The holidays are barreling down and after this weekend it will be into the single digits for shopping days until Christmas.
Despite that ominous deadline for some, there’s still plenty of time to procrastinate, to put off that holiday baking a few more days and give up completely on the idea of decorating the inside and the outside of the house.
If you’ve been hit with a case of the stalls, you’re in luck. There’s plenty of interesting racing from around the world to help fill the void left by the lack of college football action Saturday, not including the always-intriguing Army-Navy showdown.
Fire up the television, laptop and the ADW account early though, with lots of action. Technically the Hong Kong International Races program won’t be run until doesn’t go off until Sunday but since it starts close enough to Saturday – 1 p.m. on the East Coast and 10 p.m. in California – we’ll take a crack at the four Group 1 stakes.
Cheltenham. Race 1. 7:15 a.m. The Triumph Hurdle Trial. Cheltenham Festival clues abound.
Doncaster. Race 2. 7:30. Undefeated over hurdles, Zeroeshadesofgrey goes for his third straight win. He broke his maiden over hurdles by 20 and returned to win a novice hurdle by 16. He faces another easy task here.
Cheltenham. Race 2. 7:50. Champagne West has won four of his last five for the red-hot team of Richard Johnson and Philip Hobbs. He benefits from Virak opting for Doncaster.
Cheltenham. Race 4. 9:00. The Grade 3 Caspian Caviar Gold Cup. Caid Du Burlais won the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham in November.
Doncaster. Race 5. 9:15. Three-year-old hurdles square off in the Grade 2 hurdle. Starchitect is undefeated for Donald McCain, Peace And Co travels the well-worn road from France to England while L’Aigle Royal tries to regroup after a loss at Cheltenham in November.
Cheltenham. Race 5. 9:35. The Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle. Binge Drinker has been binge winning, he goes for his fifth straight for Rebecca Curtis. The champ Tony McCoy picks up the ride, the sixth different rider for Binge Drinker in his last six starts.
Doncaster. Race 6. 9:50. Paul Nicholls swerves Cheltenham and aims here with Virak. He’s 6/5 in the novice chase.
Cheltenham. Race 6. 10:10. The Stanjames.com International Hurdle. Where are the Americans? Divine Fortune, Demonstrative, Decoy Daddy…come on. Maybe April in Aintree. The New One seeks his fourth straight. His last loss? Cheltenham last March when he finished third behind Jezki and My Tent Or Yours in the Champion Hurdle. Nicky Henderson gets brave with Vaniteux who fiished second in the Greatwood Hurdle a month ago.
Cheltenham. Race 7. 10:45. Basically, don’t turn off Cheltenham. The Relkeel Hurdle attracts Lac Fontana, Rock On Ruby and Volnay De Thaix.
Gulfstream Park. Race 1. 12:35 p.m. Proper opener for weekend No. 2 in Hallandale Beach with allowance/optional going 6 furlongs. Enchantress tries again for Pletcher and Coolmore.
Aqueduct. Race 2. 12:49. Juvenile maidens sprinting on the inner track. Well-bred firsters for Albertrani (Carry the Beat), McLaughlin (Ocean Knight and Ekhlaas) and Weaver (Cort).
Tampa Bay Downs. Race 2. 12:55. Stroll colt named Bourbon Chase goes for $8,000 in maiden-claiming sprint on the main track. Interested in an adventure? Check out the Bourbon Chase.
Fair Grounds. Race 1. 1:00. Louisiana Champions Day kicks off with Grade 1 Louisiana Champions Day Quarter Horse Classic, the first of three straight Quarter Horse races to open the card.
Gulfstream Park. Race 3. 1:33. Familiar cast for Grade 3 Sugar Swirl – 2014 Honorable Miss winner R Free Roll, Merry Meadow, Risky Rachel, Centrique and others.
Fair Grounds. Race 4. 2:25. No Star Guitar? No problem. Sunbean goes for second straight Louisiana Champions Day Classic victory as the 2/5 favorite against four others. Star Guitar won six of these, including four straight Classics from 2009 to 2012.
Gulfstream. Race 5. 2:31. Admirably named Hay Oats and Water tries again for Team Valor in 1 1/16-mile maiden on the grass. Others like Updraft, Yolo Kitten and Hoon try to graduate.
Parx Racing. Race 6. 2:40. Two-turn maiden for 2-year-old fillies draws entrants from high-profile out-of-town barns, including Tony Dutrow, Alan Goldberg and Todd Pletcher.
Hawthorne Race Course. Race 3. 2:55. Rematch of Showtime Deb Stakes in Pat Whitworth Illinois Debutante for Illinois-bred 2-year-old fillies. Second-, third-, fourth- and fifth-place finishers are back for 1 1/16-mile test. The winner of Showtime Deb was Timesday and she won an allowance/optional locally Thursday.
Mahoning Valley Racecourse. Race 6. 3:04. Joshua Radosevich Memorial is named for 16-year-old apprentice who died riding races back in 2005.
Aqueduct. Race 8. 3:43. The 109th running of Queens County Handicap. What a history with winners like War Admiral, Bold Ruler, Gallorette, Roamer, Old Rosebud and Zev. The 2014 edition brings you Vyjack, Stormin Monarcho, Misconnect, Micromanage, Elnaawi and others. Where have you gone Third Martini?
Wolverhampton. Race 7. 3:45. Class 2 stakes going two and a sixteenth miles. Love the options of the races and the variety of the fields in England. Harris Tweed is a 7-year-old gelding seeking his win number eight, Ted Spread is a jumper, Snowmane is a 3-year-old son of Galileo and Hidden Gold is a 3-year-old filly who has won her last three starts.
Turf Paradise. Race 3. 3:49. Adam Kitchingman ships Del Mar maiden winner American Sun to Arizona for allowance on grass. Eoin Harty will be represented, too, with Darley Stable’s Guild. Will they share the van ride?
Gulfstream. Race 8. 3:58. Tough to pick just one in $100,000 El Prado.
Fair Grounds. Race 8. 4:21. Vivian Da Bling, fourth in Grade 2 Adirondack at Saratoga, breaks from the rail in Champions Day Lassie and tries to rebound from disaster in Delta Downs Princess.
Gulfstream. Race 9. 4:27. Liam’s Map could not have been better winning last time out at Aqueduct. He takes next step in $100,000 Harlan’s Holiday against seasoned stakes foes Pants On Fire, Valid, Schivarelli, Csaba and the filly Rose to Gold.
Gulfstream. Race 10. 4:57. Big field of fillies and mares for $100,000 South Beach going 7 1/2 furlongs on the turf.
Hawthorne. Race 8. 5:25. Illinois-bred colts and geldings take their turn in Jim Edgar Illinois Futurity. Similar story, with four of the first five in the key prep back again, including dominating winner Dom the Bomb.
Fair Grounds. Race 11. 5:50. Mr. L. S. Shoe – interesting name – tries to stay unbeaten in Champions Day Juvenile from Post 14.
Fair Grounds. Race 12. 6:20. Remember Designer Legs? Put up on DQ in 2012 Adirondack, she’s 20-1 in Champions Day Ladies Sprint that wraps the card.
Los Alamitos Race Course. Race 8. 7:00. D. Wayne Lukas is back for more with Take Charge Brandi in Grade 1 Starlet Stakes, formerly known as the Hollywood Starlet. Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner won Delta Downs Princess last time and reunites with Victor Espinoza. She doesn’t get it easy here with Feathered, fourth in Juvenile Fillies, and promising duo of Achiever’s Legacy and Maybellene in the field of seven.
Turfway Park. Race 4. 7:42. Tough girls. Rob And Jon’s Girl has won five of her last seven while Royal Alluvial has won five of her last six. They clash in the starter allowance.
Remington Park. Race 7. 10:48. Owner/breeder/trainer C. R. Trout hit it with Imahit. The 5-year-old son of Whywhywhy seeks his ninth career win and third straight in this $40,000 allowance race.
Sha Tin. Longines Hong Kong Vase. 1 a.m. EST Sunday. The $2,128,714 Vase features the last two winners – Red Cadeaux and Dominant – and Breeders’ Cup Turf and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe runner-up Flintshire going 2,400 meters (about 1 1/½ miles) on the grass.
Sha Tin. Longines Hong Kong Sprint. 1:40 a.m. Sunday. The $2,386,666 Sprint going 1,200 meters (about 5 furlongs) looks wide open on paper. Of course when that happens the favorites complete the superfecta.
Sha Tin. Longines Hong Kong Mile. 2:50 a.m. Sunday. The $2,967,223 Mile might be showcase for top local threat Able Friend despite what pundits believe is a difficult draw from post 11. The well-traveled Trade Storm, winner of the Woodbine Mile and third in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, is also in the field.
Sha Tin. Longines Hong Kong Cup. 3:30 a.m. Sunday. The headlining $3,225,328 features three runners from leading local conditioner Tony Cruz’s barn in Blazing Speed, California Memory and Helene Super Star. Cirrus des Aigles has been around the world again and again and tries to get it done in his fifth attempt in the 2,000-meter (about 1 1/4-mile) Cup. There’s another interesting entry in Farraaj, who should be familiar to U.S. fans after finishing third in 2011 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Churchill Downs and 11th in 2013 TVG Pacific Classic at Del Mar. Military Attack and Designs on Rome are the last two winners of the Horse of the Year title in Hong Kong and they’re in the field.