The long weekend of fireworks – on and off the track – starts now. Gulfstream hosts a plate of stakes, Belmont Park offers the Mother Goose, Prairie Meadows continues its weekend stakes festival and we even discovered action at Albuquerque and Arapahoe. Here’s your Saturday Special for the first Saturday of July.
Sandown. Race 2. 9:00. The Coral Charge, a Group 3 affair, launches 15 runners 5 furlongs up the hill at one of Britain’s best racetracks.
Haydock. Race 2. 9:15. Endless Times seeks her sixth win in her eighth start in the Bet365 Lancashire Oaks.
Sandown. Race 3. 9:35. Sadly, the concept of a handicap has lost its place in America. In Britain, it’s going strong. The Coral Challenge attracts 16 runners, ranging from 136 pounds to 112 pounds. They go a mile for $103,000.
Haydock. Race 3. 9:50. There is nothing like the stamina-laden handicap division in Britain. The Newton Cup continues the wave of dastardly betting contests with an 18-piece jigsaw puzzle.
Sandown. Race 5. 10:45. Want to know what we like about British racing? Well, lots of things, but for one, this race will run at 10:45. Sharp. You can walk the dog at 10:30, take out the trash at 10:35, prune the front hedge at 10:40, sit down and watch this race. It will be worth it. The Coral-Eclipse, a Group 1 stakes going a mile and a quarter. How strong is Ryan Moore’s book of business? He abandons Time Test, winner of the Brigadier Gerard in his most recent start to stick with The Gurkha, second in the St James’s Palace in his most recent start. Hawkbill, an American-bred son of Kitten’s Joy, seeks his sixth win in a row for Godolphin, Charlie Appleby and William Buick.
– Watch The Gurkha finish second at Royal Ascot.
Bellewstown. Race 1. 11:50. Granny Nora Clancy would be proud we included the jump card from her old track. Clarcam, another Gigginstown runner still on the go this summer, looks strong in the opener.
Gulfstream Park. Race 3. 1:15. The Cassidy kicks off a stakes-packed card in sunny south Florida.
Belmont Park. Race 1. 1:30. Wonder if the Schuylerville winner is in here? Two-year-old fillies, including debut runners for Shug McGaughey, Barclay Tagg, Leah Gyarmati and Rudy Rodriguez walk in the classroom.
Gulfstream Park. Race 4: 1:46. Long-time New York-based Cornelio Velasquez has returned to south Florida, he picks up the ride on impressive maiden winner Curlin’s Approval in the Azalea.
Gulfstream Park. Race 6. 2:49. Around here, we root for Chuck Simon. He could win the Miesque’s Approval with Xaverian, a heady claim back in 2015, or Aire Beuno, a Chilean-import who’s enjoying a good summer.
Belmont Park. Race 4. 3:04. Time for Commend to break his maiden. It will be a lot easier if entrymate, Seize, goes to Parx.
Parx. Race 6. 3:10. Seize will win here…if he goes here.
Gulfstream Park. Race 7. 3:21. The hits just keep on coming. Two-year-old colts and geldings exit maiden wins and enter the Birdonthewire.
Ellis Park. Race 5. 3:42. Welcome back to the Pea Patch. Ellis kicks off its summer stand with a decent card, including this filly and mare allowance on the turf.
Woodbine. Race 6. 3:47. The precursor to the Queen’s Plate card, Sugar Jones aims to make it 3-for-3 in the Passing Mood.
Minidoka County. Race 3. 3:50. In our history, we don’t think we’ve ever seen a smaller purse as this, $700 up for grabs. Of course, they only have to run 350 yards.
Gulfstream Park. Race 8. 3:54. Hard to get used to not seeing Stanley Gold’s name next to Jacks or Better’s runners. Awesome Banner, undefeated around one turn, should win for Mark Casse.
Woodbine. Race 8. 4:51. Chad Brown might have Flintshire, but Bill Mott has Full Mast. The Juddmonte homebred will win the King Edward Stakes.
Gulfstream Park. Race 10. 4:58. Ben Colebrook has established himself as a trainer to watch in his young career, he should win the Smile with Limousine Liberal.
Belmont Park. Race 8. 5:13. Onus is four for her last five, she could take them all the way in the Perfect Sting.
Laurel Park. Race 8. 5:16. It’s about time, Maryland has a proper summer meet. Arnaud Delacour, with a battalion of lethal turf runners, will love it. He sends out two for this allowance feature for the girls on the green.
Prairie Meadows. Race 8. 5:17. More drinks on the bar, the Iowa Sprint Handicap continues a stellar few days in Iowa.
Gulfstream Park. Race 11. 5:30. The Bob Umphrey Turf Sprint offers a rematch for the top finishers of the Bonita back in June. Matt Rispoli tries to make it three in a row on Successful Native, who slipped through to best Daring Kathy and Do The Roar in the Bonita.
Prairie Meadows. Race 9. 5:50. And that’s a wrap – the Prairie Meadows Cornhusker offers $300,000 to a country-traversing group that includes California invader Cyrus Alexander and locally-based Code West.
Belmont Park. Race 9. 5:45. There are still Saturday stakes at Belmont Park. And good ones – the Mother Goose offers a grade one chance for Lightstream, who’s undefeated in three starts for Brian Lynch (nice to not have to read ‘previously trained by’ under her name). Rachel’s Valentina tries to snap a three-race losing streak, albeit, one that spanned the Breeders’ Cup, Ashland and Kentucky Oaks.
– Watch Rachel’s Valentina win the Spinaway last summer.
Arapahoe Park. Race 8. 5:55. The allowance feature features the far-reaching breeding programs of Colorado, Louisiana, Arizona, California, Idaho and Texas. No Kentucky.
Monmouth Park. Race 11. 5:56. The Salvatore Mile highlights a strong card on the Jersey shore. Comfort leaps out of two straight allowance wins for Todd Pletcher.
Churchill Downs. Race 1. 6:00. Honorable Duty, a $130,000 Juddmonte graduate from Keeneland November, aims at his third win in a row for Brendan Walsh.
Gulfstream Park. Race 12. 6:02. The Grade 2 Princess Rooney Presented by Hardacre Farm anchors a strong summer card. Birdatthewire travels south in search of her fourth stakes win.
Santa Anita. Race 5. 6:29. The sad state of short fields in California as five line up for the Grade 3 Affirmed. And the sad state of top-heavy barns as Bob Baffert takes over Danzing Candy, beaten 20 lengths in the Kentucky Derby, for Clifford Sise.
– Watch Danzing Candy take them part of the way in the Kentucky Derby.
Churchill Downs. Race 5. 7:57. Next stop, jumping. Maidens stretch 11 furlongs on the turf.
Oak Tree at Pleasanton. Race 9. 8:23. Don’t forget Oak Tree. The Juan Gonzalez Memorial features 2-year-old fillies.
Churchill Downs. Race 7. 9:05. Two-year-olds clash in the Bashford Manor. Hall of Famer Edgar Prado travels for Recruiting Ready, a big winner at Pimlico in May.
Mountaineer Park. Race 8. 9:34. An astute claim? Eric and Kay Reed will find out here, after haltering Ready’s Rally for $5,000 in May. The son of Ready’s Image won by nearly 16 that night. He faces allowance foes here.
Churchill Downs. Race 8. 9:39. Two-year-old fillies clash in the Debutante. Next stop, Saratoga.
Hazel Park. Race 8. 10:25. If, it’s just another Saturday night and I ain’t got nobody…then bet the Lansing Stakes at Hazel Park. Five Michigan-breds will keep you company.
Churchill Downs. Race 10. 10:42. Who remembers Kelly’s Landing? One of the best. Seven-furlong sprinters try to win his race. Nobody would like to win his race more than Eddie Kenneally, who trained the freight-train sprinter. Kenneally could win it with Schivarelli, second in it last year.
Albuquerque. Race 9. 11:25. Write it and they will come. Steve Asmussen and Winchill Thoroughbreds send Adhara for the Petticoat, a $50,000 stakes for 3-year-old fillies. Bryn’s Fancy Pants, 2-for-2, waves the local flag.
Now, go to bed, the Queen’s Plate runs Sunday, fireworks and racing Monday…