The Saturday Special – July 2

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Olympiad looks tough in Saturday’s Grade 2 Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs. Coady Photography.

Who’s ready for the holiday weekend? How about Saratoga? Or Del Mar? Like it or not they’re here, or almost here, as we turn the page to the second half of 2022.

Whew, where did the first half of the year go? Remember the Dubai World Cup, Triple Crown and spring steeplechase season? Yeah, they seem like a blur to us, too.

We’re revving up at our ST Publishing outposts for the 2022 Saratoga meeting and the 22nd season of The Saratoga Special. Issue 1 drops in less than two weeks and stay tuned for some news about our Special Reader’s Club and more things to look forward to this summer.

In the meantime, there’s a busy weekend on tap as the Independence Day holiday kicks into gear. Have fun, be safe and stay in touch.

By the Numbers
4: Engraved Kentucky Derby trophies that will be handed out Saturday at Churchill Downs to owner Rick Dawson, trainer Eric Reed, jockey Sonny Leon and breeder Calumet Farm.

4: Winners of the Stephen Foster during their Horse of the Year campaigns – Black Tie Affair (1991), Sain Liam (2005), Curlin (2008) and Gun Runner (2017). Two other Foster runner-ups were crowned Horse of the Year – Mineshaft (2003) and Wise Dan (2012).

1.6 million: Dollars of increased purse money earmarked for the Saratoga meet that opens July 14.

Riverdee Stable’s Names of the Day
Life Is Good. Belmont Park. Race 4. Surely, we’ve included this one before but worth another mention. The Grade 1 winner is by Into Mischief and out of Beach Walk.

Breakwater. Belmont Park. Race 5. The 3-year-old is by Flatter out of Quiet Harbor.

Tubman. Churchill Downs. Race 4. The 3-year-old filly is by American Freedom out of Fine Instincts.

Double Clutch. Race 7. We’ve all done it. The Calumet homebred is out of Switching Gears. 

The Join the Saratoga Special Readers Club Play of the Day
Haydock. Race 2. 9:05 a.m. Start the day off right and get a price on Percy Jones in this competitive handicap.

Save the Date
Nominations are open now for the Thoroughbred Industry Employee Awards and close on Friday, July 15th. This program is a wonderful way to reward and recognize your hard-working staff, peers, friends, family, etc. who are so passionate about our industry. 

There are seven award categories in which to nominate, and all nominees will receive certificates in the mail letting them know they have been nominated to the program and who nominated them.

First judging panel will meet Friday, July 29 in Saratoga Springs and finalists will be announced the first week of August. 

NYRA, Hall of Fame to honor Peb
The New York Racing Association and National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame will highlight the career and accomplishments of the renowned cartoonist Pierre “Peb” Bellocq during a ceremony July 9 at Belmont Park as part of the Stars and Stripes Racing Festival.

In 2020, Bellocq was selected to be a member of the National Museum of Racing’s Joe Hirsch Media Roll of Honor. Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021, NYRA and the Racing Museum have yet to hold a public event to commemorate this honor.

NYRA and the National Museum of Racing will honor Peb’s contributions in a variety of ways including a race named in his honor followed by a winner’s circle ceremony featuring Bellocq alongside family and friends.

“The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame would like to thank NYRA for generously offering to host this wonderful day in honor of Peb, whose art and humor have captured the unique and vibrant characters and scenes of thoroughbred racing for generations,” said Brien Bouyea, Communications Director at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. “The racing world owes Peb a great deal of gratitude for his lifetime of distinguished work that has brought so much joy to the sport.”

Bellocq, 95, was born in France in 1926. At age 19, the French racing journal France Courses gave him national exposure by publishing one of his cartoons of a jockey. Bellocq signed the drawing as “Peb,” a signature that became his lifelong moniker.

Worth Repeating
“We would like to have a prep before the Whitney and this seemed like the logical place.”
Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher on running Life Is Good in Saturday’s Grade 2 John A. Nerud at Belmont Park

“You don’t want to get in his way. He’s a horse that needs to be allowed to run a little bit.”
Trainer John Terranova on Dwyer contender Fluid Situation’s early speed

Handicapper’s Corner
The handicappers are ready for Saratoga, but we have two strong weekends before lifting the lid on the Spa meeting. We’ll start with Stephen Foster Day at Churchill Downs, which rolls out a six-pack of stakes to get the holiday weekend into gear. Here’s hoping for some winners and that you’re not crying into your empty six pack by the time the Fireworks go off Monday night.

The picks for Saturday, July 2 at Churchill Downs. Good luck.

John Shapazian (59/247):
1-Boxster, Cigarette Boat, Mr Bingo.
2-Special Reserve, Hollis, Necker Island.
3-Frosted Departure, Macho Villa, Easy Big Boy.
4-Gunning, Dreamalot, Romance Novel.
5-Mendenhall, Spankster, Sacred Samurai.
6-Wicked Halo, Heartyconstitution, Patna.
7-Double Clutch, Mclaren Vale, Red Run.
8-Super Quick, Ava’s Grace, Pauline’s Pearl.
9-Aloha West, Bango, Miles Ahead.
10-Americanrevolution, Mandaloun, Last Samurai.
11-Millefeuille, Altered Shot, Sterling Miss.
12-Greatheart, Curbstone, Southern Passage.

Tom Law (63/247):
1-Hallow Point, Boxster, Mr Bingo.
2-Special Reserve, Necker Island, Long Range Toddy.
3-Frosted Departure, Macho Villa, Nak Nak Bolt.
4-Tubman, Gunning, Romance Novel.
5- Mendenhall, Swing Shift, Patient Capital.
6-Wicked Halo, Patna, Verylittlecents.
7-Rattle N Roll, Kuchar, Red Run.
8-Super Quick, Shedaresthedevil, Pauline’s Pearl.
9-Aloha West, Bango, Miles Ahead.
10-Olympiad, Americanrevolution, Mandaloun.
11-Millefeuille, Honorifique, Altered Shot.
12-Alejandro, Curbstone, Greatheart.

Charles Bedard (56/247):
1-Boxster, Cigarette Boat, Saburo’s Grace.
2-Special Reserve, Robo Man, Hollis.
3-Easy Big Boy, He’s A Good Dancer, Confidence Game.
4-Gunning, Dreamalot, Amaryllis Kiss.
5-Sacred Samurai, Spankster, Prayforpeace.
6-Heartyconstitution, Wicked Halo, Runaway Wife.
7-Kuchar, O P Firecracker, Search Engine.
8-Shedaresthedevil, Pauline’s Pearl, Super Quick.
9-Aloha West, Miles Ahead, Startdfromdabottom.
10-Mandaloun, Olympiad, Proxy.
11-Millefeuille, Altered Shot, Sterling Miss.
12-Alejandro, Greatheart, Southern Passage.

Rob Whitlock (55/247):
1-Boxster, Hallow Point, Mo’s Treasure.
2-Special Reserve, Robo Man, Necker Island.
3- Damon’s Mound, Easy Big Boy, Mayfield Strong.
4- Dreamalot, Tubman, Please Be Kind.
5- Mendenhall, Patient Capital, Let My People Go.
6-Wicked Halo, Heartyconstitution, Patna.
7-Rattle N Roll, McLaren Vale, O P Firecracker
8-Pauline’s Pearl, Shedaresthedevil, Super Quick.
9-Miles Ahead, Bango, Aloha West.
10-Olympiad, Americanrevolution, Title Ready.
11-Millefeuille, Altered Shot, Honorifique.
12-Keepcalmcarryon, Alejandro, Southern Passage.

Jessica Paquette (55/247):
1-Hallow Point, Hill Of Tara, Boxster.
2-Necker Island, Special Reserve, Manny Wah.
3-Damon’s Mound, Frosted Departure, Easy Big Boy.
4-Tubman, Gunning, Dreamalot.
5-Mendenhall, Sacred Samurai, Patient Capital.
6-Patna, Heartconstitution, Wicked Halo.
7-Red Run, McLaren Vale, Search Engine.
8-Pauline’s Pearl, Shedaresthedevil, Ava’s Grace.
9-Aloha West, Awesome Gerry, Bango.
10-Olympiad, Proxy, Caddo River.
11-Lindalevesolta, Regal Retort, Millefeuille.
12-Greatheart, Alejandro, Southern Passage.

As for the races …
Naas. Race 1. 8:25 a.m.
Two-year-old fillies start the day.

Haydock. Race 2. 9:05. Fifteen 3-year-olds stretch 1 3/4 mile in a handicap puzzler. We like Percy Jones.

Haydock. Race 3. 9:40. Group 2 winner Free Wind makes her 4-year-old debut in the Lancashire Oaks.

Sandown. Race 3. 10:00. Stakes action starts here on a stellar card. Grande Dame got thumped in the Coronation Stakes and needs to bounce back to deal with the undefeated Heredia.

Haydock. Race 4. 10:15. Gaassee rides a four-race win streak into the Old Newton Cup.

Sandown. Race 4. 10:35. Well there it is in cold, hard print. James Doyle takes over from Frankie Dettori aboard the blindfold-fiascoed Lord North in the Group 1 Coral Eclipse. Bay Bridge, Native Trail, Mishriff, Vadeni…wow, what a race.

Delaware Park. Race 1. 12:30 p.m. Delaware Oaks Day kicks off with 1-mile and 70-yard starter optional on the dirt.

Gulfstream Park. Race 1. 12:30. Summit of Speed Day starts with a 5-furlong maiden for 2-year-olds.

Bellewstown. Race 3. 12:35. Granny Nora would love this one, 16 line up in a competitive handicap hurdle at her local track.

Churchill Downs. Race 1. 12:45. Stephen Foster Day – there are a lot of “XYZ Day” days Saturday – kicks off with $120,000 6-furlong maiden for 2-year-olds.

Belmont Park. Race 1. 1:00. Field of eight 2-year-old maiden fillies open the card.

Churchill. Race 2. 1:16. Special Reserve, last year’s National HBPA Claimer of the Year and multiple graded stakes winner, makes 2022 debut in stakes-quality $148,000 allowance at 5 1/2 furlongs.

Delaware. Race 4. 2:00. The $100,000 Alapocas Run, the first of four stakes on the day, looks like a good spot for Grade 3 winner Drafted.

Monmouth Park. Race 5. 2:07. Club Car ships in from Keeneland for the $100,000 Regret, which also attracts Edie Meeny Miny Mo (also entered in the Caesar’s Wish later at Laurel, see below), Oxana and Liberated Lady.

Delaware. Race 5. 2:30. Move to the grass for the $100,000 Christiana for 3-year-old fillies. Graham Motion and Christophe Clement each entered three, while Chad Brown sends out Lay The Groundwork from his Monmouth base.

Belmont. Race 4. 2:34. Life Is Good shortens up to 7 furlongs for his return in the Grade 2 John A. Nerud. Named for one of the all-time greats, the Nerud also attracts Speaker’s Corner off his third behind Flightline and Happy Saver in the Met Mile. The other three? Good luck. What a treat.

Delaware. Race 6. 3:00. Solid field of eight for the featured Grade 3 Delaware Oaks, including stakes winners Shotgun Hottie, Midnight Stroll, Morning Matcha and Sandstone, along with the 2-for-2 Republique.

Churchill. Race 6. 3:23. The $200,000 Tepin, named for soon-to-be Hall of Fame turf mare, goes at 1 mile on the dirt while the grass course goes through its second stoppage.

Delaware. Race 7. 3:30. Back to the grass for the final stakes of the day, the Grade 3 Kent for 3-year-olds. Possibly get some clues for the upcoming Hall of Fame Stakes at Saratoga.

Gulfstream. Race 7. 3:44. The Grade 3 Smile Sprint Invitational starts the stakes portion of the day. Grade 1 winner Drain The Clock, off since finishing fifth in the Grade 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen March 26, makes his return and looks for his fifth win in seven starts in Hallandale Beach.

Churchill. Race 7. 3:55. Another former turf stakes, and one that used to be run at the shuttered Arlington Park, here’s the $200,000 American Derby at 1 1/16 miles on the main track. Grade 1 winner Rattle N Roll looks for his first victory of 2022 off good third in the Grade 3 Matt Winn.

Woodbine. Race 7. 4:16. The Grade 3 Selene leads off the day’s four stakes in Toronto. Jonathan Thomas ships Catiche north while Graham Motion does the same with European import Gizala.

Laurel Park. Race 8. 4:23. The Grass Is Blue won her first start for Graham Motion and tries to do it again against seven others in the $100,000 Caesar’s Wish at 1 mile.

Churchill. Race 8. 4:35. Super Quick ran lights out in the Grade 3 Allaire duPont on Preakness weekend and tries to keep things rolling on the front end in the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis against the likes of Shedaresthedevil and Pauline’s Pearl.

Belmont. Race 8. 4:38. Six aspiring 3-year-olds led by Charge It look to make some noise the second half of 2022 starting here in the Grade 3 Dwyer. Charge It followed up his second in the Florida Derby with a 17th in the Kentucky Derby. Any return to his prior efforts makes him the one to beat against Nabokov and four others.

Woodbine. Race 8. 4:48. Lady Speightspeare picked up a Grade 1 placing this spring at Keeneland and returns home with her 3-for-3 record locally on the grass for the Grade 2 Nassau. She meets a strong group here for $175,000, including Plum Ali, Crystal Cliffs, Our Flash Drive and Dreaming Of Drew.

Laurel. Race 9. 4:57. Old Homestead, dealt his first defeat in the Grade 3 Chick Lang, looks to get back on track in the $100,000 Concern. Good field also includes Scaramouche, Alottahope, Defend and Nimitz Class.

Churchill. Race 9. 5:16. Aloha West returns to more favorable trip in the $160,000 Kelly’s Landing Overnight. A good run here and hopefully we’ll see him at Saratoga in the Vanderbilt and Forego.

Woodbine. Race 9. 5:20. Irostone, Allegorical, Rondure, Duke Of Love and Lac Macaza look to stay on track for the Queen’s Plate and venture into open company here in the Grade 3 Marine Stakes.

Gulfstream. Race 10. 5:20. Champion Ce Ce returns to defend her title in the Grade 2 Princess Rooney Invitational. Third last time out going long in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom, 6-year-old Elusive Quality mare buts back to more favored 7-furlong trip and meets quality opposition in New York-bred stakes winner Make Mischief, Grade 2 winner Glass Ceiling and the 3-for-4 Spirit Wind.

Churchill. Race 10. 5:47. The featured Grade 2 Stephen Foster. Olympiad puts his unbeaten 2022 mark on the line against adjudged 2021 Kentucky Derby winner Mandaloun, Grade 1 winner Americanrevolution, Proxy, Caddo River and others.

Woodbine. Race 10. 5:52. Team Casse could be busy saddling five here in the Grade 2 Highlander going 6 furlongs on the grass. Tap It To Win might give them the best chance here against shippers Voodoo Zip and Bound For Nowhere and defending champ Silent Poet.

Pleasanton. Race 7. 7:49. Nine fillies and mares entered for the $75,000 Oak Tree Sprint, including the comebacking Howbeit, Albany runner-up Carolina Mia and Lost In The Fog winner Ultimate Bango.

Evangeline Downs. Race 7. 9:13. Before John Henry became John Henry he raced at Evangeline, including a victory in the 1977 Lafayette Futurity in his seventh start. Here’s a $60,000 stakes named in his honor, going 1 1/16 miles on the grass.