The Saturday Special – Jan. 20

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The Sunshine Millions in Florida and a Derby in California highlight another busy day of racing action across the country and previewed here in The Saturday Special presented by Pin Oak Stud.

The Derby out West is the California Derby at Golden Gate Fields. Keep an eye on that one for clues for the El Camino Real Derby and maybe the Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park. Speaking of Turfway there’s racing in Northern Kentucky with a warm-up in the area expected over the weekend.

No such worries about the weather down in South Florida, with only a cloudy day on tap for the annual yet pared down Sunshine Millions card at Gulfstream Park. Four stakes for Florida-breds are set, but many feature full fields and interesting opportunities in advance of next week’s Eclipse Awards and Pegasus World Cup.

Here’s your primer for Saturday, Jan. 20. Enjoy and good luck.

Gulfstream Park. Race 1. Noon. Sunshine Millions Day starts with 7 1/2-furlong allowance on the grass.

Aqueduct. Race 2. 12:50. Preservationist looks to be another short price in 6-furlong maiden against 0-for-7 Stan The Man, firsters for Brian Lynch and Ajnadeen and a few bombs.

Tampa Bay Downs. Race 3. 1:12. The first of two 3-year-old stakes on the card is $125,000 Gasparilla for the fillies. Almond Roca won the local prep, taking the Sandpiper by 9 1/4 lengths last month for Graham Motion, and looks like the one to beat again. Shug McGaughey ships Barrier Island down from Payson Park and she deserves respect.

Aqueduct. Race 3. 1:20. Doyouknowsomething makes second start off claim for Robertino Diodoro in $100,000 Jazil. He’s 0-for-4 at Aqueduct and coming off close fourth in similar stakes late last month. Harlan Punch and Backsideofthemoon loom as the main threats.

Gulfstream. Race 4. 1:30. The featured $200,000 Sunshine Millions Classic goes early on the card with only a field of six. Catholic Cowboy, third in this race the last two seasons, is back but Mr. Jordan is the one to beat despite his winless mark in nine starts locally.

Gulfstream. Race 7. 3:00. Our Way is back off a more than five-month break to defend his title in $150,000 Sunshine Millions Turf. He won it last year after being on the shelf for three months and meets the same runner-up, Enterprising, and the 2016 winner Manchurian High.

Tampa. Race 7. 3:12. Wilkes, Stidham, Pletcher, Colebrook and Mott all with starters in 7-furlong maiden.

Aqueduct. Race 7. 3:20. Interesting collection for 1-mile allowance, including an entries for Chester and Mary Broman and Godolphin and Admiral Blue making first start for Rudy Rodriguez.

Laurel Park. Race 7. 3:30. Favorite Tale runs back in $100,000 Fire Plug on 12 days rest after winning Dave’s Friend Stakes last time. Six-furlong stakes also lures Do Share and Life In Shambles, 1-2 in the Gravesend in late December at Aqueduct; and Fabulous Strike winner Chief Lion.

Tampa. Race 8. 3:42. Horacio DePaz is off to a fast start in 2018 with four wins in first nine starts and he sends out the returning He Hate Me in $125,000 Pasco. Son of Algorithms went 2-for-2 last spring and summer, including a 3 1/4-length score in Tremont at Belmont.  

Aqueduct. Race 8. 3:50. Westwood, second in first allowance start Dec. 1, tries again in 6 1/2-furlong event against last-out maiden winners Tommy T, War Of Ideas and Wonderful Light.

Laurel. Race 8. 4:00. Fillies and mares take their turn in $100,000 What A Summer going 6 furlongs. Ms Locust Point is short price on the early line off back-to-back victories, including small stakes at the track and trip last time for John Servis.

Oaklawn Park. Race 5. 4:08. Love That Lute, who won two of five for the late Jack Van Berg, makes first start for Tom Van Berg in 1-mile allowance against 11 others. The younger Van Berg trained on his own from 1999 to 2008 when worked as assistant to his father. He’s 1-for-4 since taking over the stable.

Gulfstream. Race 10. 4:30. Starship Jubilee, winner of two graded stakes on the grass last year at Woodbine, stands out in competitive edition of $150,000 Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf.

Fair Grounds. Race 6. 4:35. Tough task to sort out Thirsty Actor, Harlan Strong, Cordero and five others – not counting those on main-track only list – in 1 1/16-mile allowance on the grass.

Tampa. Race 10. 4:50. Well Humored looks to bounce back from first defeat in Winter Memories in late November at Aqueduct in the last of the three stakes on the card, the $50,000 Wayward Lass going 1 1/16 miles on the main track for older females.

Gulfstream. Race 11. 5:00. X Y Jet ran lights out off lengthy layoff to win Grade 3 Mr. Prospector last time. He’s back for another run in $100,000 Sunshine Millions Sprint, a race he won back in 2016

Fair Grounds. Race 7. 5:05. Floroplus showed no signs of rust winning allowance in late November off 15-month layoff for Bret Calhoun. Fish Trappe Road, a former New York-bred championship contender claimed off Calhoun in late November, makes first start for Pat Dupuy in 6-furlong allowance-optional.

Oaklawn. Race 8. 5:38. The path to the Fantasy starts with the $125,000 Dixie Belle. A pair of 3-year-old fillies with two wins in as many starts – Amy’s Challenge and Minit To Stardom – take on Mia Mischief in 6-furlong feature.

Fair Grounds. Race 9. 6:03. The Lecomte was last weekend – won by Instilled Regard for Jerry Hollendorfer – but these 3-year-olds could have a say in the Risen Star or Louisiana Derby after 1-mile and 70-yard allowance.

Oaklawn. Race 9. 6:09. We mentioned unheralded sire Anthony’s Cross in last week’s edition of The Saturday Special and we’ll do it again this week thanks to the entry of Blasphemy for Ron Moquett and the Lieblongs. Moquett was high on the colt last summer and talked about him in his Fasig-Tipton Stable Tour.

Fair Grounds. Race 10. 6:34. State-bred maiden 3-year-olds go 6 furlongs in finale.

Golden Gate Fields. Race 7. 6:55. Jerry Hollendorfter sends Choo Choo north and to synthetic for $100,000 California Derby after four straight starts on the grass, including good efforts in back-to-back stakes. Kylemore also ships in from Southern California for 1 1/16-mile stakes that serves as key prep for next month’s El Camino Real Derby.

Golden Gate. Race 8. 7:27. Two-turn allowance attracts a dozen led by Sixes, winner of two straight locally; and two for Jerry Hollendorfer in Six Cider and Storminside.

Santa Anita Park. Race 7. 6:38. Beau Recall kept the best company last summer and fall, running in four consecutive Grade 1 stakes going long. Simon Callaghan shortens up Irish-bred daughter of Sir Prancealot to 6 1/2 furlongs for the Grade 3 Las Cienegas down the hill. Bendable makes her first start since Grade 2 Thoroughbred Club of America and turf debut for Richard Mandella and Claiborne Farm.

Santa Anita. Race 9. 7:42. Semper Fortis, two starts removed from last year’s $16 million Pegasus World Cup, makes turf debut going 6 1/2 down the hill in the finale for Doug O’Neill.

Turfway Park. Race 5. 8:15. Family Kitten closed well in debut going same 1-mile trip. Daughter of Kitten’s Joy should graduate tonight.

Turfway. Race 7. 9:15. Full field of 12 for 1-mile allowance. Ingadore is worth a look.

Turfway. Race 8. 9:45. Wesley Ward runs She Stays Rollin, second last time going 6 furlongs, going same trip for St. Elias Stable. Security improved on the drop to $40,000 maiden-claiming company and returns to maiden special weight ranks on synthetic for Ben Colebrook. Bet the Rice Road exacta.

Charles Town Races. Race 8. 10:19. If you’re still going strong … Lake Ponchatrain returns home for 7-furlong handicap after starts at Laurel, Mahoning Valley, Churchill and Keeneland in last four starts. She’s 8-for-18 with seven seconds and thirds at Charles Town.