A week out from the Belmont Stakes, a week removed from the end of the spring steeplechase season at Fair Hill and another busy Saturday of racing on tap from around the world.
All eyes on Europe to start the day and we’re not even talking about the all-Premier League Champions League final between Liverpool and Tottenham that kicks at 3 p.m. EDT. The Investec Epsom Derby takes top billing overseas – probably worldwide for that matter – with a field of 13 led by seven from Aidan O’Brien’s Ballydoyle yard. Yes, seven.
O’Brien sends out the probable two favorites in Sir Dragonet and Broome, while last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner Line Of Duty goes out for Godolphin and Charlie Appleby at a likely big price.
Switching gears back to North America and before you hear the chords from “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from Gerry and The Pacemakers, there is plenty of action from Belmont to Santa Anita, Arlington to Woodbine and Churchill Downs to Penn National. Eight stakes are on tap at Penn National, including the $500,000 Grade 2 Penn Mile and $200,000 Penn Oaks.
Time to pad the bankroll for next week’s Belmont Stakes Racing Festival, including the monster Saturday card that features eight Grade 1s.
Here’s your primer for Saturday, June 1. Good luck.
Musselburgh. Race 1. 8:40 a.m. You don’t see many sons of Dialed In competing in Europe, but here’s one. And he can run. Strive for Glory is 4-5 in the opener.
Doncaster. Race 2. 8:55. Godolphin unveils Saqqara King, a son of American Pharoah and Grade 1 winner Joyful Victory.
Epsom. Race 1. 9:00. Nayef Road drops from a Group 2 at York into the handicap opener on a stellar card.
Epsom. Race 2. 9:35. We’ve loved Nyaleti since she was 2. The daughter of Arch, third in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland in October, takes on seven foes in the Princess Elizabeth Stakes.
Hexham. Race 3. 9:40. Three-year-old hurdlers begin their careers. It’s June! Alan King usually makes his mark early, Green Etoile looks like the right model.
Doncaster. Race 4. 10:05. Summer Moon and Emirates Empire seek their third straight wins in this $77,000 handicap.
Epsom. Race 3. 10:10. Zaaki, a son of Leroidesanimaux, looks primed for Ryan Moore and Sir Michael Stoute in the Investec Diomed Stakes. Bye Bye Hong Kong aims for his third straight win for Andrew Balding.
Epsom. Race 4. 10:45. The Investec Dash attracts another eclectic group of sprinters. Ten-year-old Caspian Prince aims for his 20th win, 5-year-old Hathiq seeks his third straight and Daschas gets 28 pounds from Caspian Prince.
Musselburgh. Race 5. 11:00. Indian Blessing placed three times in America last year, the daughter of Sepoy finished eighth in her 2019 bow and looks to get back to winning ways in the Stobo Castle Ladies’ Day Gold Cup.
Worcester. Race 5. 11:05. Hey Richard, how’s Worcester? Solighoster tries to bounce back for the Colony Stable and Dajam in this handicap hurdle.
Epsom. Race 5. 11:30. The Group 1 Investec Derby. Aidan O’Brien unleashes seven of the 13 runners. Ryan Moore opts for undefeated Sir Dragonet. We’ll root for Telecaster for Hughie Morrison.
Epsom. Race 6. 12:15 p.m. Sextant should win this competitive handicap for The Queen.
Epsom. Race 7. 12:50. Enjoy the finale.
Laurel Park. Race 1. 1:10. Racing returned Friday and the first Saturday card of the spring-summer meeting opens with 1-mile starter allowance.
Finger Lakes. Race 1. 1:10. Tammany Giant, winless in 21 starts on the NYRA circuit, heads to Western New York in search of that breakthrough score in 6-furlong maiden.
Monmouth Park. Race 2. 1:20. Five 2-year-old fillies for 4 1/2-furlong maiden. Sweet Melania finished distant third in quick 5-furlong maiden at Belmont at a short price and draws the rail, while Jason Servis (Queen Of Shades) and Jeremiah Englehart (Good Shabbos) send out runners.
Belmont Park. Race 1. 1:30. Back in 2016 when we produced the multi-part series Saratoga Yearling Diary we wrote about Lonhtwist, a son of Lonhro out of the Lemon Drop Kid mare Kiss With A Twist, and our late friend Bill Graves. He’s run six times and goes out again for Leo O’Brien in 6-furlong turf maiden.
Finger Lakes. Race 2. 1:37. Risky Analysis looks to shed string of seconds (three) in 5 1/2-furlong allowance.
Belmont. Race 2. 2:02. Six entered for 9-furlong turf optional, including first-out maiden winners Café Americano, Pep and Passing Out. Pep is only one of those three with starts since the maiden score, including good third in Churchill allowance during Kentucky Derby Week.
Woodbine. Race 3. 2:12. Last week we wrote “Pink Lloyd, Canadian Horse of the Year in 2017 and winner of three other Sovereign Awards, won his 2019 debut and should make it two straight in $125,000 Greenwood Stakes.” Weather canceled the final two races last Saturday so the Greenwood returns this week. Ditto on Pink Lloyd.
Lingfield. Race 4. 2:15. Bated Breath has begun to make his mark, his son, Biometric, puts his undefeated record on the line for Ralph Beckett and Juddmonte.
Gulfstream Park. Race 4. 2:17. Garter And Tie finished second in back-to-back stakes starts after trying the heavy heads this winter and spring. He looks tough in $75,000 Ocala at 6 1/2 furlongs. Gladiator King and Seismic Jolt won’t make it easy though.
Monmouth. Race 5. 2:42. Tough to crack this two-turn maiden for 3-year-olds and up with a pair from Chad Brown (Fullness Of Time and Hizaam) and a pair from Todd Pletcher (Final Say and Ranger Up).
Penn National Race Course. Race 1. 2:45. Big day starts small, $7,500 maiden claimer opens the card.
Finger Lakes. Race 5. 2:58. Mission Statement didn’t make much noise as the favorite last time at Belmont but should appreciate change of scenery in 6-furlong maiden for Jeremiah Englehart.
Belmont. Race 4. 3:08. Highest Honors just missed in debut as favorite at Keeneland April 20. Son of Tapit stretches out to 1 1/16 miles and faces five foes on what should be graduation day.
Thistledown. Race 7. 3:20. Proper Discretion, 0-for-3 at Gulfstream Park and Oaklawn Park this winter, returns to where she does her best work, the 14-time winner breaks from the rail in the Michael G. Mackey Memorial Angenora. A longtime racing executive at Thistledown, Hialeah, Tampa Bay Downs and Detroit Race Course, Mackey died in 2012.
Belterra Park. Race 8. 4:05. Turf sprint, will travel. Such is the mantra for Wesley Ward’s string, not that Cincinnati is such a long trip from Lexington. Ward sends out Gins And Tins from the rail in $16,900 allowance going 5 furlongs on the grass. Son of Scat Daddy shows races at Belmont, Monmouth, Saratoga, Fair Grounds and Churchill on his form.
Penn National. Race 4. 4:06. The $100,000 New Start for Pa-breds opens the stakes action. Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas ships Ultimate Mo, winner of an optional claimer last time on sloppy track at Churchill, in to meet stakes winner Ujjaya, Gotta Be Strong and Tara’s Talent.
Penn National. Race 5. 4:34. The $100,000 Danzig, similar conditions to prior stakes, looks like perfect spot for multiple graded stakes winner Call Paul to get back on track. He’s never been worse than third in eight starts and comes off back-to-back defeats in stakes in New York.
Laurel. Race 8. 4:40. Utmost, winner of the Grade 2 Sky Classic and ninth in the Grade 1 Northern Dancer last summer at Woodbine, makes 2019 debut in 1 1/16-mile optional on the grass.
Monmouth. Race 9. 4:47. Standard Deviation landed on some Derby contender lists after Grade 1 placing at 2 and distant troubled run in Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He didn’t make the classics and heads to the grass for the first time in $75,000 Tale Of The Cat. Good group also includes Empire Of War, Solidify, Cambre and Swamp Rat.
Woodbine. Race 8. 5:00. Conor Murphy ships Irish-bred Emmaus north from Kentucky for Grade 2 Connaught Cup. Son of Invincible Spirit prepped with runner-up to Therapist in Elusive Quality at Belmont in late April in his U.S. debut. Other top threats in 7-furlong turf stakes include Curlin’s Honor, Shakhimat and Yorkton.
Lone Star Park. Race 4. 5:02. Mr Money Bags returns to Texas-bred competition after a bust against Grade 3 runners in the Pat Day Mile. The son of Silver City is 4-for-6 and should score again over My Bling who has chased him twice.
Penn National. Race 6. 5:02. Ms. Locust Point and Cairenn, 1-2 in stakes last time at Laurel, are back for $100,000 Penn Ladies Dash along with Yorkiepoo Princess, Crabcakes and Bronx Beauty.
Arapahoe Park. Race 6. 5:05. Remember Lieutenant Seany O? The 10-time winner used to ply his trade on the New York circuit, the 8-year-old returns for his first race since being claimed at Fair Grounds back in January 2018. He looks strong in this $13,500 allowance.
Prairie Meadows. Race 8. 5:12. Kauai, a son of Girolamo, takes on Iowa-bred rivals in the Gray’s Lake.
Belmont. Race 8. 5:18. About two hours before the Penn Mile comes the Grade 3 Pennine Ridge, which offers a $200,000 purse and an extra furlong for 3-year-old turf horses.
Hastings. Race 2. 5:20. Ah, the memories. Somebody find Bruno Zalubil, the Emerald Downs Handicap looks like a stormer with Summerland putting her four-race win streak on the line. The daughter of He’s Tops has only lost once in seven tries.
Penn National. Race 7. 5:30. The $100,000 Chocolate Town Sprint – a nod to nearby Hershey – features field of seven led by Laki, stablemates Midnightcharly and Midtowncharlybrown and Killybegs Captain.
Santa Anita Park. Race 4. 5:31. Comical Ghost, 3-year-old son of Ghostzapper out of Grade 1 winner Hystericalady, makes debut for Godolphin and Bob Baffert going 6 furlongs.
Laurel. Race 10. 5:40. The pair from Fair Hill – Our Star and Diffuse Nebula – could be tough in 1-mile maiden for fillies and mares. The latter makes debut for Graham Motion and Flaxman Holdings. Catwalk Whiz probably sports the best race on her form, a third in mid-April going 7 furlongs at Laurel.
Arlington Park. Race 7. 5:44. Larry Rivelli sends out P H Factor and Enzoexpress looking to improve on stellar win percentage – 47 percent through Thursday – in 1 1/16-mile turf optional.
Monmouth. Race 11. 5:48. Wooderson tries for back-to-back victories in two-turn optional after starting the season with victory in the mud at Keeneland going extended 7-furlong trip.
Woodbine. Race 10. 6:02. Yoga fans will be all over Vinyasa. Horseplayers maybe not so much, considering the daughter of Court Vision hasn’t been close in three starts heading into 1 1/16-mile maiden optional on the grass.
Penn National. Race 8. 6:05. Souper Striking and Enchanted Ghost should appreciate a bit of class relief in $100,000 Susquehanna for fillies and mares on the grass. Same for morning-line favorite Dynatail, fifth in the Grade 3 Gallorette on Preakness Day.
Arlington. Race 8. 6:15. La Force chased Paradise Woods futility last time in Grade 2 Santa Margarita and ships East for Grade 3 Arlington Matron. Waiting are the super-consistent local Daddy’s Boo and Kentucky shippers Coachwhip and Na Pali Spirit.
Gulfstream. Race 12. 6:34. Florida-bred 2-year-olds close the card at 5 furlongs.
Penn National. Race 9. 6:40. Turf sprinters not pointed to next weekend’s Grade 1 Jaipur at Belmont run for $100,000 in Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup going 5 furlongs. Completed Pass runs back on two weeks’ rest after winning Jim McKay Turf Sprint on Black-Eyed Susan undercard while graded stakes winner Pure Sensation makes first start since winning optional at same distance in mid-April at Gulfstream.
Santa Anita. Race 7. 7:03. Maxim Rate brings 2-for-3 mark to the table for Grade 2 Honeymoon. Daughter of Exchange Rate topped Lady Prancelot in last two starts and that’s one back, along with familiar rival Hostess and California Oaks winner Sold It.
Penn National. Race 10. 7:15. Regal Glory deserving favorite for $200,000 Penn Oaks off back-to-back runner-up efforts in graded stakes. If she’s vulnerable perhaps it’s to Ionic or Alasaayil for top connections.
Santa Anita. Race 8. 7:33. Paradise Woods blasted field in Grade 2 Santa Margarita and will again to be short-priced favorite in Grade 2 Santa Maria. Tough to find a would-be upsetter to multiple Grade 1 winner.
Penn National. Race 11. 7:50. Nine entered for featured Grade 3 Penn Mile, including A Threat Of Blue, winner of the Grade 3 Palm Beach and runner-up in Grade 2 American Derby in last two starts, Grade 3 winner Forty Under, Real News, Casa Creed and Empire Of War.
Remington Park. Race 8. 7:50. Three hundred and 50 yards for $1,073,100. How would like to announce this one? Jesses Dashair, Jess B One and Jesse D break from the 4-5-6 stalls.
Churchill Downs. Race 7. 9:05. Lemon’s Medaglia, daughter of Medaglia d’Oro out of 2006 Kentucky Oaks winner Lemons Forever, makes debut in 7-furlong maiden for Steve Asmussen and owner/breeder Chuck Fipke.
Churchill. Race 8. 9:39. Two-turn optional for 3-year-olds on the main track draws good group that includes Night Ops, Get The Prize, Tapit Wise and Rotation.
Churchill. Race 9. 10:11. Morticia takes on the boys in $100,000 Mighty Beau in fourth start of 2019. She’s been as consistent this year as the past two seasons and meets good group that includes Bobby’s Wicked One, Extravagant Kid, Om and Will Call.
Churchill. Race 10. 10:42. Seven entered for Grade 3 Aristides. Mr. Crow looks to take the lead in the Colebrook barn with the retirement of fan favorite Limousine Liberal, while Share The Upside, Wilbo and Kowboy Karma look tough in 6-furlong stakes.
Churchill. Race 11. 11:10. Whew, look at that post time. That’s a tough turnaround for help.