on the grass.
Turfway Park. Race 4. 7:42. Banree looks to get back on track in the $50,000 Cincinnati Trophy.
Charles Town Races. Race 3. 7:57. Stronach Stable’s Ivanka couldn’t get it done in two starts in Maryland. Hat Trick filly makes debut for Jose Corrales in 7-furlong maiden.
Charles Town. Race 6. 9:22. Scythe topped North Atlantic and Weekend Liberty for second straight win at 14-1. He’s 5/2 this time against that same entry in 6 1/2-furlong state-bred allowance.
Turfway. Race 8. 9:38. Quiet Score did just that when she broke her maiden New Year’s Eve at nearly 12-1 for Charlie LoPresti. Even The Score filly is back in allowance-optional going 1 mile.