Raise your hand if you’re feeling a little bit of a hangover from another memorable Triple Crown. Fortunately there’s plenty of action on track this weekend to cure what ails and we preview the action here in The Saturday Special presented by Pin Oak Stud.
Churchill Downs is back in the center of the stage with a stacked Stephen Foster Day card that will include a public parade of newly minted Triple Crown winner Justify. The Downs After Dark program is “Art of the Horse” theme and who better to showcase such a concept than the muscled chestnut son of Scat Daddy. He’s scheduled to appear sometime between 6:45-7:15 p.m.
The Stephen Foster is the lone Grade 1 of the weekend and one of five graded stakes Saturday at Churchill. Elsewhere it’s fairly quiet, with the Grade 2 Summertime Oaks at Santa Anita Park and small stakes Arlington, Belmont, Delaware, Gulfstream and Woodbine.
Here’s your primer for Saturday, June 16. Enjoy and good luck.
York. Race 1. 8:50. Hard-hitting hurdler Venue returns from a long break in the Queen Mother’s Cup, a handicap for lady amateur riders. Where’s Bethany?
Sandown. Race 1. 9:05. A bit of a lull before Royal Ascot but Sandown offers the best racing in Britain, opening with the Scurry Stakes, a listed stakes for 3-year-olds ripping 5 furlongs. Sound And Silence chased Declarationofpeace at Del Mar last year.
York. Race 3. 10:00. The Sky Bet Grand Cup, a listed stakes sends them 1 ¾ miles. Weekender, a son of Frankel, should win.
Sandown. Race 3. 10:15. Veteran Lacan aims for his eighth career win, taking on 10 rivals in this handicap.
York. Race 4. 10:35. Twenty line up for a big purse of $135,000 in the Pavers Foundation Catherine Memorial Sprint Handicap.
Monmouth Park. Race 1. 12:50. Sports betting is underway at the Jersey Shore, just in time for the World Cup, and this state-bred maiden claimer starts the 13-race card.
Belmont Park. Race 1. 1:30. One more time with feeling. What a difference a week makes. The opener is $12,500 claimer going 1 mile on the main track.
Gulfstream Park. Race 4. 2:15. Awesome Friday, who dropped the rider behind the gate in debut and managed distant third, makes second start against seven other Florida-bred 2-year-old fillies in 5-furlong maiden.
Gulfstream. Race 5. 2:47. The $100,000 Ginger Punch, named for 2007 champion older female and Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner, is 1 1/16-mile stakes on the grass. Ginger Punch never ran on the turf, ah well.
Woodbine. Race 5. 3:20. Syllable ran well in debut, finishing second at 4-5 for Mark Casse, and 2-year-old daughter of Super Saver makes second start going 4 1/2 furlongs against eight others in this spot.
Belmont. Race 5. 3:41. Would have took bets Honey Dont would not still be in the maiden ranks after strong debut at Saratoga back in August. Well, son of Soldat is still a maiden and looks to shed that status in 1 1/16-mile turf test in his fifth start.
Arlington Park. Race 4. 4:00. Illinois-bred 3-year-olds stretch 1 mile in the $75,000 Springfield. Pass The Gravy won two state-bred stakes to end juvenile campaign and makes 2018 debut for Larry Rivelli in field of six.
Delaware Park. Race 7. 4:15. The $100,000 Obeah, a local prep for the Delaware Handicap, attracts Fuhriously Kissed (entered later in the Fleur de Lis at Churchill), Tequilita, Teresa Z and Power Of Snunner.
Gulfstream. Race 8. 4:23. Nine Florida-bred 2-year-olds entered in this 5-furlong maiden, including Goldenlineof, who makes start No. 5 since April 27. Yes, five.
Santa Anita. Race 3. 4:30. Blame The Rider tries to make it three straight in $100,000 Rainbow against Arawak and River Boyne, fourth and fifth, respectively, in boggy Grade 2 American Derby last time out at Churchill.
Woodbine. Race 8. 4:57. Mr Havercamp, who we wrote about last summer before the Grade 3 Saranac, set for 4-year-old debut in $100,000 Steady Growth going two turns on the synthetic.
Woodbine. Race 9. 5:30. Keep Quiet, a graded stakes winner at 2 on the grass, moves to synthetic for 1 1/16-mile optional.
Arlington. Race 7. 5:36. State-bred 3-year-old fillies take their turn in $75,000 Purple Violet. Jean Elizabeth is 4-for-4 but she’ll face a test from Hayworth, Bramble Queen and Royal’s Position in her first start past 6 furlongs.
Laurel. Race 10. 5:40. Phil Schoenthal runs Fly back on 11 days rest after seventh in Belmont optional. Son of Brilliant Speed is 2-for-4 on the grass at Laurel, including victory April 29 at this 5 1/2-furlong trip.
Belmont. Race 9. 5:50. Holiday Disguise looks tough against the comebacking Absatootly in $125,000 Dancin Renee for state-bred fillies and mares.
Churchill Downs. Race 1. 6:00. Two-turn optional with a field of five to start the Stephen Foster card.
Santa Anita. Race 6. 6:00. Tom Amoss sends Chocolate Martini from Kentucky for Grade 2 Summertime Oaks. Fifth in the Kentucky Oaks last time, she won the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks and is the lone stakes winner in the field of six.
Laurel. Race 11. 6:10. Limited View, 5-for-8 at Laurel, takes on New York shippers Elevenses and Split Time and the comebacking Caught Dream’n in $75,000 Alma North going 7 furlongs.
Churchill. Race 2. 6:28. Somehow Girls Know Best, winner of The Very One at Pimlico and another stakes this winter at Gulfstream, fits condition for 5 1/2-furlong allowance on the grass for fillies and mares.
Churchill. Race 5. 7:57. The Grade 3 Matt Winn goes through Ax Man, easy winner of his last two since switching from sprints to two turns. A stablemate of Justify, son of Misremembered rolled in the Sir Barton four weeks ago at Pimlico and takes on Combatant, Pat Day Mile winner Funny Duck, Tiz Mischief and King Zachary.
Churchill. Race 6. 8:30. Champion and Breeders’ Cup Mile winner World Approval, scratched out of the Dixie four weeks ago when it came off the grass, headlines Grade 2 Wise Dan that also includes Divisidero, Shining Copper and Inspector Lynley.
Churchill. Race 7. 9:05. The Grade 2 Fleur de Lis Handicap looks like a re-run of the Grade 3 Allaire du Pont Distaff the day before the Preakness with Song Of Spring, Blue Prize and Fuhriously Kissed back for another go. Valadorna will have a say about that, off win over some of these last time in Grade 3 Doubledogdare at Keeneland. And don’t count out Farrell and Apologynotaccepted.
Churchill. Race 8. 9:39. The featured Grade 1 Stephen Foster appears to be showdown between Backyard Heaven, winner of the Grade 2 Alysheba; and Irish War Cry, winner of the Grade 3 Pimlico Special. Several other capable understudies in here, with Uncle Mojo, Pavel, Lookin At Lee, Honorable Duty and Patch in the mix.
Churchill. Race 9. 10:11. Big field of 13 3-year-old fillies for the Grade 3 Regret. Pick the winner in here and you figure to be rewarded.