Saturday Special – January 23

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Even though a huge part of the country will spend the weekend digging out from the storm that dumped plenty of snow, the show goes on elsewhere with racing in warmer locales. The first snowmageddon edition of Saturday Special presented by Pin Oak Stud, home to Alternation, Broken Vow and Cowboy Cal, will hopefully provide a respite from the white stuff and be the perfect primer for an afternoon hunkered down on the couch.

Saturday’s cards were scrapped at Laurel Park and Charles Town before the snow even started and NYRA called off Aqueduct’s Saturday program by mid-afternoon Friday. Others are probably in jeopardy by the time the heavy stuff comes down.

The featured races of the day are a real smorgasbord, with the Grade 2 Santa Monica for older females the lone graded event of the day, three stakes at Tampa Bay Downs and the H. Allen Jerkens going 2 miles carrying the torch in South Florida. Don’t miss the 6-year-old debut of Clearly Now at Fair Grounds.

The jump-racing docket overseas is pretty light, too, so you might not miss much of the early Premier League action if that strikes your fancy.

Here’s your primer for Saturday, January 23. Good luck.

Navan. Race 2. 8:20 a.m. Gigginstown, as always, plays a strong hand. Bright New Dawn and Roman Gold bookend the 2-mile hurdle.

Ascot. Race 3. 8:50. Willie Mullins continues his assault on European jump racing, venturing to Britain with Vroum Vroum Mag. She’s won six races from six starts over fences.

Ascot. Race 4. 9:25. Lil Rockerfeller, a Pennsylvania-bred son of Hard Spun, aims at handicap hurdle. He takes on 17 rivals in this Grade 3 hurdle.

Haydock. Race 4. 9:40. The New One, a 12-time winner over hurdles, gets class relief in the Champion Hurdle Trial. He’s won six of his last eight, the winner of those two races…the great Faugheen. Well, at least the 2015 Champion Hurdle winner isn’t here.

Ascot. Race 5. 10:00. Two-mile chasers converge in the Clarence House Chase. Un De Sceaux has one chink in his armor, jumping. The Irish raider needs to improve his accuracy against the likes of Sire De Grugy and Vibrato Valtat.

Tampa Bay Downs. Race 6. 2:50. Think Godolphin wants black type? They unleash three homebred fillies at the Gasparilla Stakes.

Gulfstream Park. Race 6. 3:05. Kismet’s Heels and Gimlet exit same December 12 maiden race. They both closed well after wide trips but must overcome another big field.

Tampa Bay. Race 7. 3:20. Brian Lynch unveils Awesome Slate, 3-for-5 in Canada, in the Pasco Stakes.

Fair Grounds. Race 3. 3:25. What’s the best option when you’ve got a small field of older female maidens with a combined record of 0-for-27? Go with the first-time starter. In this 6-furlong event that’s Spank, a 4-year-old daughter of Blame who debuts for Al Stall Jr.

Tampa Bay. Race 9. 4:20. The Wayward Lass completes a three-stakes menu. Joint Return tries to snap her 11-race losing streak for trainer John Servis.

Gulfstream. Race 9. 4:35. Field of nine for 2-mile H. Allen Jerkens. Charming Kitten won Grade 3 stakes going 12 furlongs last time and owns a win going 2 miles in the 2014 Belmont Gold Cup.

Oaklawn Park. Race 6. 4:39. Wonder if Bold Conquest will look for American Pharoah as he walks in the paddock for this allowance race? The 10-time stakes starter chased the future Triple Crown winner in the Rebel and Arkansas Derby last year. He’s won one race in between those larks. He’s 9/5 here.

Fair Grounds. Race 6. 4:54. Matuszak, who ran in the 2014 Belmont Stakes, takes another drop in 1-mile claiming race on the grass.

Fair Grounds. Race 7. 5:23. Royal Obsession looked good winning debut at end of Churchill fall meet. Tapit filly tries to make it 2-for-2 for Steve Asmussen and Stonestreet in 1-mile allowance-optional.

Turf Paradise. Race 7. 5:27. The Hank Mills Sr. Handicap attracts the heavy hitters from the west. Absolutely Call seeks win No. 11. Swiss Idol goes for win No. 12. Omar eyes his 13th career victory.

Oaklawn. Race 8. 5:38. The American Beauty, a $100,000 stakes for fillies and mares, anchors the card. Super Saks seeks her third straight win for D. Wayne Lukas.

Sunland Park. Race 9. 6:10. Take a break from the snow shovel and watch the Winsham Lad Handicap, a $65,000 stakes on the dirt. We love Ol Winedrinker Who. We don’t know how he’s coming into the race, don’t really care, we just want to yell, “Come on Winedrinker, one time.”

Fair Grounds. Race 9. 6:21. Graded stakes winner Clearly Now, third in Control Strike’s Thanksgiving Handicap in first start for Ron Faucheux last time, meets that foe again in 6-year-old debut.  

Santa Anita Park. Race 8. 7:00. British-bred Prize Exhibit makes her first start on the dirt in the Grade 2 Santa Monica.

Turfway Park. Race 8. 9:38. Virtual reality. Go ahead, handicap the allowance feature. You can’t be wrong, because, the blizzard will most likely wipe out any live racing within the blanket of white.

Sam Houston. Race 8. 10:31. No snow in Texas. Hunker down and revel in the four-stakes card. Break Free did exactly that in his most recent start, a 27 1/4-length romp against maidens. He returns to stakes in the Groovy.