The Saturday Special – April 21

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Graded stakes at Santa Anita and Keeneland, Preakness Preview Day at Laurel and a stakes-filled Charles Town Classic card top the previews in this week’s edition of The Saturday Special presented by Pin Oak Stud.

The day doesn’t rest solely on those events either, with Opening Day cards at Woodbine and Finger Lakes and other intriguing action at Aqueduct, Gulfstream, Tampa, Parx and Hawthorne. The slate is starting to get quite full for Saturdays, a much needed sign of spring.

Oh, and it’s two weeks until the Kentucky Derby if you happened to lose count.

Here’s your primer for Saturday, April 21. Take care and good luck.

Ayr. Race 1. 8:45. Today’s best jump card in the world (sorry, Middleburg) starts here with a listed handicap chase.

Ayr. Race 2: 9:20. Novice handicap chase offers $135,000. Dingo Dollar skipped Cheltenham and looks strong here. We’ve always liked Pickamix, maybe at a price…

Ayr. Race 3. 9:55. Beyond The Clouds puts his win streak on the line in the Scottish Champion Hurdle.  

Ayr. Race 4. 10:30. Mia’s Storm tries to bounce back from a December fall in the Grade 2 Future Champions Novices’ Chase. 

Ayr. Race 5. 11:05. Thirty-one line up in the Scottish Grand National.

Charles Town Races. Race 1. 12:30 p.m. Monster 13-race Charles Town Classic Day card starts with state-bred claimer for tags $4,500 to $5,000.

Gulfstream Park. Race 1. 12:40. Another Saturday, another monster 12-race card in South Florida.

Woodbine. Race 1. 1:00. Hopefully the snow stays away for Opening Day 10-race card that starts with maiden optional going 5 furlongs.

Finger Lakes. Race 1. 1:10. Lift the lid in Central New York with the first of eight straight 4 1/2-furlong races, this one a starter allowance for fillies and mares.

Aqueduct. Race 1. 1:20. Final Saturday card of the long run at the Big A starts with 1-mile state-bred allowance for fillies and mares. Belmont Park opens next Friday and Saratoga, gulp, 12 weeks later.

Charles Town. Race 3. 1:25. State-bred sophomore fillies go 4 1/2 furlongs in $50,000 Its Binn Too Long. Bound To Windsor should win off the bench.

Woodbine. Race 2. 1:33. John Cardella, the man we wrote about back in 2013 known as the “Coldwater Kid,” keeps rolling at age 87. He starts his season with two runners Saturday, including Scarlet Forester in this 5-furlong maiden claimer.

Charles Town. Race 4. 1:55. Some of the eight entered in the $35,000 Lucy’s Bob Boy actually raced against the local legend. Charitable Annuity certainly did and he could be solid in here off his runner-up second to North Atlantic in lone prep of the year.

Charles Town. Race 5. 2:21. Another stakes named for a local legend, the second edition of the $50,000 Russell Road for open company going 7 furlongs. Russell Road won 31 of 62 starts and more than $2 million, almost all at Charles Town.

Aqueduct. Race 3. 2:29. Short field of just five for $100,000 Woodhaven. The industry lost a legend this week with the passing of Giant’s Causeway. Fifty is a son of the “Iron Horse” and might be the one in his turf debut off eight-day break for Linda Rice.

Gulfstream. Race 5. 2:37. Hazit returns to Florida after last-place effort as the favorite in Grade 3 Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway and is back sprinting for 7-furlong Roar Stakes. Restricted to 3-year-olds who haven’t won a stakes, the field also includes the 2-for-2 King Humor.

Charles Town. Race 6. 2:53. The $35,000 Caixa Eletronica is named for Mike Repole’s ill-fated winner of the 2012 Charles Town Classic. The veteran Delta Bluesman is cut from a similar cloth, with 12 wins in 55 starts and appearances in some of the biggest sprint spots in the country the last few years.

Santa Anita Park. Race 1. 3:00. Richard Mandella moves Poetic, sixth in the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante last year and second in 7-furlong allowance only start this year, to the grass. Violence filly meets several turf winners in 1-mile event, including Casino Red, Classy Atlantic and Travieza.

Keeneland Race Course. Race 5. 3:18. Pendant, Phipps homebred by Bernardini out of My Flag, should appreciate the two turns of this 1 1/16-mile maiden. So should Sassy King, Winter Union and Strike The Flag.

Tampa Bay Downs. Race 6. 3:20. Bernardian, half brother to Grade 1 winner Rutherienne and Grade 3 winner Ruthenia, makes debut for owner/breeder Payson Stud and Christophe Clement in 1-mile turf maiden.

Charles Town. Race 7. 3:23. Triple Crown nominees at Charles Town? There’s one – multiple Maryland-bred stakes winner and Gotham Stakes fifth-place finisher Whereshetoldmetogo – in the $85,000 Robert Hilton Memorial. He’s not the one to beat though, that’s Midnight Poker shipping in from Parx for John Servis.

Laurel Park. Race 6. 3:40. Chalon just missed in the Grade 2 Raven Run last fall then was purchased by Lael Stable for $550,000 at Fasig-Tipton Kentucky November mixed sale. Transferred to Arnaud Delacour, daughter of Dialed In makes first start for new connections in $100,000 Primonetta going 6 furlongs. Limited View, Anna’s Bandit and Cairenn also in the field.

Woodbine. Race 6. 3:47. Archaggelos and Tale Of Vienna, first and third in last year’s Grade 3 Grey, take on Machtree and Pipers Warrior in $100,000 Wando.

Keeneland. Race 6. 3:51. First grass race of the final Saturday card of the spring meet is 1-mile maiden for 3-year-olds. Charlie LoPresti is in the midst of a strong meet and runs longshot Bartolome Murillo back in two weeks.

Charles Town. Race 8. 4:01. Older state-bred fillies and mares go two turns and 6 ½ furlongs in the $35,000 Down Town Allen, named for the 25-time winner and $1,029,387-earner.

Parx. Race 8. 4:04. Wentz, second in the Whiteley and third in Miracle Wood, returns to allowance ranks for John Servis. He meets stablemate Shane’s Jewel and first-out maiden winner Forced in 6-furlong heat.

Laurel. Race 7. 4:10. Hawksmoore won the Grade 2 New York and closed her 4-year-old season with back-to-back seconds in Grade 1 turf stakes. Irish-bred mare looks like standout against good field in $100,000 Dahlia going 1 mile on the grass.

Keeneland. Race 7. 4:24. Big field of 3-year-old fillies for 6-furlong allowance. Navajo was hammered down to 1-2 in Grade 3 Tempted last time and she finished fourth. Daughter of Union Rags is back from the rail for Tony Dutrow and Jose Ortiz.

Charles Town. Race 9. 4:33. Field of 10 state-bred 3-year-olds for the $50,000 Coin Collector. Tough group to sort out.

Laurel. Race 8. 4:40. The $125,000 Weber City Miss serves as possible prep for the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan in four weeks’ time. Layla Noor can run well on turf or dirt; this one’s on the main track and she could continue big day for Lael and Delacour.

Woodbine. Race 8. 4:53. Pink Lloyd earned the Sovereign Award as Canada’s Horse of the Year, champion older male and champion sprinter Thursday night and makes his debut in $100,000 Jacque Cartier, a race he won last year to start his 8-for-8 season for owners Entourage Stable and trainer Robert Tiller. He’s won 11 of 13 lifetime and doesn’t get a pass in 2018 debut against familiar foes Ikerrin Road, Majestic Slew and Tale Of The Nile and snowbirds Extravagant Kid and Conquest Enforcer.

Keeneland. Race 8. 4:57. One Liner put his name in the mix for the spring classics last winter with a victory in the Grade 3 Southwest then went to the sidelines. He returned with a third behind Conquest Windycity and eventual two-time Dubai Golden Shaheen winner Mind Your Biscuits. Son of Into Mischief is back to two turns for allowance that also draws Senior Investment, Closing Bell, Sticksstatelydude, Bronson and Niigon’s Edge. Many of those have done their best work on the turf, but it’s dirt in this spot.

Santa Anita. Race 5. 5:00. Sprinters look to make some noise while starts like Roy H and Mind Your Biscuits rest up from Dubai trip. Ransom The Moon finished behind those two in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint and he makes return against just four others in Grade 2 Kona Gold. Ten Blessings could be one on the rise for Bob Baffert and he makes third start off lengthy layoff while Bobby Abu Dhabi’s effort in Grade 1 Triple Bend was flattered last weekend by City Of Light in the Oaklawn Handicap.

Charles Town. Race 10. 5:04. One of our favorites from the 2013 Saratoga meet, Dance To Bristol won the Grade 2 Honorable Miss and Grade 1 Ballerina for her Mid-Atlantic connections. Now she’s a broodmare and has a $100,000 stakes named her in her honor. Shippers Frosty Margarita, Inspeightofyou, In The Navy Now, Ascertain, Keep Your Distance and Angel At War mix it up with the locals in here.

Hawthorne Race Course. Race 3. 5:06. Richie’slilwildcat, a stakes winner at Hawthorne last fall and off since a third in open Gulfstream Park allowance in early January, is the one to beat in $75,000 Pretty Jenny for Illinois-bred 3-year-old fillies.

Laurel. Race 9. 5:10. Ring Weekend still going strong at age 7 and he makes return to Laurel, where he finished third to close 2017 campaign in Grade 3 Baltimore/Washington International Turf Cup. He faces a big field in $100,000 Henry S. Clark going 1 mile on the turf, including Caribou Club, Celebration, Ghost Hunter, Phlash Phelps, Bolting and Doctor Mounty.

Keeneland. Race 9. 5:30. Itsinthepost is back from Southern California to defend title in Grade 2 Dixiana Elkhorn, against very strong field that includes last fall’s Grade 3 Sycamore winner Big Bend, Oscar Nominated, Call Provision, familiar foe Hayabusa One, Grade 1 winner Bullards Alley and Danish Dynaformer. We loved Canessar in last year’s Sycamore and he finished third. Let’s take another shot off the layoff.

Santa Anita. Race 6. 5:30. New York-bred graded stakes winner Ancient Secret is now a West Coaster and she goes from the rail in this 6 1/2-furlong allowance on the hillside turf course. Daughter of Kantharos finished close fifth last time in Mizdirection.

Charles Town. Race 11. 5:36. The featured $1.2 million Charles Town Classic goes 9 furlongs around three turns. Diversify is the standout, the winner of last year’s Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup and two New York-bred stakes. He comes off nearly five-month layoff, while Afleet Willy, War Story, Discreet Lover and Fear The Cowboy have the benefit of solid recent form.

Laurel. Race 10. 5:40. Automatic bid to the Preakness on the line in $125,000 Federico Tesio. Strong contingent of locals led by Still Having Fun, Takedown and V. I. P. Code take on shippers Noble Commander, Split Verdict, Diamond King, American Lincoln and Holland Park.

Aqueduct. Race 9. 5:49. Grade 2 winner Pure Silver earned champion New York-bred 2-year-old filly honors last week and she’s set for 2018 debut in $100,000 Park Avenue division of New York Stallion Stakes for Twin Creeks Racing, Todd Pletcher and John Velazquez.

Gulfstream. Race 11. 5:56. The 3-year-old fillies get their chance in restricted $75,000 Game Face.

Keeneland. Race 10. 6:03. Don’t dash off to West Sixth just yet, the finale is good 6-furlong maiden for 3-year-olds.

Santa Anita. Race 8. 6:30. Nine line up for Grade 3 American, including the veteran What A View. He looks for first win since last May against field that also includes Colonist, Blackjackcat, Sawyer’s Hill and Kenjisstorm.