The Saturday Special – January 7

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Arctic Arrogance, winner of the Sleepy Hollow on Empire Showcase Day, heads back into open company in Saturday’s Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct. NYRA Photo.

Happy New Year and welcome back to The Special for 2023.

We took a bit of a hiatus for the holiday season, with spotty appearances here and there but we’re back with another big weekend of racing. We’ll kick things off with some of the favorites, and catch up one some news from 2022.

Here’s to a great year and believe it or not, just a little more than six months until Opening Day at Saratoga and Season 23 of The Saratoga Special.

Names of the Day presented by Thoroughbred Racing Calendar
Please Be Nice. Aqueduct. Race 2. Contrary to his stallion, Violence, this is a good message for all of us.

Fenway. Aqueduct. Race 3. Thinking of summer afternoons.

Hop And Scotch. Laurel Park. Race 3. The 3-year-old colt is by Hoppertunity out of Contradance.

Stalking. Laurel Park. Race 5. The Maryland-bred is out of Lookin For Me.

By the Numbers
16,343,067: Dollars in North American earnings for Godolphin in 2022, tops among all owners for the second straight year and down from its single-season record of $17.4 million set in 2021.

41,446: Opening Day attendance at Santa Anita Park Dec. 26.

26,315,016: Dollars on handle Monday at Santa Anita, a record for Opening Day and increase of 35 percent over last year’s opener.

159: Wins on the NYRA circuit in 2022 for Chad Brown, the most for any trainer and a career best.

57: Wins for Seth Klarman’s Klaravich Stables in 2022 at NYRA tracks, enough to secure a fourth straight year-end owner’s title.

186: Wins by Dylan Davis on the NYRA circuit in 2022, the most for any rider and a first title for the 28-year-old.

12,108,807,335: Total dollars in wagering on U.S. races in 2022, down .87 percent from last year.

1,309,837,841: Total dollars in purses in 2022, an increase of 10.92 percent from 2021.

7.3: Average field size in 2022, down 1 percent from 7.37 in 2021.

2,321,863,828: Dollars in all-sources handle for meets at Aqueduct, Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course, according to the New York Racing Association.

291,438,542: On-track handle in dollars at NYRA tracks, including New York residents wagering through NYRA Bets, in 2022 and a 9.2 percent increase from the 2021 total of $266,978,634.

Worth Repeating
“It feels great. I’m grateful and honored and couldn’t have done it without the horses, the trainers, the owners, my agent Mike [Migliore]. We’ve been working hard and sticking it out on the NYRA circuit. Everything is coming together and we’re just going to push on and try for a better year next year.”
Dylan Davis, NYRA’s leading jockey in 2022

“It’s good that here in the dead of winter in New York we’re getting big fields. That’s a positive thing.”
Dave Lyon, managing partner of the Blue Lion Thoroughbreds operation that sents out Morello against 11 others in the $135,000 Gravesend at Aqueduct

“Thirty-five years went like a flash. I’ve got to make these last 12 months the best that I can and enjoy it. Most of all I’ve had a great career, and this is where it all started, and this is where it will finish.”
Jockey Frankie Dettori, after guiding Country Grammar to win in Monday’s Grade 2 San Antonio to kick off his retirement/farewell tour

“Thoroughbred racing purses and pari-mutuel handle continued to exhibit strength in 2022. Purses were up double-digits year-over year and reached an all-time high thanks in part to contributions from other gaming sources. Pari-mutuel handle was nearly equal to 2021 and the second highest since 2009. These business trends occurred during a year of unprecedented growth in legal, state regulated sports betting. The 2023 gaming landscape promises to be more competitive than ever for the sports wagering dollar. It also represents a huge opportunity to introduce pari-mutuel wagering and the sport of Thoroughbred racing to a vast new audience if we as an industry embrace the challenge.” 
NTRA President and CEO Tom Rooney after year-end statistics showed a slight dip in wagering on U.S. races in 2022

As for the races …
Pau. Race 1. 5:53 a.m.
Start the weekend with a skip around the cross-country course.

Sandown. Race 2. 7:40. The once-beaten Love Envoi takes on four rivals, including eight-time winner Martello Sky in this listed mares’ hurdle.

Newcastle. Race 2. 7:48. Ten-time winner Tommy’s Oscar switches back to hurdles after a folly against Constitution Hill in the Fighting Fifth. He meets two foes in this novice chase.

Wincanton. Race 3. 8:30. Hey, Richard, who do you like and who’s taking money in the Virgin Bet Handicap Chase?

Sandown. Race 5. 9:25. The race of the day. The Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle. Arctic Bresil and Rachael Blackmore invade from Ireland. The once-beaten Tahmuras holds the flag for England.

Sandown. Race 6. 10:00. One of the best additions to any racing calendar, the veterans’ chase attracts 18 of the wiliest kind. They’ve combined to win 124 races. A forest full of teak.

Santa Anita Park. Race 1. 3:00. Cal Cup Day starts with the $150,000 Don Valpredo California Cup Sprint.

Gulfstream Park. Race 7. 3:11. Major Dude, ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf after winning the Grade 2 Pilgrim, makes 2023 debut in the $100,000 Dania Beach at 1 mile on the grass. Interesting field also includes European import Souzak, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile third Congruent and Worthington and Candidate, each the winners of their last two on the grass.

Turfway Park. Race 6. 3:15. A half-dozen for the $125,000 Turfway Prevue, including the 12-start Accident and 10-start Prove Right, along with the first-time starter Scoobie Quando.

Fair Grounds. Race 3. 3:15. Ova Charged, whose only blemish in eight starts was a second in the Grade 3 Victory Ride at Belmont Park, looms large in the $75,000 Bob F. Wright Memorial for Louisiana-bred fillies and mares.

Aqueduct. Race 8. 3:16. Never too soon to think Triple Crown. The $150,000 Jerome starts things off for the 3-year-olds in New York. Arctic Arrogance, the likely New York-bred champion 2-year-old male of 2022, comes off second in the Grade 2 Remsen and meets the likes of Lugan Knight, Neural Network, Andiamo A Firenze and General Banker.

Aqueduct. Race 9. 3:45. The $150,000 Queens County, redrawn after being scrapped last weekend because of fog, attracts field of 11 including Woodward runner-up Law Professor, Discovery winner Eloquist and 2021 longshot Wood Memorial winner Bourbonic.

Gulfstream. Race 9. 4:10. Sophomore fillies take their turn in the $100,000 Ginger Brew at 1 mile on the grass. Field of nine includes Cairo Consort, third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf and making her first start for Todd Pletcher; and European import Anna Karenine, who goes for Chad Brown.

Tampa Bay Downs. Race 9. 4:35. We’ve written it many times in this space. Nothing quite like a Tampa turf maiden. Motion, Clement, Brown, Albertrani, Terranova, Harty and others with runners in 1-mile event for $27,000.

Gulfstream. Race 10. 4:39. Optional at 1 mile on the main track marks the return of Pappacap, winner of the Grade 2 Best Pal in 2021 and placed in three graded stakes last season for Mark Casse.

Oaklawn Park. Race 8. 4:53. Keystone Field and Tiz Rye Time, 1-4 in the Claiming Crown Jewel in early November at Churchill, meet again in 1 1/16-mile optional worth $106,000. The former exits a good second in similar spot last month. Others in the field include Open Road and Silver Dust, still going strong at age 9.

Gulfstream. Race 11. 5:09. Finish off the day with a 7 1/2-furlong maiden on the grass for 3-year-olds.

Oaklawn. Race 9. 5:22. Ten line up for the $150,000 Pippin for fillies and mares.

Santa Anita. Race 6. 5:30. You have to love the downhill turf course. Here’s the $150,000 Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Sprint Stakes presented by John Deere.

Fair Grounds. Race 8. 5:45. Who Took The Money returns to the grass for the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Turf, rescheduled from December 10. He’s won two of three on the turf for Bret Calhoun, including a victory almost a year ago exactly on the course.

Santa Anita. Race 7. 6:00. Proven multiple stakes winners Passarando and Giver Not A Taker meet in the $200,000 California Cup Derby.

Fair Grounds. Race 9. 6:15. The $75,000 Gary P. Palmisano Memorial, named for the late trainer and former paddock judge at Fair Grounds who passed away last December.

Santa Anita. Race 8. 6:30. Back to the grass for the $200,000 Leigh Ann Howard California Cup Oaks for 3-year-old fillies.

Santa Anita. Race 10. 7:30. Aligato returns to defend title in $200,000 Unusual Heat Turf Classic Stakes presented by City National Bank. Things got a touch easier with the scratch of The Chosen Vron, but he still must contend with the streaking Doc Adams and Carmelita’s Man.