One last Saturday and one final edition of The Saturday Special presented by Pin Oak Stud to send 2017 off in style.
The opener to New Year’s Eve weekend features stakes-filled cards at Santa Anita Park – which hosts the lone graded races of the day – Gulfstream Park and Laurel Park along with strong programs at Aqueduct, Fair Grounds, Tampa Bay and Turf Paradise.
The deep freeze set in over large portions of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic this week so hopefully most of the action in those parts of the country go off without a hitch. And we also want to wish everyone a safe and enjoyable New Year. Take care and good luck.
Aqueduct. Race 1. 12:20 p.m. One of the last chances for fillies to break their maidens as a 2-year-old is 1-mile event on the main track. The Juddmonte homebred Tapit filly Hail is even-money on the line off a third in her debut last month for Bill Mott.
Aqueduct. Race 3. 1:20. Classy Class and Vulcan’s Forge stand out in field of five for 1-mile allowance-optional.
Laurel Park. Race 4. 1:30. A Different Style tries to close out 2017 with three straight wins in $100,000 Heft going 7 furlongs.
Fair Grounds. Race 1. 2:00. Sugar Bowl weekend in New Orleans and state-bred 2-year-old fillies go 5 1/2 furlongs on the grass to open 11-race card.
Laurel. Race 5. 2:00. Maryland-bred fillies and mares line up for $75,000 Politely going 6 furlongs.
Gulfstream Pak. Race 5. 2:05. Always one of our favorites, the H. Allen Jerkens going 2 miles on the grass. Bullards Alley blasted the field in Grade 1 Canadian International to earn a trip to Del Mar for the Breeders’ Cup Turf, where he finished a respectable sixth. He stretches out an additional half mile and takes on decent group that includes Infinite Wisdom, Infobedad and Gold Shield in $100,000 stakes.
Laurel. Race 6. 2:30. Plenty of familiar names and faces for $75,000 Jennings. John Jones looks to get back to form of last year in season finale off back-to-back bad losses, while Bridget’s Big Luvy, Rockinn On Bye, Southside Warrior and Final Prospect all deserve respect in 1-mile event for state-breds.
Tampa Bay Downs. Race 6. 2:55. Smiling Causeway returns off two months’ rest for $100,000 Lightning City going 5 furlongs on the grass. Daughter of Giant’s Causeway impressed going 5 1/2 on the turf at Keeneland last time out for Arnaud Delacour.
Laurel. Race 7. 3:00. Everyone is jumping in the pool for $100,000 Gin Talking for 2-year-old fillies. Limited View looks for fourth straight win after taking Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship and Maryland Million Lassie in her last two.
Gulfstream. Race 7. 3:05. One last chance for straight 3-year-old fillies to get some more black type in $75,000 Tropical Park Oaks. No shortage of entries either, with 13 in the field for the first division.
Santa Anita Park. Race 1. 3:30. Maiden 2-year-old fillies go 6 1/2 furlongs down the hill in the opener.
Laurel. Race 8. 3:30. Another handicapping puzzle with a field of 13 as the stakes keep coming in Maryland. Here’s the $100,000 Thirty Eight Go Go for fillies and mares at 1 mile.
Aqueduct. Race 8. 3:50. Sea Foam bids for third straight win – and second stakes score – in $100,000 Damon Runyon for state-bred 2-year-olds. Evaluator, Analyze The Odds and Battle Station are all stakes winners and look to close out the year with another.
Tampa Bay. Race 8. 3:55. Pay Any Price is 5-for-7 on the year and comes off back-to-back stakes wins heading into $100,000 Turf Dash.
Santa Anita. Race 2. 4:00. Restoring Hope, finished second by a nose in debut going 6 furlongs at Los Al, stretches out two 1 1/16 miles for Bob Baffert. Peace exits back-to-back seconds for Richard Mandella.
Laurel. Race 9. 4:00. Very interesting collection as 14 go in $100,000 Dave’s Friend. Recruiting Ready rolled to three straight, including the Bachelor at Oaklawn and Chick Lang at Pimlico, before finishing third and going to the sidelines after the Grade 2 Woody Stephens. He starts over here for Sagamore Farm and Horacio DePaz.
Gulfstream. Race 9. 4:06. Second division of the $75,000 Tropical Park Oaks.
Fair Grounds. Race 6. 4:35. Full field of 14 3-year-old fillies – and two on the also-eligible list – for $75,000 Pago Hop going 1 mile on the grass.
Gulfstream. Race 10. 4:37. Older fillies and mares take their turn in $75,000 Via Borghese. Beauly came close last time in Grade 1 Flower Bowl and should appreciate slight cuback to 1 3/16 miles.
Santa Anita. Race 4. 5:00. The Grade 3 Robert J. Frankel is first of three graded stakes on the card. Field of six fillies and mares entered, including East Coast shippers Elysea’s World and Penjade for trainer Chad Brown.
Gulfstream. Race 11. 5:08. The first three from the Gio Ponti Stakes – Small Bear, Funtastic and Secretary At War – are back for $75,000 Tropical Park Derby along with Mr Cub and Profiteer.
Turf Paradise. Race 6. 5:10. A little bit of everything for $30,000 Lost In The Fog Juvenile, including 2-year-olds bred in Ontario, Arizona, Kentucky, Virginia and California.
Fair Grounds. Race 8. 5:35. Graded stakes competitors Cowboy Culture, Uncontested, It’s Your Nickel and Kitten’s Cat are among the 14 entered for the $75,000 Woodchopper Stakes at 1 mile on the turf.
Turf Paradise. Race 7. 5:40. Myrcella, Foggia,City Spirit and Shesaheatwave – the first four in the Arizona Breeders’ Futurity – meet again in $30,000 Arizona Juvenile Fillies.
Santa Anita. Race 7. 6:30. The final Grade 1 of 2017 is the $300,000 American Oaks. Chad Brown sends New Money Honey and Rymska to the West Coast looking for one more major prize. Ken McPeek does the same with Daddys Lil Darling. The local contingent took their lumps at Del Mar and looks to upend the Eastern invasion led by Madam Dancealot and Beau Recall.
Santa Anita. Race 8. 7:00. The connections of Masochistic look to add another chapter in Grade 3 Midnight Lute. Transferred to Bob Baffert following the suspension of Ron Ellis, 7-year-old gelding is winless since 2016 Pat O’Brien at Del Mar and meets the likes of Americanize, Calculator and Silent Bird in 6 1/2-furlong stakes.