The Saturday Special – Dec. 22

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The final Saturday before Christmas brings another light slate of racing here in the U.S. – just a single graded stakes to go with a six-pack of stakes at Fair Grounds – with everyone settling in for an extended Christmas weekend.

The lone graded stakes of the day is the Grade 3 Mr. Prospector at Gulfstream Park. There’s a smattering of other races of interest around the country, from Aqueduct to Laurel.

Here’s your primer for Saturday, Dec. 22. Take care, good luck and Merry Christmas.

Gulfstream Park. Race 2. 12:30 p.m. Dull Knife makes U.S. debut for Todd Pletcher in 1 1/16-mile turf allowance for 2-year-olds that also draws Grade 3 With Anticipation third Joyful Heart.

Gulfstream. Race 3. 1:00. Tapit’s Princess brought $500,000 at Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream sale in March. Daughter of Tapit makes debut against five opponents in 5 1/2-furlong maiden for Happy Alter.

Aqueduct. Race 3. 1:18. Power Gal, a 2-year-old daughter of Empire Maker bred in Japan, broke her maiden off layoff and takes next step up in optional claimer for Mark Casse and Gary Barber going 6 furlongs.

Laurel Park. Race 3. 1:24. Limited View makes rare non-stakes appearance in 6-furlong optional. She’s run in nine straight and looks to end five-race skid dating back to March.

Fair Grounds. Race 1. 1:30. Monster 14-race card starts with two-turn optional claimer for 2-year-olds.

Fair Grounds. Race 3. 2:26. First stakes is the $75,000 Bonapaw going 5 1/2 furlongs on the grass. Multiple graded stakes winner Switzerland is entered, for a change of scenery or hoping for rain?

Aqueduct. Race 6. 2:47. New York freshman sire Central Banker could add another winner with Centennial Banker, a $110,000 Saratoga yearling who debuts for Steve Asmussen and owners Alex and JoAnn Lieblong.

Fair Grounds. Race 4. 2:55. Gun It, son of Tapit who cost $2.6 million at last year’s Keeneland September sale, tries to improve off fourth in similar late October 1 1/16-mile maiden in debut at Churchill Downs.

Aqueduct. Race 7. 3:17. Bulky field of 13 for 6-furlong state-bred allowance.

Gulfstream. Race 8. 3:34. Jimmy Toner tries again in 5-furlong turf maiden with Tap Tap Taparoo, daughter of Tapit he said during his Fasig-Tipton Stable Tour would fare better going short.

Aqueduct. Race 8. 3:47. Name Changer, winner of Grade 3 Monmouth Cup two starts back and third in stakes at Parx last time, is favored over nine others in $125,000 Queens County going 9 furlongs.

Gulfstream. Race 9. 4:05. Zennor tried rare feat of winning back-to-back starts in the same stakes race – the Lure at Saratoga in 2017 (win) and 2018 (sixth). He exits good race on the grass at Belmont and should be tough in 1-mile optional that also draws 2017 Hall of Fame Stakes winner Bricks And Mortar.

Fair Grounds. Race 7. 4:24. Unholy Alliance brings 2-for-2 mark into $75,000 Letellier Memorial. She’s one of four 2-year-old fillies with multiple wins in 6-furlong stakes, along with Bell’s The One, Smila’ssenseofsnow, Adventurous Lady and Lady T N T.

Gulfstream. Race 10. 4:36. Coal Front, a disappointing fifth in comeback effort in the Grade 3 Bold Ruler at Aqueduct Nov. 2, tries again from outside post in Grade 3 Mr. Prospector.

Fair Grounds. Race 8. 4:53. Fillies and mares go to the grass for $75,000 Blushing K.D.

Fair Grounds. Race 9. 5:22. Tom’s d’Etat looks like standout in $75,000 Tenacious. He’s 5-for-8 lifetime but with only one start since late July 2017.

Fair Grounds. Race 10. 5:51. Big Changes saw five-race win streak end in Grade 3 River City last time. Brad Cox trainee should find company a bit more favorable in $75,000 Buddy Diliberto Memorial going 1 1/16-miles on the grass.

Fair Grounds. Race 11. 6:20. A little more than a week out from the actual game is the $75,000 Sugar Bowl Stakes for 2-year-olds going 6 furlongs.