How’s this for a lineup? The North American slate features 20 graded stakes over the weekend, from Friday to Sunday, and with plenty of Breeders’ Cup implications on the line. We preview the Saturday docket here, with the annual autumn return of The Saturday Special.
Our team is recharged and rebooted from a busy Saratoga season and we’re here through the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, New York Showcase, Maryland Million, Fair Hills and beyond. Wherever the big races are run our team will preview the action, sometimes with picks and other times with analysis. Maybe even both.
The primer almost always starts overseas, where it’s Arc Weekend at Longchamp. The Saturday slate from Europe features racing from Ascot, Newmarket, Redcar, Fontwell and Longchamp.
Here in the U.S. there are major graded stakes from Belmont Park, Santa Anita Park, Churchill Downs and more. Here’s your primer for Saturday, Oct. 2. Good luck.
Longchamp. Race 1. 7:23 a.m. Start here and don’t do anything else. The Group 2 Qatar Prix Chaudenay kicks off a stellar weekend of racing at Longchamp.
Ascot. Race 1. 8:30. Strong day at Ascot kicks off with a listed affair for fillies. We touted Passionova when she won back in February, perhaps, she finishes her 3-year-old season with a bang here.
Longchamp. Race 3. 8:33. The Group 2 Qatar Prix Daniel Wildenstein. All we can think about is All Along.
Longchamp. Race 4. 9:15. Stop what you’re doing. Watch Stradivarius.
Newmarket. Race 3. 9:20. Thirty-strong field takes aim at a big pot in the Tattersalls October Auction Stakes.
Ascot. Race 3. 9:40. The Group 3 ABF/BCG Cumberland Lodge Stakes attracts Hukum for Shadwell and Owen Burrows. The 4-year-old has won two Group 3 contests this season.
Longchamp. Race 4. 9:55. The Group 1 Qatar Prix De Royallieu launches the stayers a testing 1 3/4 miles. Blinkers go on 6-5 favorite Valia.
Newmarket. Race 4. 9:55. Wow, awesome renewal of the Group 1 Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot. Snow Lantern? Saffron Beach? Mother Earth? Tie on.
Ascot. Race 4. 10:15. Veteran Glen Shiel takes aim at the Group 3 John Guest Racing Bengough Stakes.
Gowran Park. Race 5. 10:20. What happened to summer? It’s National Hunt season! Put The Kettle On makes her seasonal debut after a three-win campaign last season, including the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham.
Redcar. Race 4. 10:35. Another lucrative purse for the William Hill 2-year-old Trophy, a sales race worth a cool $205,500.
Ascot. Race 5. 10:50. Oh, have fun with this one. Seventeen runners in the 7-furlong Challenge Cup Handicap.
Fontwell. Race 5. 11:10. A solid six-horse field emerge for the feature handicap. Pyramid Place tussled with some graded foes last season and makes his reappearance here.
Belmont Park. Race 1. 1:00 p.m. Gary Sciacca, still on the hunt for career win No. 1,000, sends out Litterbox in 6-furlong claimer on the main track. He runs three others on the card – Sirius Princess in the second, Amity Island in the third and Tuesday’s Child in the finale.
Laurel Park. Race 3. 1:40. The Fall Festival of Racing stakes program kicks off with the $150,000 Laurel Futurity for 2-year-olds on the grass. Balanced group of nine features stakes winners Epic Luck and Determined Kingdom, along with well-meant maiden winners High Stock, Ready To Perform, City At Night and Stride.
Laurel. Race 4. 2:10. Older fillies and mares take their turn on the turf course in the $100,000 All Along Stakes. On paper it looks like Tuned versus Oyster Box.
Belmont. Race 4. 2:33. The Grade 2 Miss Grillo opens the stakes on the card and McKulick, Hail To, Kinchen and Philly Eagles look tough in short field.
Laurel. Race 6. 3:14. Chad Brown sends Consumer Spending down from his Belmont string for the $150,000 Selima. Daughter of More Than Ready won in her second start on the grass on Closing Day at Saratoga and looks tough in 1-mile stakes on the grass for 2-year-old fillies.
Laurel. Race 7. 3:46. Full field of 12 for the $100,000 Laurel Dash, including the Steve Asmussen-trained Boldor, last-out stakes winner Francatelli and Matta.
Churchill Downs. Race 8. 4:22. Knicks Go, amazingly winless in three starts in Louisville, looks to take final step toward Breeders’ Cup Classic and even Horse of the Year title in the Grade 3 Lukas Classic. The winner of the Grade 1 Pegasus, Whitney and Saudi Cup this season, he stands out against five opponents led by Tacitus.
Santa Anita Park. Race 3. 4:48. Mo Forza won last year’s Grade 2 City of Hope Mile and he’s back to defend, off just one prep in his victory Aug. 21 in the Grade 2 Del Mar Mile.
Belmont. Race 8. 4:40. Steve Asmussen would love nothing better than to add another Grade 1 win to the resume of Gun Runner and he sends out Grade 1 Hopeful winner Gunite against five others in the Grade 1 Champagne. Todd Pletcher stands in his way with three runners – Wit, My Prankster and Commandperformance – along with Chad Brown’s Jack Christopher.
Laurel. Race 9. 4:50. Tide Of The Sea tries to end six-race losing skid in $100,000 Japan Turf Cup going 12 furlongs on the grass. He’s the heavy favorite on the morning line although Hierarcy, A Thread Of Blue and Oceans Map could factor.
Belmont. Race 9. 5:14. A possible trip to the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint on the line in the Belmont Turf Sprint Invitational, which draws a field of nine led by Pulsate and Backtohisroots – the first two in the Lucky Coin – and Arrets Me Red, Therapist and Chewing Gum.
Churchill. Race 10. 5:25. Aloha West – who managed to make the Fasig-Tipton Stable Tour with the Little Guys in The Saratoga Special – ran lights out this summer at Saratoga and takes step up in Grade 3 Ack Ack against promising 3-year-old Beau Liam, Rushie and Plainsman.
Woodbine. Race 9. 5:30. Ontario-bred fillies go 10 furlongs on the grass in the Wonder Where. Munnyfor Ro finished fourth in the Queen’s Plate last time out and returns to the grass for Kevin Attart, while Il Malocchio tries to make it two in row in her first start on the turf since last September.
Belmont. Race 10. 5:45. Welcome back. The Woodward returns to Belmont for its 68th running. A field of six entered for the one-turn 9-furlong test, including Maxfield, Dr Post and Art Collector. And don’t overlook Code Of Honor; he’s 3-for-6 at Belmont and under the radar a bit after bypassing other spots at Saratoga.
Santa Anita. Race 8. 7:06. C Z Rocket dominated in two starts at Oaklawn Park this winter but has lost three straight – albeit good efforts – and he takes on Flagstaff, Dr. Schivel and Collusion Illusion in Grade 2 Santa Anita Sprint Championship.
Santa Anita. Race 9. 7:38. Nine fillies and mares line up for the Grade 1 Rodeo Drive, including Dogtag, Going To Vegas, Magic Attitude and Luck.
Santa Anita. Race 10. 8:10. Medina Spirit, fresh off his victory in late August in the Shared Belief and scratched out of last week’s Pennsylvania Derby, stays home to take on Tripoli, Tizamagician, Express Train and Idol in the Grade 1 Awesome Again with all eyes on next month’s Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Santa Anita. Race 11. 8:42. Don’t hit the exit or turn off the remote just yet. Here’s the Grade 2 John Henry Turf Championship, featuring last year’s winner United, Acclimate, Master Piece and Neptune’s Storm.