Saturday Special – December 12

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How’s the Christmas shopping coming along? Holiday parties? What about the tree, lights, wreath and the baking? Check, check, check and check? If so congrats, if not, don’t worry and put it off another day and settle in for some racing.

Overseas and here at home, we’ve got your covered with this week’s Saturday Special presented by Pin Oak Stud, home to Alternation, Broken Vow and Cowboy Cal.

Less than two weeks until Christmas and three until we ring in the New Year, so understandably the choices are getting a bit more limited.

There’s still top-shelf action with the Grade 1 Starlet, formerly known as the Hollywood Starlet when Hollywood Park still existed, and Fair Grounds hosts the jam-packed Louisiana Champions Day. Toss in some Gulfstream, Aqueduct, Laurel and Tampa for some lagniappe and you’re on the way to a good day.

Here’s your primer for Saturday, December 12.

Cheltenham. Race 2. 7:40 a.m. More of That? Most likely. Top novice chaser takes on two rivals.

Cheltenham. Race 4. 8:50. The Caspian Caviar Gold Cup. Hey, support the sponsors, buy some caviar for Christmas. Cool race as 15 chasers clash. Ruby Walsh rides Mozoltov who makes his first start since April 2014 for Willie Mullins.

Cheltenham. Race 5. 9:25. The Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle. Network Rouge has come back to life after reverting to hurdles. Youknowhatimeanharry looked strong over the course a month ago. 

Cheltenham. Race 6. 10:00. The International Hurdle. International Hurdle? Where’s America’s representative? Peace And Co puts his unbeaten record on the line. 

Gulfstream Park. Race 1. 12:05 p.m. Our Way was one of the last horses to train – might have even been the last – at Saratoga in 2015. Third in turf maiden in early November at Aqueduct, Tizway gelding makes main-track debut for Jim Bond.

Gulfstream. Race 3. 1:05. Cali Star blasted allowance-optional field last time in first start for Marty Wolfson. The two who chased her and five others try to knock her off in Grade 3 Rampart.

Tampa Bay Downs. Race 3. 1:28. Grass racing in Florida, but only a field of six?

Fair Grounds. Race 1. 1:30. Big day starts off with Louisiana Champions Day Quarter Horse Classic and two more Quarter Horse stakes. Of course it does.

Fair Grounds. Race 4. 2:56. Pacific Pink is 2-for-3 in New Orleans and she could be tough in $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Ladies.

Laurel Park. Race 6. 2:58. Half of 10 2-year-old fillies entered for 6-furlong maiden are first-time starters, including It’s The Truth and Flower Valley for Graham Motion and Cantate Domino and D. K.’s Valentine for Tim Keefe.

Tampa. Race 6. 2:58. Robert Evans retired Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist earlier this week to stand at Lane’s End. He’s the owner of Tidal Surge, who makes first start for Ben Colebrook, in this two-turn allowance-optional on the main track after starting her career with Christophe Clement.

Gulfstream. Race 7. 3:05. Big field of 13 for 2-year-old maiden race on the grass. Not a fan of those that have run, so lean toward Gimlet, More Alex, Kismet’s Heels and Conqueror. Ok, the favorite and second choices are part of that quartet but they are both trained by Pletcher.

Aqueduct. Race 7. 3:20. Leave The Light On landed on many Kentucky Derby Top 10 lists after winning last year’s Grade 2 Remsen then missed the spring summer and fall with ankle injury. Son of Horse Greeley returns in 1-mile and 70-yard allowance-optional on the inner track against older, accomplished foes like Farhaan, North Slope and Dance Champion.

Aqueduct. Race 8. 3:50. Plenty of familiar names and faces in $100,000 Bay Ridge for state-bred fillies and mares. On paper it looks like Flipcup vs. Temper Mint Patty, but don’t discount Star Grazing, Carameaway or Saythreehailmary’s.

Fair Grounds. Race 6. 3:55. Hard to knock the consistency of String King, the winner of four of five this year and 18-for-36 lifetime, going into $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Turf.

Laurel. Race 8. 3:55. Liatris was second to eventual Schuylerville winner Fashion Alert as the favorite in 2014 Astoria Stakes and hasn’t been seen since. Daughter of Warrior’s Reward is 3-5 on the line for 6-furlong allowance against six others.

Gulfstream. Race 9. 4:05. Graded-stakes caliber field for $100,000 South Beach, a 7 1/2-furlong test on the grass for older females.

Hawthorne Race Course. Race 6. 4:20. Richie The Bull returns to circuit and state-bred company after allowance win and third in Juvenile Sprint at Keeneland for Larry Rivelli. No cakewalk in $50,000 Jim Edgar Illinois Futurity with Arlington-Washington Futurity winner Shogood and Cashel Rock in the field.

Aqueduct. Race 9. 4:20. Mets fans of a certain age will love Kiner’s Korner, first-time starter by Posse for Jeremiah Englehart in 6-furlong state-bred maiden. Others won’t have a clue and will scurry to their smartphones.

Gulfstream. Race 10. 4:35. Speaking of graded stakes, the $100,000 Harlan’s Holiday will be graded next year after receiving Grade 3 status last week. Another strong renewal on tap for 2015.

Fair Grounds. Race 8. 4:54. Field of 13 2-year-old fillies entered for $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Lassie. Good luck.

Gulfstream. Race 11. 5:05. War Correspondent looked like a player in the turf division after good start to 2015 season only to go to the sidelines for nearly the rest of the year. Christophe Clement starts over with son of War Front in $100,000 El Prado Stakes.

Fair Grounds. Race 9. 5:23. Too Dim and Heitai were 1-2 in last year’s Louisiana Champions Day Sprint and they’re back for this the 2015 edition of $100,000 stakes.

Fair Grounds. Race 10. 5:52. Solid group lines up for featured $150,000 Louisiana Champions Day Classic, including Super Derby winner Mobile Bay, The Pickett Factor and One King’s Man.

Fair Grounds. Race 11. 6:21. Overflow field for $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Juvenile. Bayou Banker, off the board in two Saratoga attempts and a winner in off-the-turf race at Churchill Nov. 6, is 8-1 on the morning line. That’s good enough for us.

Los Alamitos Race Course. Race 7. 6:28. Found Money back with Cal-breds for $100,000 King Glorious after better-than-it-looks fourth in Grade 3 Delta Downs Jackpot for Doug O’Neill last time.

Fair Grounds. Race 12. 6:50. Final stakes of the day in New Orleans is $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Ladies Sprint. Big question will be if Nov. 22 local prep is a key race.

Los Alamitos. Race 8. 6:58. The $300,000 Starlet is final Grade 1 of the year for 2-year-old fillies. Pretty N Cool chased Songbird in Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante, shipped East to win Grade 2 Matron and flopped in return to Del Mar. Scat Daddy filly one of two for Bob Baffert, along with the Smart Strike filly Treasuring, as he seeks fourth win in former Hollywood Starlet now at its second home.

Turfway Park. Race 8. 9:38. Motivational, a winner on the grass at Ellis Park this summer, makes Polytrack debut in first start for new owner and same trainer.

Charles Town Races. Race 7. 9:55. Aye A Song shows just one blemish in her first five starts. She gets the chance to run record to 5-for-6 in $50,000 Eleanor Casey Memorial.