Saturday Special – February 6

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Super Bowl weekend typically features a pretty strong slate of racing and 2016 is no exception with cards worth noting at Gulfstream Park, Santa Anita Park and several venues overseas. Saturday Special presented by Pin Oak Stud, home of Alternation, Broken Vow and Cowboy Cal, gets you ready for the day before the big football game.

The Donn Handicap highlights the action on the East Coast while Songbird’s seasonal debut and the Robert B. Lewis get top billing out West.

Here’s your primer for Saturday, February 6. Good luck.

Leopardstown. Race 1. 7:55 a.m. No sleeping in, get up, get out of bed and catch Ivanovich Gorbatev try to secure his claims on Cheltenham favoritism as he makes his second career start in the Juvenile Hurdle.

Sandown. Race 2. 8:15. Peace And Co won the Triumph Hurdle in March, solidifying a 4-for-4 career record. The sky was the limit. Then the sky fell. He’s made one start since, a last-place effort in December. The French-bred 5-year-old tries to lift the clouds here.

Sandown. Race 3. 8:50. If you watched Being AP, you would have seen plenty of footage from Mr Mole. Sam Twiston-Davies rides the enigmatic chaser here. If you didn’t, here’s the trailer:


Leopardstown. Race 3. 8:55. And the beat goes on, Willie Mullins sends out three of the five runners in the Grade 1 Deloitte Novice Hurdle. Bellshill, winner of four in a row, leads the trio.

Ffos Las. Race 2. 9:05. The Welsh Champion Hurdle. Not exactly the (British) Champion Hurdle, but still a good race with our old friend Deputy Dan trying to snap an eight-race losing streak. He won’t face World Hurdle favorite Thistlecrack here.

Sandown. Race 4. 9:25. You can’t beat Lizzie Kelly’s rise to stardom. She became the first woman to win a Grade 1 chase when she guided Tea For Two to win the Kauto Star in December. She tries to add to the legend here, partnering the talented novice chaser in the Scilly Isles Novice Chase. Stellar card at Sandown, so keep watching all day.

Leopardstown. Race 4. 9:30. There is life after American steeplechasing. Sean Flanagan crushed it while he was here, riding first call for champion trainer Jack Fisher. Flanagan went home and tried again. Many wondered why. This is why. Flanagan rides favorite Monksland in the Grade 1 novice chase.

Wetherby. Race 4. 9:45. Grade 2 novice chase attracts 150+ rated chasers, Blaklion and Native River. Bitofapuzzle, also entered at Sandown, continues her chase career.

Lingfield. Race 5. 10:30. All-weather racing can get lost in the shuffle in the heart of National Hunt racing, but Lingfield offers a decent card, including the Ladbrokes Handicap.

Leopardstown. Race 6. 10:40. Great card. The Irish Gold Cup attracts the likes of First Lieutenant, Carlingford Lough and Road To Riches. The latter leads a five-horse grenade from Gigginstown. Look for the white star on his cap.

Aqueduct. Race 3. 1:20 p.m. Todd Pletcher trains half the six New York-bred 3-year-olds entered for $100,000 Gander Stakes. Sudden Surprise is most accomplished of the trio, with five wins in six starts, and makes first start around two turns.


Gulfstream Park. Race 4. 1:25. Lady Shipman turned in one of the best campaigns of 2015, winning seven of 10 sprinting on the grass. Daughter of Midshipman gets 4-year-old campaign going for new trainer – Kiaran McLaughlin – right where last year’s started in $75,000 Ladies Turf Sprint.

Gulfstream. Race 5. 1:54. Wildcat Red loves Gulfstream – he’s been first or second nine times in 11 starts – and looks tough against Tommy Macho, Stanford and Ami’s Flatter in Grade 3 Fred W. Hooper.

Aqueduct. Race 5. 2:20. Wine Not ran as well as a firster could – without winning – after terrible start Jan. 9. First Dude gelding stretches out

Gulfstream. Race 6. 2:23. Older fillies and mares square off in Grade 3 Suwanee River going 9 furlongs on the grass. Chad Brown’s duo of Light In Paris and Tammy The Torpedo look tough.

Tampa Bay Downs. Race 5. 2:25. High-profile connections will slug it out for $23,000 purse in 1-mile maiden on the grass for 3-year-olds.

Laurel Park. Race 6. 2:43. Alajmal, winner of Grade 1 Colonial Cup in 2013, takes another stab at maiden special weight company on the main track. Third last time going 7 furlongs, 8-year-old First Samurai gelding tries 1 mile this time around for Janet Elliot.

Gulfstream. Race 7. 2:53. Big field of 13 3-year-olds for 6-furlong maiden on the main track.

Gulfstream. Race 8. 3:23. Ditto to what we wrote for seventh race, only this one is going long on the grass.

Gulfstream. Race 9. 3:53. What’s the weather forecast for South Florida? Take a peak at the also-eligible list – Saratoga Mischief and Outwork – they’ll be two to watch if they get in. And if they don’t expect them soon in other spots.

Oaklawn. Race 5. 4:08. Almost Famous was mentioned as a classics contender by some a couple years back. He’s a long ways from that these days but might wake up going 6 furlongs for the first time since 2-year-old campaign.

Gulfstream. Race 10. 4:23. Power Alert’s comeback at Tampa Bay Downs should set old veteran up well for $75,000 Gulfstream Turf Sprint. He’ll get good test from Pure Sensation, Amelia’s Wild Ride and Bold Thunder.

Gulfstream. Race 11. 4:53. The dozen in 3-year-old maiden going 9 furlongs playing a little catch-up.

Santa Anita. Race 4. 5:00. How good are the West Coast 3-year-olds this year? We’ll find out a little after the Grade 3 Robert B. Lewis. Mor Spirit looks to confirm his class for Bob Baffert while I Will Score tries to stay perfect for Jerry Hollendorfer. Don’t count out Let’s Meet In Rio; the further the better for that one.


Oaklawn. Race 7. 5:09. Cosmic Evolution, winner of last year’s Debutante at Churchill Downs, gets 3-year-old campaign started in 6-furlong allowance.

Gulfstream. Race 12. 5:23. Arlington Million winner The Pizza Man scared many off in Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap. He’ll give weight to his seven rivals, who look a few cuts below if 7-year-old by English Channel is at or near his best.

Fair Grounds. Race 7. 5:23. Two weeks removed from going 2 miles in the H. Allen Jerkens, 2014 Belmont Stakes runner Matuszak back in New Orleans for shorter allowance on the grass.

Santa Anita. Race 5. 5:30. The return of Songbird highlights the day and the Grade 2 Las Virgenes. Unbeaten and seriously untested, daughter of Medaglia d’Oro stands over this bunch.


Oaklawn. Race 8. 5:38. Nickname was as good as an 2-year-old last summer at Saratoga and validated that notion with easy win in Grade 1 Frizette. Scat Daddy filly looks to get on path to Fantasy Stakes and possibly Kentucky Oaks in $100,000 Martha Washington. Marquee Miss and Durango were one-two in Dixie Belle and could present a challenge.

Gulfstream. Race 13. 5:53. Always a favorite, the $500,000 Donn Handicap is first serious Grade 1 test East of the Mississippi River. Keen Ice conquered American Pharoah in Travers and is prepping for Dubai bid. Mshawish might be doing the same. Valid loves the track and couldn’t be in better form.


Oaklawn. Race 9. 6:09. Maiden 3-year-olds go two turns in finale.

Santa Anita. Race 7. 6:30. The Grade 2 San Antonio took a hit when Dortmund didn’t enter because of a foot issue. Key prep for the Big ‘Cap still features the four that chased California Chrome in the San Pasqual – Imperative, Hoppertunity, Hard Aces and Blingo.

Golden Gate Fields. Race 7. 6:45. The $50,000 California Oaks. Looks like Eoin Harty and Casner Racing left Florida in search of synthetics for Slip Of The Tongue. Colonel John filly sports good record on it, as does 8/5 favorite Code Warrior and 5/2 second choice Kiss N Scat.

Santa Anita. Race 8. 7:00. Tough to separate the 11 entered in Grade 2 San Marcos going 10 furlongs on the grass.

Santa Anita. Race 9. 7:30. Ten Blessings, colt by Smart Strike out of two-time champion Indian Blessing, one of three entered in 3-year-old 6-furlong maiden for Bob Baffert.