Two Grade 1 stakes for juveniles, the Clasico del Caribe and Louisiana Champions Day highlight a busy day of racing previewed in this week’s edition of The Saturday Special.
The day starts as always overseas with jump racing at xxx and picks up in late morning with the start of the all-stakes card at Gulfstream Park led by the Clasico del Caribe. Champions Day at Fair Grounds and the Los Alamitos Cash Call Futurity and Starlet carry the bulk of the mid to late afternoon and everything should be wrapped up for a timely dinner on the East Coast.
Here’s your primer for Saturday, Dec. 8. Take care and good luck.
Navan. Race 1. 7:00 a.m. Nothing like a maiden hurdle in Ireland. You want full fields? Here you go, 30 make the stage here. Yes, 30.
Sandown. Race 1. 7:15. Captivating novice hurdle kicks off a star-studded card at one of Britain’s best racetracks. This is a hurdle but watch the railway fences in the chases, three of the most crucial jumps in the world.
Aintree. Race 4. 8:30. The Grade 3 Becher Chase attracts a gallant group of veterans including Don Poli, Blaklion, Ballyoptic and Vieux Lion Rouge.
Navan. Race 4. 8:35. Grade 3 novice chase named after the irrepressible Klairon Davis. Gigginstown goes with Hardline and Or Jaune De Somaza.
Sandown. Race 4. 8:50. The Grade 1 Henry VIII Novices’ Chase. As Miles says, “He was the guy who had all the wives. The King. With the beard. Elizabeth the 1st's father.” As for the race, Lalor wins and continues to be co-favorite with Kalashnikov for the Arkle. We didn’t ask Miles about Arkle.
Aintree. Race 5. 9:05. His name still melts the heart. The Many Clouds Chase salutes a legend and offers a sweet spot for the likes of Definitly Red and Double Shuffle.
Navan. Race 5. 9:10. Brothers where art thou? Chris’s Dream, a half-brother to American champion Scorpiancer, makes his chase debut.
Sandown. Race 5. 9:25. Apple’s Shakira faded at the end of the season this spring, she’s back in the December Handicap Hurdle.
Aintree. Race 6. 9:40. Want to know who beat Caldbeck in his debut in Ireland? Chica Buena, she’s won three in a row and takes on a solid group of fillies in this $34,000 stakes.
Sandown. Race 6. 10:00. The race of the day. The race of the year. Reigning champion Altior returns for the Tingle Creek, 2 miles of a sword fight on a beam of light. The 15-time winner takes on Saint Calvados, Sceau Royal and Un De Sceaux. There has never been a better four-horse race. The grand slam of 2-mile chasers have combined to win 55 races.
Aintree. Race 7. 10:15. Lucinda Russell, Grand National winning trainer, unleashes Voix D’Eau and Forest Des Aigles for the Grand Sefton Handicap Chase.
Gulfstream Park. Race 1. 11:50. All-stakes Clasico del Caribe (Caribbean Derby) starts with $75,000 House Party for 2-year-old fillies.
Gulfstream. Race 2. 12:18 p.m. Stay with the 2-year-old fillies for the $75,000 Hut Hut, this stakes at 1 mile.
Wolverhampton. Race 2. 12:45. American-bred Fields Of Athenry, a son of Candy Ride, was impressive in his debut over the same course and distance.
Gulfstream. Race 3. 12:46. Straight 2-year-olds go 6 furlongs in $75,000 Buffalo Man.
Gulfstream. Race 4. 1:16. Fourth stakes of the day is $75,000 Smooth Air for 2-year-olds stretching out to 1 mile.
Fair Grounds. Race 1. 1:30. Louisiana Champion Day starts with Grade 3 Champions Day Derby for Quarter Horses going 400 yards.
Wolverhampton. Race 4. 1:45. Charming Kid drops from three consecutive Grade 3 stakes attempts, the son of Charm Spirit should rebound here.
Gulfstream. Race 5. 1:46. Stakes action moves to the grass for $75,000 Pulpit.
Laurel Park. Race 4. 2:00. Scrap Copper tries to bolster credentials for Maryland-bred championship honors in $100,000 Maryland Juvenile Futurity. Son of Great Notion won James F. Lewis last time at 6 furlongs and stretches out another eighth in this spot against returning Tremont winner Our Braintrust.
Gulfstream. Race 6. 2:16. Field of 11 2-year-old fillies for $75,000 Wait A While.
Aqueduct. Race 5. 2:17. Vertical Oak looks like standout in $100,000 Garland of Roses in Big A debut, but don’t count out Dream Pauline and Yorkiepoo Princess in 6-furlong stakes.
Gulfstream. Race 7. 2:26. Chad Summers bid farewell to Mind Your Biscuits this month and sends out El Kurdo in $77,500 Invitational Cup Stakes going 10 furlongs on the main track.
Laurel. Race 5. 2:30. Females take their turn in Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship. Big field of 10 includes Belial, Nine Martinis, Questionoftheday, Abbo and No Mo Lady.
Gulfstream. Race 8. 3:16. Nine fillies and mares entered in $89,000 Lady Caribbean Cup.
Aqueduct. Race 7. 3:17. Weather looks clear and dry so perhaps 6-furlong allowance on the grass will stay. If so Glossy looks tough off close third in similar race at Belmont Oct. 3.
Fair Grounds. Race 5. 3:24. Midnight Fantasy blasted maidens in debut and looks like deserving favorite for $100,000 Champions Day Lassie.
Laurel. Race 7. 3:30. Lewisfield returns to Laurel, where he’s 5-for-8 with two seconds, for $75,000 Howard and Sondra Bender Memorial.
Gulfstream. Race 9. 3:46. As the day rolls along the purses rise; here’s the $105,800 Caribbean Cup Speed.
Aqueduct. Race 8. 3:47. Byself, the late Rick Violette’s final winner back in mid-October, makes jump from state-bred ranks to open company in first start for Michelle Nevin.
Gulfstream. Race 10. 4:16. Jala Jala, the winner of four straight and 12 of 22 lifetime, looks like the one for $100,000 Confraternity Caribbean Cup.
Fair Grounds. Race7. 4:24. The Champions Day Juvenile. Classy John, who broke maiden at Saratoga and finished second in optional at Churchill last time, should win.
Woodbine. Race 8. 4:38. The third-, fourth- and fifth-place finishers from the Grade 3 Grey – Sir Winston, Grimgrinnin’ Ghost and Inclusive – are among field of nine for $100,000 Display. Who remembers the old Display Handicap that used to be run in New York?
Gulfstream. Race 11. 4:50. The featured event, the $300,000 Clasico del Caribe. Kukulkan brings 13-for-13 record from Mexico for 9-furlong feature and picks up the services of Irad Ortiz Jr.
Fair Grounds. Race 8. 4:53. Even field of eight for Champions Day Turf.
Fair Grounds. Race 9. 5:22. The featured $150,000 Champions Day Classic.
Los Alamitos Race Course. Race 5. 5:28. No surprise, Bob Baffert sends out the top two contenders in the Grade 1 Cash Call Futurity in Improbable and Mucho Gusto. The former won 1-mile Street Sense Stakes Breeders’ Cup Week at Churchill Downs and the latter exits victory in Grade 1 Bob Hope at Del Mar in mid-November.
Fair Grounds. Race 10. 5:51. Viva Vegas brought $180,000 from Merriebelle Stable at Keeneland November sale. She makes return to restricted company and first start for Ignacio Correas in $100,000 Champions Day Ladies on the grass.
Fair Grounds. Race 11. 6:20. The stakes aren’t finished yet in New Orleans; here’s the $100,000 Champions Day Sprint. Monte Man rides seven-race win streak, dating back to Dec. 23, 2017.
Los Alamitos. Race 7. 6:28. Vibrance bids for Grade 1 victory in Starlet after second in Chandelier and third in Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies for Mike McCarthy. The final graded stakes of the season in the division goes through Baffert, who sends out Chasing Yesterday and Mother Mother.
Fair Grounds. Race 12. 6:49. We wrote about Minit To Stardom before her sixth in the Grade 1 Test – check it out on Page 18 of the Aug. 4 edition of The Saratoga Special. She makes her return in Champions Day Ladies Sprint, the final stakes on the card.