The Saturday Special – Dec. 3

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Mind Control (3) makes final start of his multiple Grade 1-winning career in Saturday’s Grade 1 Cigar Mile Handicap at Aqueduct. Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO.

The holidays are here. Well, almost at least. Thanksgiving in the books and into the final month of 2022 we go.

The first Saturday in December always packs a decent punch, with the closing of Del Mar’s Bing Crosby meeting, a graded-stakes quartet at Aqueduct, jump racing overseas and plenty more to keep one occupied with avoiding things like decorating, shopping and overindulging watching the World Cup.

Since we’re ready for another big day we thought we’d bring the primer for a second straight week. There’s plenty to keep you busy before and after the U.S. men’s soccer team takes on the Netherlands in the knockout round. There’s that World Cup again.

Here’s your primer from Sean Clancy and Tom Law for Saturday, December 3. Be safe and good luck.

The Thoroughbred Racing Calendar Names of The Day
Flag Flying. Wolverhampton. Race 4. The 2-year-old is by Starspangledbanner.

Lebowski. Wolverhampton. Race 5. One of our favorite characters in one of our favorite movies.

Now And Later. Tampa Bay Downs. Race 10. The Phipps homebred is by Candy Ride out of Vagabond.

Push Button. Turfway Park. Race 6. What we’re all looking for in a horse.

With The Band. Remington Park. Race 7. It’s how we used to get in the back door at the Stone Balloon at the University of Delaware. 

The Saratoga Special Bet of The Day
We like Pleasant Man in the first at Aintree, Royal Pretender in the first at Chepstow, Learntalot in the third at Wetherby and Benson in the seventh at Aintree. Parlay and you’ve paid for Christmas.

As for the Races…
Fairyhouse. Race 1. 6:35. a.m I Am Maximus, a two-time winner in England for Nicky Henderson makes his Irish and chase debut for Willie Mullins.

Auteuil. Race 5. 8:15. Bruton Street V’s Franco De Port makes his second start in France this winter, taking on 10 rivals in the Group 2 Prix Georges Courtois Chase. Top French jockey James Reveley rode the Irish raider the last time but opts for favorite Gran Diose for Louisa Carberry.

Aintree. Race 4. 8:30. Named after a legend, the Boylesports Many Clouds Chase attracts a star-studded crowd including Chantry House, who makes his first start since pulling up in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March and Cheltenham winner Ahoy Senor, who needs to erase a 40-length drubbing at Wetherby in his seasonal return.

Sandown. Race 4. 8:45. A stellar card in the kettle at Sandown. The once-beaten Jonbon makes his second start over fences in the Grade 1 Close Brothers Henry VIII Novices’ Stakes.

Aintree. Race 5. 9:05. Grand National clues? We’ve always loved Hill Sixteen. The 10-1 shot bolsters the broth of the 23-horse Becher Chase.

Sandown. Race 5. 9:20. The once-beaten mare Love Envoi takes on nine geldings in a deep handicap hurdle.

Sandown. Race 6. 9:55. The race of the day. The Betfair Tingle Creek. Another race named after a legend, this year’s edition sends six warriors through 1 15/16 miles of chasing fury. Edwardstone, Greaneteen and Shishkin have combined to win 30 races. Nowhere to hide.

Fairyhouse. Race 7. 10:02. The Racing Post says it best, “Useful for Gordon Elliott winning Gr 1s in U.S.; unlikely he’s the force of old.” That’s the comment for Zanjabeel. The 2018 Eclipse Award winner, now 9, makes his first start since the timber race at Iroquois in 2021. Racing for Ben Griswold and Michael Browne, the 9-year-old is the longest price on the morning line in the handicap hurdle.

Aqueduct. Race 1. 11:50. Cigar Mile Day starts with 7-furlong maiden for 2-year-olds.

Gulfstream Park. Race 1. 12:10 p.m. Turf racing is back in South Florida and here’s a 1-mile maiden optional to start the day.

Tampa Bay Downs. Race 3. 1:30. Sprinters clash in the Sandpiper.

Aqueduct. Race 5. 1:46. Hero Tiger ran lights out in the slop winning the Claiming Crown Ready’s Rocket Express three weeks ago at Churchill Downs. John Kirby ships the 6-year-old gelding to New York for 7-furlong optional worth $95,000. And check out who else showed up, 2021 Wood Memorial winner Bourbonic.

Aqueduct. Race 6. 2:16. The first of four graded stakes, the Grade 2 Demoiselle for 2-year-old fillies. Julia Shining looks to win 9-furlong event for 2-year-old fillies that produced the likes of Nest, Malathaat, Wonder Gadot and Stopchargingmaria. And that’s only since 2013.

Wolverhampton. Race 5. 2:20. Grade 1 winner Outbox returns after a trip to Sweden in September. The son of Frankel clashes with King Of The South and three others in 105 handicap.

Aqueduct. Race 7. 2:44. The Grade 2 Remsen. Tuskegee Airmen brings 2-for-2 record from the Mid-Atlantic and takes on New York-breds Arctic Arrogance and Quick To Accuse and sharp maiden winner Dubyuhnell.

Laurel Park. Race 7. 2:57. Field of 11 for the $100,000 Maryland Juvenile Filly, including Maryland Million Lassie winner Chickieness and impressive maiden winner Malibu Moonshine.

Aqueduct. Race 8. 3:14. Veteran fillies and mares line up for the Grade 3 Go For Wand. One-mile stakes features Grade 3 winner Battle Bling, New York-bred champion Bank Sting and California shipper Sharapova and Dr B.

Laurel. Race 8. 3:27. Post Time and Johnyz From Albany look like standouts in the $100,000 Maryland Juvenile.

Aqueduct. Race 9. 3:43. The Cigar Mile Handicap presented by NYRA Bets, the final Grade 1 of the year in New York. Zandon already owns a Grade 1 and makes his first start since the Pennsylvania Derby against multiple Grade 1 winner Mind Control in his final start, Grade 1 winner White Abarrio and Grade 1-placed Get Her Number.

Tampa Bay Downs. Race 8. 4:05. We’ve typed it before, there is nothing like turf at Tampa. Ten juvenile fillies aim at a $27,000 purse. Godolphin, Barry K. Schwartz, MyRacehorse…Brown, Clement, Motion…Le Havre, Kitten’s Joy, Oasis Dream, Practical Joke…

Tampa Bay Downs. Race 9. 4:40. Dreaming Of Kona crushed in his debut at Presque Isle. The son of Fast Anna makes his second start and stakes debut in the Inaugural Stakes.

Tampa Bay Downs. Race 10. 5:10. See comments for Race 8. This one is for the boys.

Del Mar. Race 5. 5:30. Balanced field of 10 for the inaugural running of the $100,000 Stormy Liberal at 5 furlongs on the turf.

Woodbine. Race 9. 5:40. We always consider Stuart Simon when he ventures to Saratoga, so why not Woodbine? Take a swing with Rifling, 12-1, in the Shady Well Stakes for Ontario-bred 2-year-old fillies.

Del Mar. Race 7. 6:30. Chad Brown shipped a group west for several big stakes this weekend, including Liguria in the Grade 3 Jimmy Durante. Daughter of War Front broke her maiden narrowly last time out in her second start and is 3-1 on the line ahead of stakes competitors Sell The Dream, The bestisyettobe, Showgirl Lynne B, Ami Please, Decorated My Life and Quickly Park It.

Turfway Park. Race 7. 5:45. Mid-Atlantic shippers Sweet Souper Sweet and Dynasty Of Her Own travel for the Holiday Inaugural Stakes.

Fair Grounds. Race 8. 5:45. Racing kicked into gear in New Orleans last week and here’s the $100,000 Pan Zareta going 5 1/2 furlongs on the grass for fillies and mares.

Woodbine. Race 10. 6:10. The brother of the Shady Well, the Clarendon looks like a sweet spot for Poulin In O T, a four-time winner this year for Steve Owens.

Del Mar. Race 9. 7:30. Shug McGaughey heads west with Celestial City, winner of the Grade 2 Hill Prince last time and on the board in two tough turf stakes this summer at Saratoga, for the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby. Todd Pletcher does the same with Wit, who just missed in the Grade 3 Bryan Station and Grade 2 Hall of Fame sandwiched around his win in the Better Talk Now.