The Saturday Special – January 28

- -

Rare is the day when you get a rematch of the first two finishers from the previous year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic. Even more infrequent is the chance it occurs within just a few months’ time. Racing fans enter a whole new world Saturday with the chance to see such a rematch, between Arrogate and California Chrome, in the inaugural $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational.

Saturday Special presented by Pin Oak Stud previews all the action from Gulfstream, including that super heavyweight showdown, plus racing from overseas and everywhere from New York to California, Maryland to Texas and much more.

Enjoy the day, they don’t come around often and when it’s all said and done you’ll be able to say you saw something pretty special. Here’s your primer for Saturday, January 28. Take care and good luck.

Cheltenham. Race 1. 7:00 a.m. Start here and stay here. Cheltenham lays out the blanket, the basket and the picnic. It starts with the JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle.

Cheltenham. Race 2. 7:35. Champers On Ice and Mercian Prince lead a tough group of novice handicap chasers.

Cheltenham. Race 3. 8:10. Davy Russell on Shantou Flyer, wow, like adding peanut butter to jelly.

Doncaster. Race 2. 8:25. As always, Doncaster presents a quality card, including the Albert Bartlett River Don Novices’ Hurdle. Sharpen your Festival pencil.

Naas. Race 2. 8:30. The Limestone Lad Hurdle. Named after an Irish icon, the Grade 3 attracts a star-packed group led by Ivan Grozny. He’s riding a three-race win streak but loses jockey Ruby Walsh, who goes to England for Un De Sceaux (more about him later).

Cheltenham. Race 4. 8:45. Ah yes, Un De Sceaux. The Irish raider, winner of the Tingle Creek in December, takes on six rivals in the Clarence House Chase. Uxizandre, A.P. McCoy’s final Cheltenham winner returns from that race, all the way back in 2015.

Doncaster. Race 3. 8:55. How would you like the call on Cyrius Moriviere? The 7-year-old has fallen and lost his rider twice in his last three starts. Hang on David Bass.

Cheltenham. Race 5. 9:15. Many Clouds, a Grand National winner, takes on Thistlecrack, the favorite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March. Toss in veterans Silviniaco Conti and Smad Place. The race of the day (sorry, Pegasus).

Doncaster. Race 4. 9:30. A small but competitive foursome lines up for the Sky Bet Lightning Chase. The Embiricos family (of Aldaniti and Alex fame) is represented by A Hare Breath.

Naas. Race 4. 9:35. Briar Hill, a faller in December, tries to rebound in the Grade 3 Woodlands Park 100 Club Novice Chase.

Uttoxeter. Race 3. 9:45. Hey, old friend. Melodic Rendezvous aims for class relief in this handicap hurdle. The 11-year-old has banked $332,881 over a 27-race career but deserves a win after scuffling with the best.

Cheltenham. Race 6. 9:50. Warm up the coffee, sit back and enjoy the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase. It’ll take a while but it’s worth it.

Doncaster. Race 5. 10:05. Yes, Cheltenham has Thistlecrack and Un De Sceaux but don’t forget Doncaster. This Grade 2 mares’ hurdle attracts a stellar cast including Irish raider Vroum Vroum Mag, 13-for-18 in her illustrious career.

Cheltenham. Race 7. 10:25. The hits just keep coming. The Neptune Investment Management Classic Novices’ Hurdle offers $37,000 and all the clues you want for March.

Doncaster. Race 6. 10:40. The few, the proud, the handicap chasers. A cool $98,500 on the line for 16 veterans.

Cheltenham. Race 8. 11:00. Unowhatimeanharry aims to keep his win streak rolling in the Cleeve Hurdle.

Cheltenham. Race 9. 11:35. And now you can take a breath. The finale.

Kempton Park. Race 3. 1:45. Much has been made of the impending closure of Kempton Park. Remember there are two Kempton Parks. One is on the all-weather, today’s card which offers eight races for a total of $55,000, including this maiden worth $6,000 that attracts sons of Galileo and Bernardini. And one is on the turf and over jumps, like the Boxing Day card that has offered the likes of Kauto Star and Thistlecrack. 

Gulfstream Park. Race 1. 11:30. Early start to Pegasus World Cup card and 7-furlong allowance for older horses kicks things off. Bull Dozer still going strong as a 9-year-old and he seeks 21st career victory.

Gulfstream. Race 2. 12:00. Plenty of fillies with graded-stakes experience in field for 1 1/16-mile turf allowance, including Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf eighth-place finisher Sweeping Paddy, Golden Rod seventh Dream Dancing and Demoiselle sixth Elandess.

Gulfstream. Race 3. 12:30. First stakes of the day in South Florida is Grade 3 Hurricane Bertie going 7 furlongs. Curlin’s Approval and Genre were second and third, respectively, in Grade 3 Rampart last time and shorten up a bit for this spot.

Laurel Park. Race 2. 1:00. Graham Motion goes with two – Hard Catch and Sound The Horns – in 6-furlong maiden for older horses.

Gulfstream. Race 4. 1:00. Star Maven ran on well in debut for Leah Gyarmati and looks to make amends against loaded group in 3-year-old filly maiden on the grass.

Aqueduct. Race 3. 1:20. State-bred sophomores go two turns in $100,000 Gander. Haul Anchor appreciated the stretch out last time winning the Damon Runyon while Bavaro looks to make it 3-for-3 for Bill Parcells and Gary Sciacca.

Gulfstream. Race 5. 1:30. The $400,000 Poseidon Handicap brings together field of nine who were not quite ready for the prime time of the main event. Stanford might make quick work of this bunch off strong comeback race last month in Grade 3 Harlan’s Holiday. He’s one of two for Todd Pletcher, along with Madefromlucky.

Gulfstream. Race 6. 2:01. Everyone wants in on the big day. Full field of 14 for 9-furlong maiden race for 3-year-olds on the grass.

Aqueduct. Race 5. 2:20. Some of these 3-year-old New York-breds could have run in the Gander earlier on the card. Instead they land in seven-horse allowance going 1 mile.

Gulfstream. Race 7. 2:32. The $125,000 Ladies’ Turf Sprint. Pretty Perfection, Brandy’s Girl and Moon River were 1-2-3 in allowance prep while Triple Chelsea, Nite Delite and Everything Lovely were 1-2-3 in small stakes at Tampa. That group and eight others are in the field.

Tampa Bay Downs. Race 6. 2:55. Shug McGaughey unveils Gulf View, daughter of Malibu Moon who cost $300,000 last March, in 6 1/2-furlong maiden.

Gulfstream. Race 8. 3:04. The winner of this 7-furlong maiden for 3-year-olds should generate some buzz. Todd Pletcher unveils Tapit colt Blind Ambition, along with Commandeering, Shug McGaughey sends out Malibu Moon firster Eastport and Michael Tomlinson looks to improve off Lookin For Eight’s solid debut.

Santa Anita Park. Race 2. 3:15. Remember, early post in Arcadia Saturday to help the synergy with the Pegasus card, or something like that. Early stakes on the card with the $150,000 Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf Sprint.

Gulfstream. Race 9. 3:38. Smart money says if Long On Value is anywhere near his morning-line price of 12-1 for $125,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint then he’s worth a wager. Good group also includes 2015 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner Mongolian Saturday and ultra-consistent Power Alert.

Gulfstream. Race 10. 4:14. Time to go long on the grass, the Grade 3 La Prevoyante going 12 furlongs. Arles ran extremely well in her two U.S. starts and might be ready to take the next step, although familiar foe Suffused presents a formidable challenge.

Tampa Bay. Race 9. 4:25. Musical America blitzed field of maidens last time and looks to make it two straight for Arnaud Delacour and Lael Stable in 3-year-old allowance going 1 mile on the grass.

Laurel. Race 9. 4:30. My Giant ran off the TV last time in slop in his first start on dirt. Can he duplicate that effort against nine others in two-turn allowance?

Oaklawn Park. Race 6. 4:39. Boalt Hall, formerly with Todd Pletcher and now with Federico Villafranco, bids for second straight in 6-furlong allowance.

Santa Anita. Race 5. 4:50. Sircat Sally is 2-for-2 by a combined 17 lengths. She looks very tough in $200,000 California Cup Oaks for Jerry Hollendorfer.

Gulfstream. Race 11. 4:50. Second grass marathon of the day, the Grade 3 W. L. McKnight, looks like good sport for Charming Kitten to get back on track in the states after two races last summer in Ireland. Twilight Eclipse won this race in 2012 and 2013 and returns off nearly three-month freshening for 8-year-old debut.

Fair Grounds. Race 3. 5:05. Fairly even group for $50,000 Big Easy Overnight going 5 1/2 furlongs on the grass. Simple Surprise showed in her three turf starts that she likes the going – she’s won two of those races, including a stakes – and might be worth a look.

Oaklawn. Race 7. 5:09. Lawton exits three straight thirds, including one in a $150,000 restricted stakes, and short freshening for 5 1/2-furlong maiden for 3-year-olds.

Santa Anita. Race 6. 5:21. Richard’s Boy and Acceptance back with state-breds and on the dirt for $150,000 Donald Valpredo California Cup Sprint after trying Grade 3 company on the turf last time.

Oaklawn. Race 8. 5:38. Athena and Marquee Miss, one-two in allowance last time, meet again in $125,000 American Beauty. Wheatfield ships in from Sam Houston for 6-furlong feature while D. Wayne Lukas tries to get off the duck at the meet with Super Saks.

Gulfstream. Race 12. 5:40. The main event, inaugural running of $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational. A dozen owners put up $1 million last spring to buy a spot in the starting gate, including the connections of recently crowned Horse of the Year California Chrome. A win in this pushes him over the $20 million mark in career earnings, but he faces two significant obstacles in post No. 12 and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Arrogate. Speaking of Arrogate, he drew the rail and reportedly comes into the race with a small abscess. He wouldn’t be in the race if that was an issue, but … So what about the others? Noble Bird is on-again, off-again. Shaman Ghost can run with the best of them on his day. Keen Ice conquered a giant one before. Breaking Lucky also showed his quality in the Woodward and Clark last year. The rest? Well, good luck.

Santa Anita. Race 7. 6:12. Ashleyluvssugar, fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf and second in Grade 2 Hollywood Turf Cup in two most recent starts, stands out in $250,000 California Cup Turf Classic.

Penn National Race Course. Race 3. 6:54. State-bred 3-year-old fillies look to break maiden going 5 1/2 furlongs.

Santa Anita. Race 9. 7:15. Don’t overlook the Cal-bred 3-year-olds, they’re pretty strong. Coils Gold looked good breaking maiden in debut in November for Bob Baffert and California Diamond always brings it for Peter Miller. They top the $250,000 California Cup Derby, along with Ann Arbor Eddie and Tribal Storm.

Turfway Park. Race 8. 9:38. First of two maiden races to close the card is 5 1/2-furlong event led by Honey’s Tale, who makes first start outside Canada for new barn, and Travel Wish, a first-time starter by Into Mischief for Ignacio Correas IV.

Charles Town Races. Race 7. 9:49. Things didn’t go well for Trouble Kid last time – he finished seventh in the Fire Plug Stakes at Laurel – so Phil Schoenthal ships him out for 4 1/2-furlong handicap. Roman Officer, 3-for-3 at Charles Town, presents the biggest threat.

Turfway. Race 9. 10:07. Prince Hansen, son of champion Hansen owned by Dr. Kendall Hansen, should like the Polytrack after disappointing effort on dirt at Hawthorne late last month. Same for Gostisbehere, first-time starter by Gio Ponti for Charlie LoPresti. Bonus points to that 3-year-old because he’s named for Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Shane Gostisbehere (Let’s go Flyers).

Sam Houston Race Park. Race 8. 10:31. Well-matched group for 6-furlong allowance includes the Mexican-bred Moyahua, who won locally last spring, and Bret Calhoun’s Flying Cat.