All the Breeders’ Cup preps in the books and a brief reprieve before a big weekend of state-bred festival action next weekend, The Saturday Special rolls along approaching the midpoint of October.
Plenty of big races line the docket, starting overseas with a strong card at Newmarket before continuing here in North America with five graded stakes led by three major events at Woodbine. The Grade 1 Canadian International and E.P. Taylor headline the card in suburban Toronto.
Right about the time everything slows down in the U.S. the West Virginia Breeders’ Classics rev up at Charles Town. The action there starts in the opener at 7 p.m., so plenty of time to cap the day with a winner or two or five.
Here’s your primer for Saturday, October 11. Take care, be safe and good luck.
Maisons-Lafitte. Race 1. 8:35 a.m. Alocasia, a daughter of Kingman, takes on the boys in the Group 2 Criterium de Maisons-Laffitte on heavy ground.
Newmarket. Race 1. 8:45. Ascension has been on exactly that with two wins from three starts for our old friend, Roger Varian.
Newmarket. Race 2. 9:20. Group 3 juveniles clash in the Godolphin Flying Start Zetland Stakes. Mythical travels from Ireland for the Coolmore machine while Alan King sends out Tritonic, a rare flat 2-year-old runner for the jump trainer.
Limerick. Race 2. 9:35. Hong Kong cost $1 million. A million isn’t what it used to be, the son of American Pharoah has yet to threaten in two starts.
Newmarket. Race 3. 9:55. Undefeated American-bred juveniles Cherokee Trail and Dontaskmeagain clash in the Group 3 Dubai Autumn Stakes.
Limerick. Race 3. 10:10. Aidan O’Brien takes some pressure off Pink Dogwood, the daughter of Camelot drops into the listed Martin Molony Stakes after five consecutive tries against Group 1 competition, including the Prix De L’opera just six days ago.
Chepstow. Race 3. 10:20. The ever-adaptable Lil Rockerfeller returns for another crack at mastering the chasing game. The 11-time winner has done it all in an eclectic career that has banked nearly $600,000 in all spheres.
Newmarket. Race 4. 10:30. Aidan O’Brien launches four at the Group 1 Dewhurst. He might need all of them to upend the 5-for-5 Pinatubo for Godolphin and Charlie Appleby.
Hexham. Race 5. 10:40. We had our eye on Floating Rock last year after he won a bumper. Four-year-old makes his hurdle debut for Tom Lacey.
York. Race 4. 10:50. Strong card at York, highlighted by the Coral Sprint Trophy Handicap, pitting 22 sprinters, including the irascible Louie De Palma. Now, where is Alex, Elaine, Bobby and Jim?
Chepstow. Race 4. 10:55. Early season clash of rockers Secret Investor and Reserve Tank for Paul Nicholls and Colin Tizzard in this captivating novice chase. Jarveys Plate and Post Trish add bricks to the wall.
Newmarket. Race 5. 11:10. One of our most favorite races in the world. The Cesarewitch. $448,000, 2 miles, 31 runners. Wow, that’s good racing.
Chepstow. Race 5. 11:30. Chepstow delivers with the Grade 3 Silver Trophy. The handicap hurdle attracts veterans Ballyandy and upstarts Greaneteen and Imperial Aura.
Newmarket. Race 6. 11:45. Listed fillies keep the light on a stellar card. Bravo Sierra travels from France for Andre Fabre and picks up Dettori.
Hexham. Race 7. 11:50. And in the name of the day sweepstakes, we introduce you to Grumpy McGrumpface.
Chepstow. Race 6. 12:05 p.m. Come on, Valdez, turn back the clock.
Newmarket. Race 7. 12:20. OK, watch Look Around win the Darley Stakes and you’ll still have time to get to the Virginia Fall Races.
Meadowlands. Race 2. 12:58. Nine 2-year-olds for 5-furlong maiden on the grass.
Keeneland Race Course. Race 1. 1:05. Queen Elizabeth II Day starts with good two-turn allowance for fillies and mares.
Keeneland. Race 3. 2:12. Multiple graded stakes winner American Anthem makes first start for trainer Rodolphe Brisset in 7-furlong optional.
Keeneland. Race 4. 2:45. Full field for 1 1/16-mile turf maiden.
Gulfstream Park West. Race 5. 3:03. Indy Ride, fifth in a small stakes, returns to maiden ranks for fourth start while Mark Casse sends out Pioneerof The Nile first-time starter Lomaki Force for owner-breeder Chiefswood Stables Ltd.
Keeneland. Race 6. 3:51. A dozen 2-year-old fillies for 6 1/2-furlong maiden, including Day Dayenu for Mark Casse and John Velazquez, Palio Flag for Chad Brown and Jose Ortiz and Turtle Trax for Ian Wilkes and Julien Leparoux.
Belmont Park. Race 7. 4:07. Mominou upset the Caress early in the Saratoga meet, earned a freshening and returns for $100,000 Floral Park against heavy favorite Goldwood. That one scratched from similar turf sprint for fillies and mares at Keeneland Friday for this spot.
Keeneland. Race 7. 4:24. California shippers are faring well at the meet, so how about Tina’s Exchange at 8-1 for Phil D’Amato.
Woodbine. Race 7. 4:30. Opening stakes of the day is Grade 2 Nearctic going 6 furlongs on the grass. Larry Rivelli ships Richiesinthehouse in from Chicago with 2-for-3 mark on the grass and off a victory on synthetic at Presque Isle. Yorkton carries the flag for the home team.
Parx Racing. Race 9. 4:31. Spun To Run, fifth and only beaten 1 1/2 lengths in Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby, runs back in $100,000 M.P. Ballezzi Appreciation Mile against older foes that include South American import Carlos L., Phat Man, Senior Investment and Zanotti.
Belmont. Race 8. 4:40. Jonathan Thomas was high on Starting Over in his Fasig-Tipton Stable Tour this summer, saying “he’s a horse that has a good start at 2 this year and maybe we can think about some bigger races next year.” Augustin Stable homebred son of Liam’s Map ran well in debut going 1 mile and shortens up to 7 furlongs for second start.
Woodbine. Race 8. 5:05. The Grade 1 E.P. Taylor features a truly international cast, including the comebacking Argentine-bred Si Que Es Buena, German-bred Durance, English-breds Gaining, Red Tea, Imperial Charm and Platane and Ontario-bred classic winner Holy Helena.
Belmont. Race 9. 5:13. If you like 3-year-old fillies the next stretch of time will be right up your alley. Here’s the Grade 2 Sands Point and its field of seven led by New And Improved, Dyna Passer and Romantic Pursuit.
Keeneland. Race 9. 5:30. The lone Grade 1 of the day in the U.S. – after a litany of them the last few weekends – is Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes. Always a good one, 9-furlong turf stakes for 3-year-old fillies draws trio from Chad Brown’s barn (no surprise there) in Cambier Parc, Cafe Americano and Regal Glory. The latter finished in dead-heat with Varenka last time in the Grade 2 Lake Placid and meet again today. They all might be chasing European import Castle Lady.
Santa Anita Park. Race 5. 5:40. McKinzie’s younger half sister Map Maker, 2-yea-old daughter of Liam’s Map out of Runway Model, makes debut for owner-breeder Summer Wind Farm and trainer Bob Baffert.
Woodbine. Race 9. 5:42. The Grade 1 Pattison Canadian International, always one of the best races of the year up north, could be a European runaway with Ziyad, Pivoine, 2018 winner Desert Encounter and Alounak in the field and in good form. What about our man Nessy? Veteran distance specialist looks to improve on second in Grade 1 Northern Dancer last time.
Keeneland. Race 10. 6:03. Even if you’re dashing out for the Kentucky-Arkansas game (see Tom Law), you can still stick it out for the 6-furlong maiden for fillies and mares the close the card. And bet Getridofwhatailsu.
Santa Anita. Race 7. 6:45. Three weeks out from Breeders’ Cup Saturday and the $100,000 California Distaff Handicap and its field of 6 going 5 1/2 furlongs on the grass carries the card.
Charles Town Races. Race 1. 7 p.m. The $75,000 West Virginia Vincent Moscarelli Memorial Breeders’ Classic for juveniles going two turns and 6 1/2 furlongs leads off the card.
Charles Town. Race 2. 7:32. The $75,000 West Virginia Lottery Breeders’ Classic.
Charles Town. Race 3. 8:02. Time for the 2-year-old fillies in $75,000 West Virginia Triple Crown Nutrition Breeders’ Classic.
Charles Town. Race 4. 8:32. Parisian Diva, 7-for-11 lifetime at the track, returns to state-bred ranks after a fourth in Grade 3 Charles Town Oaks. Daughter of Freedom Child will be tough from the outside in $75,000 West Virginia Tourism Office Breeders’ Classic at 7 furlongs.
Charles Town. Race 5. 9:02. Best name of the year, hands down. The $75,000 West Virginia Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association Onion Juice Breeders’ Classic. Decision time. Take a stand against Penguin Power, or back her at odds-on?
Charles Town. Race 6. 9:32. Shortening up for the $75,000 West Virginia Dash For Cash Breeders’ Classic.
Charles Town. Race 7. 10:02. Big purse, big favorite for the $175,000 West Virginia Cavada Breeders’ Classic. That role falls to Anna’s Bandit, winner of her last two and four of six locally.
Charles Town. Race 8. 10:32. The main event. The $300,000 West Virginia Breeders’ Classic at 9 furlongs – that’s three turns – and another chance to Runnin’toluvya to add a big payday to season that includes victory in Grade 2 Charles Town Classic. Nine opponents await.
Charles Town. Race 9. 11:02. Don’t quit yet, here’s the $75,000 West Virginia Roger Ramey Breeders’ Classic Distaff.