Yes, there is life – at least, racing – outside Churchill Downs Saturday. Here’s a quick tour around the world, from the Two Thousand Guineas in England to allowance races at Penn National.
Newmarket. First Race. 9:05 a.m. Farraaj, winner of the 2013 Winter derby, makes second start of 2014 for Roger Varian.
Newmarket. Second Race. 9:40. The Palace House Stakes. Moviest, a son of Hard Spun, makes 4-year-old debut after winning Group 2 King George Stakes at Goodwood last summer. Pearl Secret, 5-for-7 in his career and Sole Power, 7-for-39, stand in the way.
Newmarket. Third Race. 10:10. Veteran Joshua Tree continues to trot the globe – 7-year-old has traveled to Japan, Dubai and France since last running in Britain. He takes on a tough field in the Group 2 Jockey Club Stakes. Trading Leather won the Irish Derby and hit the board three times in Group 1 competition last year.
Newmarket. The Qipco Two Thousand Guineas. 10:50. Wow, what a race. No matter where you are, stop and watch this classic between Coolmore’s Australia, the undefeated Kingman for Juddmonte and Gosden, the undefeated Kingston Hill who won the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy last year for Paul Smith and Roger Varian and the undefeated Toormore for Hannnon and Middleham Park. Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner Outstrip makes his 3-year-old debut for Godolphin and Charlie Appleby. America is represented by Bookrunner, a son of Tiznow, for John Gunther and the American-bred War Command for Coolmore and Aidan O’Brien. Derby? What Derby.
Thirsk. Sixth Race. 11:50. Tacticus, a son of A.P. Indy and Visions Of Clarity, makes debut for Lady Cecil and the Niarchos Family.
Belmont Park. Third Race. 1:08 p.m. Strong allowance race attracts Gotham News, Abraham (who makes first start for Bill Mott since leaving Todd Pletcher’s barn), Elnaawi and Catron.
Pimlico. Third Race. 1:45. Ah, this is why Wesley Ward didn’t want to run Pablo Del Monte in the Derby … jockey Jeffrey Sanchez needed to go to Maryland to ride Sarlef. Ward also entered Mercer Mill Mae for his standard raid of the 2-year-old races.
Belmont Park. Seventh Race. 3:36. High-octane first-time starters The Sandman and Bay Of Biscay take on the likes of The Big Beast for Alex Solis and Tony Dutrow.
Santa Anita. Fourth Race. 4:00. Irish-bred of the Day. Home School (Ire) makes his first start since the Breeders’ Cup.
Belmont Park. Eighth Race. 4:20. Saratoga star Assateague makes her 2014 debut in the Beaugay. Chad Brown counters with Waterway Run, second in her first two stateside starts.
Gulfstream Park. Seventh Race. 4:31. Brushwood Stable’s homebred Philly Ace makes second start of 2014 while seven-time winner Monument Hill tries to win his second race of the year for Shamrock Farm and George Weaver. Bad Debt, winner of $723,140, drops in for a $100,000 tag.
Woodbine. Eighth Race. 4:49. The Ballade Stakes. John Unger’s Strut The Course has never finished worse than fourth in nine tries.
Pimlico. Ninth Race. 5:00. Sheppard, Motion, Boniface, Murray, Hammon on the turf.
Pimlico. Tenth Race. 5:31. Trainer Tim Keefe returns Wonderful Secret to the races, she rides a three-race win streak and a 15-month layoff.
Belmont Park. Tenth Race. 5:48. The Fort Marcy at a mile and a quarter on the turf. Solis picks up the ride on Summer Front. Ghurair makes U.S. debut for Shadwell and Chad Brown. Yes, Chad Brown, training for Shadwell. Irish-bred Speaking Of Which aims for win number three since emigrating. And check out Manighar, the French-bred, Australian-raced 8-year-old makes debut for Christophe Clement. Julian Pimentel gets the call. It’s opportunity day for the jockeys as Kendrick Carmouche picks up the ride aboard Sky Blazer.
Gulfstream Park. Ninth Race. 5:33. Not the first choice, Social Inclusion and four other Triple Crown nominees square off in the Sir Bear. The winner is thinking about the Preakness.
Suffolk Downs. Eighth Race. 5:38. Starter allowance highlights Suffolk’s opening day. Veteran Khan Of Khans goes for win number 16 while veteran Classic Speed goes for win number 12.
Arlington Park. Tenth Race. 6:10. Our man Sheldon Russell moved his tack to Arlington for the summer, the Maryland-based jockey picks up Silver Rocket Man in the feature.
Santa Anita. Tenth Race. 7:00. Joe Talamo, Mario Gutierrez, Rafael Bejarano and others will watch the Derby, then go ride the Grade 3 Precisionist.
Penn National. Fourth Race. 7:49. If you haven’t had enough racing, Penn offers a nice allowance race which includes two-time stakes winner Uptown Boy for Thomas McClay and Bernie Houghton and Dagburnit, who rides a three-race win streak for Eileen Hartis and Jonathan Sheppard.