Saturday Special – December 31

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We’d like to wish all our faithful and supportive readers a Happy New Year. Don’t burn the candle too low Saturday night; or least not until taking in a day of racing and maybe even a little college football. If it’s racing you’re in the mood for you’re in luck because on the last day of 2016 we’ve got the final Saturday Special presented by Pin Oak Stud.

Graded stakes – including the last Grade 1 of the year, obviously – go down at Santa Anita while Fair Grounds, Aqueduct and Gulfstream feature strong cards. Gulfstream’s feature is one named for one of our favorites and it’s a corker.

We’ve got it all covered in this week’s primer for Saturday, December 31, plus a little lagniappe for New Year’s Day. Good luck, be safe and enjoy.

Aqueduct. Race 1. 12:20 p.m. Final card of the year gets started with two-turn state-bred maiden for fillies and mares.

Gulfstream Park. Race 2. 12:30. Nearly all of the major players represented in 2-year-old maiden race going 7 1/2 furlongs on the grass.

Aqueduct. Race 3. 1:20. Miggsy looks to graduate after solid debut last month on the outer dirt.

Laurel Park. Race 3. 1:30. Graham Motion tries dirt with Expect A Kitten, daughter of Kitten’s Joy who is winless in her first four starts on the grass, while Michael Dickinson looks to break Lift Up’s maiden in 1-mile dirt race for 2-year-old fillies.

Aqueduct. Race 4. 1:50. Sheikh Of Sheikhs makes first start since June and first for Todd Pletcher in 6-furlong allowance.

Gulfstream. Race 5. 2:00. Last chance for those looking to break that maiden as a 2-year-old. Field of eight, including six first-time starters, go 7 furlongs.

Laurel. Race 4. 2:00. Cal Lynch sends out formidable duo of Undulated and Two Charley’s in $100,000 Marylander.

Tampa Bay Downs. Race 5. 2:25. Arnaud Delacour unveils Stonestreet Stable’s 2-year-old Malibu Moon filly A La Luna in 1 1/16-mile turf maiden. He’s also represented by La Parisienne, who exits two good races on the grass in Maryland.

Laurel. Race 5. 2:30. John Jones, third last time in Claiming Crown Jewel at Gulfstream Park for Lacey Gaudet, is back home and at preferred 1-mile trip for $75,000 Jennings.

Laurel. Race 6. 3:00. Interesting group of 2-year-old fillies for $100,000 Gin Talking. Star Super makes first start for Cal Lynch off second in Smart Halo and sixth in Grade 1 Frizette for Dale Capuano.

Gulfstream. Race 7. 3:01. The $75,000 Tropical Park Derby. Inspector Lynley didn’t duplicate his performance in Grade 3 Saranac in Grade 3 Hill Prince then went to the sidelines for a bit. He takes on good group that includes Oscar Nominated, Strike Midnight and Gimlet.

Santa Anita Park. Race 1. 3:30. Good opener – 1 mile on the grass – for older fillies and mares attracts European import Scarlet Honey, Sweet Dragon Fly, Savannah Sky, Warm Endowment and Shazara.

Laurel. Race 7. 3:30. By The Moon lands in favorable spot – the $100,000 Thirty Eight Go Go – after back-to-back Grade 1 attempts in Ballerina (second) and Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (fifth).

Fair Grounds. Race 4. 3:46. Maiden 2-year-old fillies go 5 1/2 furlongs on the grass.

Aqueduct. Race 8. 3:50. Send It In shoots for first stakes victory in $100,000 Alex M. Robb in stakes debut.

Laurel. Race 8. 4:00. The two on the outside – Sonny Inspired and Rockinn On Bye – for $100,000 Dave’s Friend are cross-entered in the Jennings. Which way will their connections go?

Gulfstream. Race 9. 4:03. Evidently surprised in Grade 3 Long Island and looks to make it two in a row in $75,000 Via Borghese going 1 3/16 miles on the grass. Happyness from Chad Brown’s barn aims for third straight victory since coming to the U.S. in first start since mid-May.

Fair Grounds. Race 5. 4:13. Kathballu bids for second straight in $50,000 Pan Zareta after 8-length romp in Orleans Stakes.

Tampa Bay. Race 9. 4:25. Fast Flying Rumor and Power Alert, one-two in last year’s Turf Dash, renew rivalry in this year’s $100,000 edition. Field of 12 also includes Super Spender, Summation Time and Expected Ruler.

Santa Anita. Race 3. 4:30. Even group of five of Grade 3 Midnight Lute. We’ll take the longest price in the morning line – Solid Wager, who is 4-for-14 at Santa Anita for Peter Miller.

Gulfstream. Race 10. 4:34. Proper feature is the $100,000 H. Allen Jerkens. A tribute to a legend among legends, field of 14 is set to go two miles.  Top Striker, winner of the Grade 1 Colonial Cup over jumps in late November, ships down from Camden, South Carolina, for start on the flat.

Fair Grounds. Race 6. 4:40. Loaded field of 14 for $75,000 Woodchopper. Dolphus, half brother to Hall of Famer Rachel Alexandra, dominated off-the-turf allowance at Gulfstream last time and would be making his turf debut.

Santa Anita. Race 4. 5:00. Grass stakes in Southern California are always fun. The Grade 3 Robert J. Frankel, another race on New Year’s Eve named for a legend, features nice group of eight.

Gulfstream. Race 11. 5:05. Azaelia, a Group 1 competitor in France and winner in first start for Shug McGaughey in Aqueduct allowance race in last, steps back into stakes company in $75,000 Tropical Park Oaks.

Fair Grounds. Race 7. 5:07. Another full field of 14, this time for the $100,000 Louisiana Futurity for 2-year-old fillies going 6 furlongs on the main track.

Fair Grounds. Race 8. 5:34. The stakes keep rolling with the $75,000 Pago Hop for 3-year-old fillies going 1 mile on the grass.

Santa Anita. Race 6. 6:00. Another of those last-chance races for 2-year-olds looking to break maidens before the calendar turns. Irap finished second in Grade 1 Los Alamitos Futurity as a maiden and returns to maiden ranks, where he is 0-for-2.

Fair Grounds. Race 9. 6:01. Louisiana-bred colts and geldings take their turn in $100,000 Louisiana Futurity.

Santa Anita. Race 8. 7:00. Last Grade 1 of 2016 is American Oaks, a 10-furlong test for 3-year-old fillies. Stays In Vegas just missed against older foes in Grade 1 Matriarch at Del Mar, while Sass Little Lila ships in from New Orleans and Queen Blossom makes U.S. debut for Graham Motion.

Santa Anita. Race 9. 7:30. State-bred maiden claiming race as the finale. What else did you expect?

Turfway Park. Race 8. 9:38. If you’re still tuned to racing – and not the second national college football semifinal – check out the featured 1-mile allowance on the Polytrack. Tapit Wicked looks ready to break through for Mike Maker and the Ramseys and he’s coupled with the Wesley Ward-trained Smarty Kitten. 

Sunday Special

Santa Anita. Race 8. 7:00. Breeders’ Cup Classic and Travers winner Arrogate makes prep for $12 million Pegasus World Cup in Grade 2 San Pasqual. He’s obviously the class of the field but Midnight Storm, Accelerate and Prospect Park aren’t exactly slouches.