Saturday Special: Eastern Strong

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Racetracks East of the Mississippi are the place to be this weekend with restricted or state-bred action at Belmont Park, Laurel Park and Charles Town Races leading the way.

The best action isn’t restricted to those spots though, with Far Hills hosting its annual premier steeplechase meet, Keeneland serving up its second to last Saturday card of the year and Woodbine putting on a good spread the day before one of its signature days.

The European seasons is winding down, but not before a spectacular day of racing at Ascot with the QIPCO British Champions Day program.

Here’s your primer for Saturday, Oct. 18.

Ascot. Race 1. 8:45 a.m. Get the breakfast dishes put away, Champions Day starts with 2-mile Long Distance Cup.

Ascot. Race 2. 9:20. Field of 17 for Group 2 British Champions Sprint.

Ascot. Race 3. 9:55. Give Chicquita a pass for her last in the Arc. She looks good in Group 1 Fillies and Mares.

Ascot. Race 4. 10:30. A entrants from Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes could have bolstered Breeders’ Cup Mile in two weeks. Good rematch between Charm Spirit and Night of Thunder with Integral lurking.

Ascot. Race 5. 11:05. The 2014 edition of Group 1 Champion Stakes isn’t the most spectacular in recent memory, but the ultra consistent Cirrus des Aigles, Ruler of the World, Free Eagle and Noble Mission all present interesting storylines.

Ascot. Race 6. 11:45. Balmoral Handicap, worth $450,000, draws field of 28 going 1 mile on turf. Got to love European racing.

Laurel Park. Race 1. 12:15. The $100,000 Maryland Million Nursery kicks off big day. Bullheaded Boy is cross-entered in restricted Sleepy Hollow at Belmont. Ah, the advantages of restricted racing programs.

Laurel. Race 2. 12:52. The Maryland Million Distaff. Morning-line favorite Classy Coco was fourth last year, while 7/2 second choice Ann’s Smart Dancer was second. Go for the price.

Belmont Park. Race 2. 12:52 p.m. First of eight stakes on the Empire Showcase card is the Sleepy Hollow for 2-year-olds going 1 mile. Todd Pletcher looks tough – surprise, surprise – with Ostrolenka and Bullheaded Boy.

Belmont. Race 3. 1:24. The Maid of the Mist looks like it’s all about Temper Mint Patty.

Woodbine. Race 2. 1:30. Bangkok returns after finishing fourth, beaten only 2 lengths, in classic Breeders Stakes in 1 1/16-mile allowance on the Polytrack.

Belmont. Race 4: 1:56. Picking a winner between Kharafa, King Kreesa, Notacatbutallama and Lubash in$200,000 Mohawk Stakes isn’t easy.

Woodbine. Race 3. 2:00. Mark Casse is still killing it north of the brother. He sends out the Strong Hope filly Responsive in 2-year-old maiden going 6 furlongs.

Laurel. Race 4. 2:03. The Maryland Million Sprint.

Keeneland. Race 3. 2:07. Love the Beard course – 7 furlongs and 184 feet.

Belmont. Race 5. 2:29. La Verdad vs. Willet in $150,000 Iroquois.

Keeneland. Race 4. 2:38. Brian Lynch sends Cuppa Joe down from Woodbine. Ignore at your peril.

Laurel. Race 5. 2:41. Devilish Love is heavy favorite for Maryland Million Ladies going 9 furlongs on grass, but Monster Sleeping brings the credentials. Oratory mare owns a win at Laurel and a victory at the distance.

Finger Lakes. Race 4. 2:45. Alwaysinstilettos seeks third straight win in 6-furlong allowance, all since fifth in the Fleet Indian at Saratoga.

Gulfstream Park West. Race 5. 3:09. Pletcher unveils Al Khazaaliya, first-time starter by Blame who cost $275,000 earlier this year.

Belmont. Race 7. 3:35. Inaugural edition of the $250,000 Empire Distaff Handicap. Paging Mitch Friedman.

Delaware Park. Race 7. 4:03. Remember Divine Proportions? European champion, two-time French classic winner. Monoceros, her 3-year-old Giant’s Causeway colt, makes U.S. debut in 1-mile and 70-yard allowance for Graham Motion and Flaxman Holdings.

Belmont. Race 8. 4:08. Saratoga Snacks is back to defend $300,000 Empire Classic Handicap. Is owner Bill Parcells signing copies of his new book? Wouldn’t mind a copy.

Keeneland. Race 7. 4:11. Lynch again with Woodbine shipper. He owns this one, Kiama, and she looks tough in turf sprint allowance.

Gulfstream Park West. Race 7. 4:13. Tired of Derek Jeter? Too bad. The $90,000 Cellars Shiraz Stakes brings you Derek’s Girl, 3-year-old filly by Brother Derek; and Jeter and Me, 3-year-old filly by Zanjero. No word on A-Rod.

Laurel. Race 8. 4:29. Seriously big field of 13 for Maryland Million Lassie. No worries that six are maidens. Miss Bullistic won Selima Stakes on grass and is favored. Unbeaten Rocky Policy is the one to beat.

Woodbine. Race 8. 4:36. Hillhouse High, third to Miss Frost at Saratoga, is back on Polytrack for Ruling Angel Stakes going 6 1/2 furlongs.

Keeneland. Race 8. 4:48. Class Leader’s last was too bad to be true. No way he’s 15-1 and if he is, please get paid.

Laurel. Race 9. 5:01. Five words. Maryland Million Turf. Ben’s Cat. That is all.

Belmont. Race 9. 4:41. Discreet Marq back with New York-breds and thankfully not against Dayatthespa. She tops $200,000 Ticonderoga.

Santa Anita Park. Race 3. 5:07. Two weeks until the Breeders’ Cup. Get tuned up for the Turf Sprint with the California Flag Handicap going 6 ½ furlongs down the hill.

Keeneland. Race 9. 5:13. The Grade 2 Lexus Raven Run always draws a big field. Plenty to choose from this year, shop for a price. Taris looks good.

Belmont. Race 10. 5:14. Strong group of sprinters will bang it out for 70 seconds (probably) less in $150,000 Hudson Handicap.

Gulfstream Park West. Race 9. 5:17. The Showing Up Stakes features our old friend Wallyanna. He won’t be 23-1 like he was in the Hall of Fame last summer at Saratoga.

Laurel. Race 10. 5:37. Morning-line on Eighttofasttocatch seems a little short at 3/5, but considering he’s won Maryland Million Classic the last two years maybe it’s not such a stretch for 2014 renewal.

Charles Town Races. Race 1. 7:00. West Virginia Triple Crown Nutrition Breeders’ Classic gets Breeders’ Classics card off to start with an overflow field going 4 1/2.

Charles Town. Race 3. 7:56. Hear the Chatter dominated both races locally and looks tough in Vincent Moscarelli Memorial.

Charles Town. Race 4. 8:24. Greenway Court has been first or second 15 times in 20 starts locally. Windsor Castle will be tough in West Virginia Dash for Cash.

Charles Town. Race 5. 8:52. Best race name of the day. The $85,000 West Virginia Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association Onion Juice Breeders’ Classic.

Meadowlands. Race 5. 9:00. Admit it, you can’t get enough. Florida State should be well into the beat down of Notre Dame by post time of this heat. Saratoga winner Cheyenne Nation runs for the cheapest of his career, $16,000.

Charles Town. Race 7. 9:48. Chrome Mine is 5-for-6 lifetime. Tough to go against in Division of Tourism.

Charles Town. Race 8. 10:17. Put on the coffee, Down Town Allen is back and looking for another Jefferson Security Bank Cavada Breeders’ Classic.

Charles Town. Race 9. 10:47. Well done racing executives putting the headliner as the finale. No sense watching a high school football game after the Super Bowl. The big dogs in the $500,000 Classic all drew outside – Lucy’s Bob Boy, Fred High and Russell Road.