It’s the last Saturday before Christmas, the second-to-last Saturday before New Year’s, it’s time to make the money to buy the presents to keep your family and friends joyous and fulfilled.
Racetracks should offer gift certificates for future bets…$50 gift certificate for a bet of your choice at Aqueduct…Turfway…Parx…Golden Gate…we’d be finished with our shopping, “Here, Grandma, bet 50 bucks when you feel like it.”
Ascot. Race 2. 8:15 a.m. Competitive five-horse field lines up for the graduation chase. Oliver Sherwood tries to keep the fire burning with Puffin Billy.
Haydock. Race 4. 8:30. Bitofapuzzle continues her ascent for Harry Fry. You’ll see her at Cheltenham, fanning the flame left in the cold by Quevega.
Lingfield. Race 4. 9:00. Mymatechris goes for his fourth win in a row for Andrew Balding and David Brownlow.
Ascot. Race 4. 9:25. Second chance. We tipped Aubusson a few weeks ago, he was 9-1 that day. He steps up against Cheltenham winner Medinas and 10-time winner Zarkandar.
Lingfield. Race 5. 9:35. Grendisar, Baltic Knight highlight the Quebec Stakes.
Ascot. Race 5. 10:00. Neil Mulholland tries to throw some dirt over The Young Master’s debacle when winning a race he wasn’t eligible for in his latest. Nice horse. Should win.
Ascot. Race 6. 10:30. Grade 3 hurdle going 2 miles attracts 19, including Greatwood Hurdle winner Garde La Victoire, Adonis Juvenile winner Activial and Grade 3 winner Shelford, like throwing 19 eggs on the fryer.
Laurel Park. Race 1. 12:35 p.m. “Hey, Gabby, go find out the story on Dare Ego in the first at Laurel and write 500 words on him.” Oh, if we were only writing The Laurel Park Special. Dare Ego makes his career debut at age 5, he’s a South Carolina-bred, owned by breeder W. Harvey McLeod, by Race ‘N Brace, a son of Hard Crush, out of an Alleged mare. There has to be a story there…Gabby…Gabby…
Fair Grounds. Race 1. 1:00. Cinco Charlie seeks his fifth win in the Sugar Bowl. Two-year-old son of Indian Charlie owns wins at Churchill Downs, Delaware Park and Laurel Park this year. Watch him win the James F. Lewis at Laurel last time out.
Mahoning Valley Racecourse. Race 4. 2:08. Ohio-bred fillies and mares square off again in the Bobby Bricker Memorial. Again? Yes, again. All five starters met in the Ohio Debutante in November. Circle Can Run won that day and she’s even money to win again.
Tampa Bay Downs. Race 5. 2:18. Joan Scott searches for win No. 2 for Speed Seeker. She won a Grade 3 stakes at Woodbine in August before trying tough spots in Kentucky. She’s entered at Gulfstream Friday as well.
Gulfstream Park. Race 5. 2:31. Dr No makes his debut for Graham Motion after a 1-for-6 mark with Richard Hannon in England. Blinkers come off, Lasix goes in, Rosario booked. Hard To Port and Dubai Sky represent Team Mott.
Tampa Bay Downs. Race 7. 3:16. George and Sue Sensor will be tuning in from their Camden farm to watch Travinia try to break her maiden. The $50,000 yearling purchase drops to the maiden claiming ranks for the first time.
Laurel Park. Race 7. 3:26. Road trip. Helicity, Gursky, Stress Test, My Team and Magnum Opus travel from Fair Hill Training Center for this maiden affair. Wonder if Motion, Dutrow, Trombetta and Lawrence are car-pooling?
Gulfstream. Race 7. 3:29. Allen Jerkens unveils Flying Again for Stronach Stables. Yes, Stronach Stables. Reconnoiter makes his career debut for Pape/Sheppard, a 2-year-old son of Henrythenavigator, continuing Pape’s move to Kentucky-based stallions.
Gulfstream. Race 8. 3:58. Don’t see this move too often. Daddy’s Kid goes from Great Meadow to Gulfstream Park, a $25,000 hunt meet flat race to the Tropical Park Derby. Reid Nagle takes Charles Town-based Travis Dunkelberger with him. Nice horse, he’s won three of six this year and just missed to Ring Weekend in the Grade 3 Hill Prince. Of course, Coturnix and Manacor handled him at The Plains. Watch Daddy’s Kid chase Ring Weekend in the Hill Prince.
Fair Grounds. Race 8. 4:21. Promise Me Silver rounds out her American Tour of Racing in the Letellier Memorial. The undefeated Texas-bred visited Lone Star Park, Churchill Downs and Remington Park this year.
Gulfstream. Race 9. 4:27. A mile and seven sixteenths on the turf. Our kind of race.
Gulfstream Park. Race 10. 4:57. The Tropical Park Oaks. Sandiva breaks from the Tiki Bar, she’s 4-1 for Pletcher and Castellano.
Fair Grounds. Race 10. 5:19. Sometimes there’s nothing worse than reading, “Previously trained by…” Trainer David Banks died Dec. 6. His former runner makes his first start without him for Banks’ sister Virginia Lazenby and his widow Allison’s Farm d’Allie Racing Stable. The horse’s name…Help From Heaven.
Los Alamitos Race Course. Race 5. 5:22. Gallant veterans Setsuko and Big Kick try to right their careers. Either one would look good in the paddock at Great Meadow. They’re a long way from there as they meet in an optional claimer. Baccelo, a Grade 1 winner in Brazil, seeks his first win in America.
Sunland Park. Race 9. 5:44. Fillies and mares line up for the $50,000 Bold Ego Stakes. Yes, Bold Ego, the great New Mexico-bred who won his first five starts at Sunland and Ruidoso Downs before running in all three legs of the Triple Crown in 1981, actually finishing second to Pleasant Colony in the Preakness. We never understood naming a filly and mare stakes after a colt, ah well, the likes of 10-time winner Lasting Bubbles and 12-time winner African Rose would make Bold Ego proud.
Los Alamitos. Race 8. 6:46. Dortmund (left) returns to California for Bob Baffert, he decimated maidens at Santa Anita and allowance foes at Churchill Downs in November. Imposing son of Big Brown aims at his first stakes score in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Futurity. Mr. Z makes his eighth start for Wayne Lukas and Zayat Stable.
Penn National Race Course. Race 3. 6:54. Bill Fossett, of You The Man fame, aims to win his third in a row with homebred One Fast Chick. The daughter of First Defence is a granddaughter of the great No Fat Chicks.
Turfway Park. Race 6. 8:40. Five-time winner Set The Sail tries to give the LoPresti barn some Christmas money in the $60,000 Prairie Bayou Stakes. Maryland-based Dane Kobiskie keeps the meter running, sending out Cerro, a $25,000 claim in September.
Charles Town. Race 8. 10:11. The raid continues. Harlan’s Destiny, a West Virginia-homebred for James Miller, travels from Keeneland to Charles Town for the third time this year. So far, she’s 2-for-2 and looks long gone in the Eleanor Casey Memorial. Take the odds-on and get some stocking money.
Enjoy the races. Enjoy the holidays. The next Saturday Special be written from Birmingham, Alabama, maybe we’ll check out Birmingham Race Course and write it from there.