The Summer Solstice in the books, Independence Day barreling down and a jam-packed day of racing to send June off in style.
Irish Derby Day leads things off overseas at The Curragh, where a strong card awaits. Here in the U.S., Stephen Foster Day packs its usual big punch on Closing Day at Churchill Downs, while the Ohio Derby anchors a good card at Thistledown. Elsewhere there’s graded stakes at Arlington Park, Belmont Park and Woodbine to keep you busy between races from the Iroquois Steeplechase in Nashville. We preview all the action from Percy Warner here.
Here’s your primer for Saturday, June 26. Be safe and good luck.
The Curragh. Race 1. 9:00 a.m. The stellar Irish Derby card kicks off here with the Free Dash Stakes.
Newcastle. Race 3. 9:20. Diligent Harry wins the Group 3 Chipchase Stakes.
Newmarket. Race 4. 9:40. Logician won his first six and now has lost his next two, the son of Frankel tries to the right the ship in the Fred Archer Stakes. Ah, the tragic story of Fred Archer.
Newcastle. Race 4. 9:55. The Northumberland Vase launches stayers 2 miles. Sure, it was more captivating on turf but, alas, enjoy what you have. Two miles on synthetic. We’ve got Vibrance, Dreamweaver and Margaret Dumont on our Horse Tracker.
In the Room with Jose Ferrer. 10:00. HRRN. Sean talks everything from staying fit to hand riding with the 57-year-old veteran, atop the Monmouth Park standings. www.horseracingradio.net The Equine Forum starts at 8:00 ET on Sirius 219, XM 201.
The Curragh. Race 3. 10:05. The Group 2 Railway Stakes offers redemption for Cadamosto, fourth as the favorite in the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot. Castle Star, winner of her last two, represents Craig Bernick and Antony Beck. Peter Brant flies his silks with Dr Zempf.
Newmarket. Race 5. 10:15. Wow, a competitive group of 11 clash in the Group 3 Criterion Stakes.
Windsor. Race 4. 10:35. Ah, a Saturday afternoon at Windsor. The Midsummer Stakes highlights the card.
The Curragh. Race 4. 10:45. The Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby. This classic has looked like a Coolmore Classic in years past but this year there is intrigue and depth. Sure, Aidan O’Brien sends out Arturo Toscanini, favorite High Definition, Matchless, Van Gogh and Wordsworth, but the raiders match their moxie with the likes of Epson Derby-third Hurricane Lane, Group 3 winner Lone Eagle, Irish Two Thousand Guineas winner Mac Swiney and Derby runner up Mojo Star.
The Curragh. Race 5. 11:20. Group 3 Arm Holding International Stakes keeps the hits spinning with a field of 12, including Cadillac, last seen finishing fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. He takes on 8-year-old mare True Self, third in the Tattersalls Gold Cup in her most recent start for Willie Mullins.
Chester. Race 6. 12:05 p.m. We just like the name of this one. The Horseradish Handicap. Iconic Belle goes for her 12th career win, now that’s cause for a bloody mary with an extra dash of zip.
Gulfstream Park. Race 1. 12:20. Start things off here in the states with a 2-year-old maiden at 5 furlongs.
Thistledown. Race 1. 12:20. Ohio Derby Day starts with 5 1/2-furlong allowance worth $22,500.
Churchill Downs. Race 1. 12:45. Stephen Foster Day starts with $100,000 maiden for older horses at 6 1/2 furlongs.
Churchill. Race 2. 1:14. Full field of 12 2-year-olds for 6-furlong maiden that could produce a starter for Saratoga or Ellis Park stakes later this summer.
Belmont. Race 2. 1:31. Up To The Mark, a colt by Not This Time who cost $450,000 at last year’s Keeneland September sale, and Winchell Thoroughbreds’ homebred Gun Runner colt Under The Gun take on worktab star Labarde in 5 1/2-furlong maiden for 2-year-olds.
Pimlico Race Course. Race 3. 1:38. Still going strong in Baltimore. Graham Motion sends Estival and Turning Point south for what was supposed to be a 1 1/16-mile turf maiden that also lures Stuart Janney III’s homebred Uncle Mo filly Pruning from Belmont for Shug McGaughey. The Maryland Jockey Club announced Friday it was doing maintenance on the turf course so all grass races are now on the main track.
Gulfstream. Race 4. 1:49. The $75,000 Not Surprising. Named for the 1995 champion sprinter and five-time graded stakes winner, this one is a 1-mile turf event for 3-year-olds.
Monmouth Park. Race 5. 2:11. Seasons could not have been more unlucky when second in the Hilltop on Black-Eyed Susan Day at Pimlico. Now the daughter of Tapit gets chance to redeem in the $75,000 Boiling Springs. Hopefully a good run here sets up a trip to Saratoga for Jimmy Toner and his crew.
Churchill. Race 4. 2:13. Bourbon War, unplaced in last year’s Preakness and Belmont, looked good in comeback and stretches back out to two turns in $104,000 optional on the main track.
Monmouth. Race 6. 2:32. Wesley Ward thought enough of Guana Cay to run her as a maiden in the Grade 1 Spinaway at Saratoga – a race coincidentally won by the then maiden Vequist. Guana Cay finished fifth that day but won her next start. She’s back here in 6-furlong allowance second off the layoff.
Churchill. Race 5. 2:45. Letruska dominated the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps on Belmont Day and comes back seeking fourth stakes win of 2021 in Grade 2 Fleur de Lis. She won’t have it easy with Point Of Honor, Spice Is Nice and Envoutante also in the field.
Thistledown. Race 7. 3:26. Plenty of familiar foes for $75,000 Daniel Stearns Cleveland Gold Cup, including Buckeye Magic, Brig, Henry Mac and Uptown.
Arlington Park. Race 1. 3:29. State-bred 1-mile allowance for fillies and mares kicks off the card.
Churchill. Race 7. 3:50. Helium, 2-for-2 on synthetic as a 2-year-old in Canada, makes turf debut in $150,000 War Chant. Eighth in the Kentucky Derby and third in the Grade 3 Matt Win in his last two starts, son of Ironicus will be tough against this group if he likes the grass.
Arlington. Race 2. 4:02. Brendan Walsh ships Bryce Canyon north for 1-mile optional on the grass. Son of Ghostzapper was distanced after a rough start in his last start but racked up a good record in New Orleans this winter. He’ll need to return to that form to handle Richiesgotgame.
Belmont. Race 7. 4:06. Rockemperor, fifth in the Grade 1 Manhattan on Belmont Day, goes same 10-furlong trip here in turf optional that also attracts New York-bred stakes winner Dot Matrix, Mr Alec and Opry.
Thistledown. Race 8. 4:14. Big purse and big names for the $250,000 Lady Jacqueline Stakes going 9 furlongs. Graded stakes winners Horologist and Spice Is Nice in the field along with Getridofwhatailesu, Jilted Bride and last year’s Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks runner-up Crystal Ball.
Churchill. Race 8. 4:22. Steve Asmussen goes for fifth win – but amazingly first since 2007 – in the $150,000 Debutante Stakes with Wicked Halo and Tizplenty. They take on eight others, including local debut winners Ontheonesandtwos, Behave Virginia and Mollie Kate.
Woodbine. Race 7. 4:30. Live Oak looks like it has the Grade 3 Trillium over a barrel with Souper Escape going for Mike Trombetta and Crystal Glacier going for Mark Casse. Others that could factor in $150,000 stakes for fillies and mares include stakes winner Merveilleux, Skygaze and Heavenly Curlin.
Belmont. Race 8. 4:40. The Grade 2 Mother Goose. That still seems strange, one of New York’s most important stakes for 3-year-old fillies and no longer a Grade 1. That could change after this year’s renewal featuring unbeaten Always Carina, Kentucky Oaks fourth Clairiere, Make Mischief, Illiogami and Zaajel. Small field but good field.
Churchill. Race 9. 4:55. Red Run could lead a big day for Gun Runner as he takes on 10 others in the Grade 3 Bashford Manor.
Thistledown. Race 9. 5:04. The main event, the Grade 3 Ohio Derby and a field of nine. Keepmeinmind, seventh in the Kentucky Derby and fourth in the Preakness, leads the way along with Grade 3 Lexington winner King Fury, Grade 3 Peter Pan winner Promise Keeper, Sir Barton runner-up Hozier, The Reds, Ethical Judgement and Proxy. Masqueparade ran huge on Kentucky Derby Day and he makes his stakes debut for Al Stall Jr.
Belmont. Race 9. 5:12. Lovestruck, winner of the Tepin late last November at Aqueduct, makes her return in $100,000 Wild Applause. Strong field for 1-mile turf stakes also features Hilltop winner Alda, last-out allowance winner Minaun, Nevisian Sunrise, Bye Bye and Bubbles On Ice.
Churchill. Race 10. 5:26. The Grade 2 Wise Dan. Named for one of our favorites and soon-to-be Hall of Fame inductee, 1 1/16-mile turf stakes looks like good spot for Set Piece to land his first graded win. Don’t count out old reliable New York-bred Somelikeithotbrown, winner of the Grade 2 Dinner Party last time out, or his stablemate Field Pass.
Los Alamitos Race Course. Race 4. 5:28. Five Cal-bred 3-year-olds line up for the $100,000 Bertrando.
Arlington. Race 5. 5:39. Six first-timers take on Roger McQueen, third as the favorite in his debut, in 5-furlong 2-year-old maiden.
Churchill. Race 11. 5:59. The headlining Grade 2 Stephen Foster figures to be the latest prize landed by the once-beaten Maxfield. Winner of the Grade 2 Alysheba last time out, he’s 3-for-3 in Louisville and a standout for $600,000 event that also attracts Silver Dust, Warrior’s Charge and Visitant.
Churchill. Race 12. 6:27. The day isn’t finished – nor are the stakes – and the $150,000 Tepin brings the meet to a close.
Arlington. Race 7. 6:44. Larry Rivelli holds strong hand for $100,000 Hanshin Cup with Richiesinthehouse and Bizzee Channel. Captivating Moon likes the synthetic, too, and exits tougher stakes at Fair Grounds and Churchill.
Arlington. Race 8. 7:13. The featured Grade 3 Chicago for fillies and mares. Club Car couldn’t handle Chub Wagon – who can? – in the Skipat last time at Pimlico and makes second start on the synthetic for Ben Colebrook. Dreamalildreamofu also comes out of a stakes at Pimlico – second in the Grade 3 Allaire duPont going 9 furlongs – and shortens up for Brad Cox on the outside.
Los Alamitos. Race 8. 7:28. How about this one, Peaceful Transfer makes first start in his new name in 1-mile optional. Previously named Royal Trump, son of Ministers Wild Cat will need to show improvement against this group.