Take a deep breath, you’ve earned it and you’ll need it for the weekends ahead wading through the opening month of 2020.
A relatively light slate both in Europe and here in the U.S. awaits while the NFL playoffs kick into high gear and winter takes a bit of a hiatus in most portions of the East coast. Fear not though, the cold will return in the north just in time for things heating up in the south with next weekend’s quality racing at Fair Grounds, Gulfstream and Santa Anita.
Those three tracks host good carts Saturday, with graded stakes at Gulfstream and Santa Anita carrying the weekend. There’s plenty of other good racing at Aqueduct, Charles Town, Turfway Park, Turf Paradise and Delta Downs to keep you occupied if the weather holds and it’s a washout.
Start the day with some jump racing at Warwick and Kempton and stick around for late races here in the U.S. Here’s your primer for Saturday, Jan. 11. Take care and good luck.
Warwick. Race 3. 8:50 a.m. Two 142-rated chasers square off in in the Grade 2 chase. Ardlethan for Dan and Harry Skelton and Highest Sun for Colin Tizzard and Robbie Power. All are riding seasonal waves.
Kempton. Race 4. 9:05. Grade 2 chasers clash in the Silviniaco Conti Chase. Nobody would like to win the race more than Paul Nicholls, who trained the honoree. Nicholls sends out one of his stalwarts, the game and consistent Frodon. Top Notch, riding a two-race win streak this season, stands in his way.
Warwick. Race 4. 9:25. Power and Tizzard have formed an iron partnership in recent seasons, they team up in this Grade 2 chase with Harry Senior. Amateur Mr. N. McPharlan takes the reins aboard slight favorite Décor Irlandais for trainer Noel Kelly.
Kempton. Race 5. 9:40. A strong group of hurdlers clash in the Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle. Burrows Edge (from the Brain Power team) aims to rebound from a fall earlier this season.
Warwick. Race 6. 10:35. The Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle series offers key opportunities to staying hurdlers all season long. Beware, Silver Sheen travels for Jessica Harrington and Robbie Power.
Gulfstream Park. Race 1. Noon. Seven of the 10 entered in 6-furlong maiden for 3-year-olds are first-time starters, including Bear Alley and Rogue Element for Dale Romans, Silver Ratio for Todd Pletcher and Awakened for Shug McGaughey.
Gulfstream. Race 3. 1:04 p.m. The 3-year-old fillies take their turn in 1-mile maiden. Ramsey homebred Telephone Talker makes start No. 3 and back on the main track while Todd Pletcher sends out $700,000 yearling Awesome Party for St. Elias and Repole.
Gulfstream. Race 4. 1:33. Second division of 3-year-old maiden marks debut of $1 million Keeneland September yearling Palm Springs, son of Uncle Mo who runs for WinStar, China Horse Club and trainer Todd Pletcher.
Gulfstream. Race 6. 2:32. Upstate New York vibe in 3-year-old maiden at 1 mile with Kiaran McLaughlin sending out Spa City, first-time starter by Street Sense out of multiple graded stakes winner Sara Louise, and Dale Romans running the Awesome Again colt Clifton Park.
Aqueduct. Race 6. 2:55. Cerretalto ventures back into open company after blowout win over state-breds in early November. Six foes for 6 1/2-furlong allowance include Blindwillie McTell, Shamrocked and Ready To Escape.
Gulfstream. Race 7. 3:03. Potential runners for later 3-year-old stakes could emerge from 1 1/16-mile optional on the main track.
Gulfstream. Race 8. 3:34. First of two graded stakes on the card is $150,000 Marshua’s River for older females on the grass. Give the consistent Andina Del Sur the slight edge over Sweet Bye And Bye and Magic Star.
Aqueduct. Race 8. 3:55. Familiar cast for the $100,000 Say Florida Sandy – My Boy Tate, T Loves A Fight, Aveenu Malcainu, Celtic Chaos and more.
Gulfstream. Race 9. 4:06. Endorsed ran big to finish fourth behind Code Of Honor, Tacitus and Mucho Gusto in last year’s Travers, then vanished. He’s back with a string of works at Palm Meadows. Speaking of comebacks, what about Cutting Humor? Last seen finishing 11th in the Kentucky Derby, son of First Samurai who won the Sunland Park Derby also makes return for Todd Pletcher in 1 1/16-mile optional.
Tampa Bay Downs. Race 8. 4:15. Fans of the old-school TV series The Millionaire will be all over J Beresford Tipton.
Fair Grounds. Race 7. 4:24. Big Shanty and Release The Beast renew rivalry while Bet Again steps up to allowance company in state-bred 6-furlong event.
Santa Anita Park. Race 3. 4:32. Storm The Hill drops a few pegs off back-to-back tries in Grade 1 stakes going 1 mile here in the Grade 3 Las Cienegas. Daughter of Get Stormy sports a 5-for-8 mark on the local turf and looks for first win in a turf sprint. Jolie Olimpica, unbeaten in three starts in her native Brazil, makes first North American start for Richard Mandella and Fox Hill Farms.
Gulfstream. Race 10. 4:38. A Thread Of Blue, winner of inaugural $1 million Saratoga Derby, makes first start since close second in Grade 2 Hill Prince in the Grade 3 Tropical Turf at 1 mile. Solid field also includes graded stakes winners Maraud and Gidu.
Turf Paradise. Race 5. 4:46. Early sub-feature on the card with the $30,000 Glendale Handicap for fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles on the grass.
Fair Grounds. Race 9. 5:22. Soul Song and No Parole each blasted maidens in debut for Maggi Moss and Tom Amoss and take next step in state-bred sprint allowance. The latter did his work in New Orleans at odds-on and would bury this bunch with similar effort.
Turf Paradise. Race 8. 6:17. The $75,000 Cotton Fitzsimmons Mile Handicap lures Southern Californian’s Ohio from trainer Mike McCarthy’s barn and River Boyne from Jeff Mullins’ string. The former always runs well and won the Grade 1 Frank E. Kilroe Mile in late March while the latter does the same and comes off good third in Grade 2 Seabiscuit Handicap at Del Mar.
Santa Anita. Race 8. 7:07. Spiced Perfection stretches out for Grade 3 La Canada and takes on Horologist, Message, Queen Bee To You and Der Lu.
Charles Town Races. Race 2. 7:32. Out Of Cents makes second start off layoff for Jeff Runco in 7-furlong state-bred allowance. Remember, that’s two turns.
Penn National Race Course. Race 5. 7:49. So Gucci, who started her career in Southern California with Jeff Bonde and Doug O’Neill, makes local debut for Tim Kreiser in 6-furlong allowance.
Charles Town. Race 3. 8:02. Three turns for $29,000 open filly and mare allowance that draws a field of seven.
Penn National. Race 6. 8:16. Pretty even bunch for state-bred sprint allowance.
Turfway Park. Race 7. 9:12. A dozen, plus two others on the AE list, entered for $46,500 allowance for 4-year-olds and up who have not won two races. Ramsey Solution won last time going 9 furlongs on the grass and makes synthetic debut for Wesley Ward.
Delta Downs. Race 8. 10:18. Need a break from the Tennessee-Baltimore playoff game? How about the $65,000 Sam’s Town? Field of eight for 5-furlong stakes includes 11-time winner Eurobond, 10-time winners Win Lion Win and Wonder Run, 9-time winner Laughingaintssong and the maiden My Pal Jac. Go figure.
Charles Town. Race 8. 10:32. Don’t call it a night yet; here’s the $35,000 Mint Mission Overnight at 6 1/2 furlongs. Clubman ships in from Laurel off two decent efforts in stakes while Aaron’s Tap flies the flag for the home team with his 13 local wins.