The Saturday Special – July 8

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Who says the best racing starts in late July? Consider July 8, when Belmont Park, Arlington Park and Delaware Park roll out strong stakes-laden cards previewed in the latest edition of The Saturday Special presented by Pin Oak Stud.

And we didn’t even mention life after Royal Ascot at Sandown, Los Alamitos, Evangeline Downs and Prairie Meadows, which also present top races and cards to keep everyone busy as the countdown to Del Mar and Saratoga ticks down. If you’re scoring at home it’s less than two weeks for both – Del Mar opens July 19 and Saratoga two days later.

First things first, however, and here’s your primer for Saturday, July 8. Take care and good luck.

Naas. Race 1. 8:35 a.m. Seahenge cost $750,000 at Keeneland September. The son of Scat Daddy makes his debut for Coolmore here. The purse? $17,500.

Sandown. Race 2. 8:50. Somebody tell Muthmir that Lady Aurelia went home. The 7-year-old gelding chased her at Royal Ascot, hell many of these did, but he got the closest. He won’t feel the wind from her indomitable sail in the Coral Charge, a Group 2 stakes going 5 furlongs.

Sandown. Race 3. 9:25. Third race off the layoff … GM Hopkins is rounding into his best form.

Haydock. Race 2. 9:40. Another lucrative card offered by Haydock. Abington, an American-bred daughter of Street Cry, leads the Group 2 stayers here.

Sandown. Race 4. 10:00. Hey, everybody Con Te Partiro went home, too. Paco’s Angel finished third behind her at Royal Ascot. She looks strong in the Coral Distaff.

Haydock. Race 3. 10:15. More stayers in action, they stretch 12 furlongs here. We’ve always been fond of Brorocco.

Naas. Race 4. 10:20. Rostropovich, a promising son of Frankel, leaps out of the maiden ranks for Coomore.

Sandown. Race 5. 10:35. There is life after Royal Ascot. The Group 1 Coral-Eclipse offers a quick turnaround to the likes of Decorated Knight and Ulysses, who chased the one and only, Highland Reel, June 21. He’s not here, but Cliffs Of Moher, Eminent and Barney Roy offer similar substance.

Naas. Race 5. 10:55. Goldrush cost 1.75 million Euros as a yearling, the daughter of Frankel and Alexander Goldrun, makes her debut for China Horse Club and Jim Bolger.

Sandown. Race 6. 11:10. Wonder why Europe has the best stayers? Because there are opportunities. They go 2 miles in the Esher Stakes.

Beverley. Race 6. 11:35. Time is ticking on Ken Ramsey’s clock, Lord Kitten is 0-for-3 for David Lanigan. Son of Kitten’s Joy (who else?) comes out of his best effort and tries again.

Sandown. Race 7. 11:40. The Queen drew a blank at Royal Ascot, she should pick one up here with Frontispiece for Sir Michael and Sir Ryan.

Suffolk Downs. Race 1. 12:35 p.m. Racing returns to the Boston area, albeit briefly, and the opener of 11-race card is 7 1/2-furlong allowance on the grass.

Suffolk. Race 2. 1:06. Massachusetts-breds, yes there are Massachusetts-breds, run for $50,000 in African Prince Stakes.

Belmont Park. Race 1. 1:30. Stars and Stripes card starts with 7-furlong maiden for 3-year-olds and up.

Bellewstown. Race 5. 1:50. Granny Nora Clancy would have loved the dual-purpose card at her local track. A competitive handicap hurdle leads the show. 

Belmont. Race 3. 2:45. Todd Pletcher sends out National Flag, a $600,000 son of Speightstown, and Mark Hennig debuts Base Command, a $500,000 son of Tiznow, in 5 1/2-furlong maiden for 2-year-olds. Shanroyal cost $400,000 and finished fourth in mid-May debut for Wesley Ward.

Arlington Park. Race 2. 2:57. Swagger Jagger came close in a couple graded stakes last spring and summer. He comes off layoff one day shy of a year and drops to allowance ranks.

Arlington. Race 4. 4:01. Rapid Dial 2-for-2 brought 2-for-2 record to Grade 3 Pat Day Mile two starts back and finished ninth, then bounced back with runner-up effort in June 3 allowance at Churchill. Son of Dialed In makes synthetic debut in 6-furlonig allowance for Ingrid Mason.

Ellis Park. Race 6. 4:30. We said it last week and we’ll say it again, it pays to watch the 2-year-old maiden races at the Pea Patch. Here’s one on the grass going 5 1/2 furlongs. Title Ready, a son of More Than Ready out of a daughter of Personal Ensign, makes debut for Charles Fipke and Steve Asmussen.

Arlington. Race 5. 4:33. One of two graded stakes on the grass for 3-year-olds Saturday, the $100,000 American Derby looks like showdown between Kentucky shippers Sonic Boom and Gorgeous Kitten. Don’t discount another, Hembree, for the Ramseys and Joe Sharp.

Belmont. Race 6. 4:38. Kentucky Derby fifth Practical Joke and Wood Memorial runner-up Battalion Runner look to get second half of the season started in Grade 3 Dwyer. The former won Grade 1 Champagne at the track and trip last fall.

Delaware Park. Race 8. 4:50. Good group of nine older fillies and mares for Grade 3 Robert G. Dick Memorial on the grass. Happyness makes first start for Graham Motion after winning two of three for Chad Brown last year, while Zipessa aims to end five-race losing streak. Don’t knock her too fast, three of those losses were in Grade 1s.

Woodbine. Race 8. 4:52. Blueblood impressed winning his debut and takes next step for Fox Hill Farm and Mark Casse in $100,000 Victoria going 5 furlongs on the synthetic.

Suffolk. Race 10. 4:58. Wesley Ward, Christophe Clement, Linda Rice and John Servis all represented with runners in $75,000 Jill Jellison Memorial Dash going 5 furlongs on the grass.

Arlington. Race 6. 5:06. Local prep for the Grade 1 Beverly D. next month, the Grade 3 Modesty marks Chicago debut for Grade 1 winner Time And Motion. She takes on Dona Bruja, winner of Grade 3 Mint Julep last time, and Daring Duchess, runner-up in Grade 3 Bewitch and winner of small stakes at Churchill in late May.

Laurel Park. Race 9. 5:10. Northern Eclipse finished fourth in Virginia-bred stakes last time after leading early and she’s back in allowance ranks for 5 1/2-furlong turf sprint.

Delaware. Race 9. 5:25. Sweet On Smokey is lone member of field for $50,000 Dashing Beauty with a local victory. That came in last year’s edition of 6-furlong stakes.

Belmont. Race 7. 5:13. The Grade 2 Belmont Sprint Championship marks the return of Dubai Golden Shaheen and Malibu winner Mind Your Biscuits. He’s 3-for-3 in the money at Belmont, all against New York-breds. Not the easiest of spots, with Unified, Awesome Slew, Stallwalkin’ Dude and Green Gratto in the mix.

Monmouth Park. Race 10. 5:19. Talk Logistics chased unbeaten Timeline last time when second in Grade 2 Pegasus and he meets just four in $100,000 Long Branch with eyes possibly on the Grade 1 Haskell. Command Post and Lenstar exit strong races.

Belmont. Race 8. 5:46. Seven-figure purse for Grade 1 Belmont Oaks Invitational, which draws field of 12 that includes European imports Sistercharlie, Uni and Key To My Heart. New Money Honey looked sharp winning two days before the Belmont and is the one to beat.

Ellis. Race 8. 5:50. La Piba is entered in Grade 3 Modesty at Arlington and is one of a dozen, not counting the also eligible, for the $50,000 Ellis Park Turf.

Delaware. Race 10. 6:02. Renown won last year’s $50,000 Cape Henlopen and is back for more in 2017, along with stablemate Mr Singh from Elizabeth Voss’ barn.

Arlington. Race 8. 6:10. Time to stretch out a bit, the Grade 3 Stars and Stripes goes 1 1/2 miles on the grass and is good prep for next month’s American St. Leger. Who gets the trip? The Pizza Man can go that far, but he’s lost three in a row. Applicator led and finished eighth in Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Manhattan. He’s won going t his far, but that was way back in May 2016.

Belmont. Race 9. 6:18. Shaman Ghost looks to erase memories of last year’s Grade 2 Suburban, when he finished fifth behind stablemate Effinex, and takes on just five opponents in this year’s renewal. The 5-year-old son of Ghostzapper looks to keep things rolling for Jimmy Jerkens and Frank Stronach, who teamed to win last week’s Queen’s Plate with Holy Helena.

Evangeline Downs. Race 1. 6:25. The 10-race Legends Night card gets rolling with state-bred maiden for 2-year-old fillies.

Delaware. Race 11. 6:35. Actress broke her maiden in Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan at nearly 13-1. Daughter of Tapit won’t be near that price in Grade 3 Delaware Oaks as she tries to take a step toward next month’s Alabama at Saratoga. Jerry Hollendorfer might also be thinking Alabama with It Tiz Well. Likewise for Modacious and Berned.

Arlington. Race 9. 6:40. The Grade 3 Arlington Handicap is top prep for next month’s Arlington Million despite it’s $100,000 purse. The race should produce a starter or two, most likely last year’s runner-up Kasaqui. He won the Grade 2 Wise Dan last time and meets good field that includes Taghleeb, Manitoulin, Sir Dudley Digges and possibly Applicator.

Belmont. Race 10. 6:50. Extremely strong field for Grade 1 Belmont Derby Invitational. Yoshida showed his class winning James W. Murphy on Preakness undercard and looks like the one to beat, but with two from Aidan O’Brien’s string (Homesman and Whitecliffsofdover), Oscar Performance, Good Samaritan, Arklow and Called To The Bar in the field it won’t be an easy 10 furlongs.

Prairie Meadows. Race 6. 7:16. Ron Moquett tries to get Rocksaw, winner of Gazebo two starts back, on winning track in 6-furlong allowance.

Los Alamitos Race Course. Race 6. 7:28. Cal-breds meet in $100,000 Bertrando as circuit shifts to Los Al for a short meet before Del Mar.

Evangeline. Race 4. 7:48. Pacific Pink rides two-race win streak and brings 3-for-4 mark locally to $100,000 Louisiana Legends Distaff.

Prairie Meadows. Race 8. 8:17. Union Jackson tried Limousine Liberal in Grade 3 Aristides last time and gets some relief against just five in $100,000 Iowa Sprint Handicap.

Evangeline. Race 5. 8:17. Louisiana-bred 3-year-old fillies go 1 mile in $100,000 Louisiana Legends Soiree. Nothing better than a good soiree.

Los Alamitos. Race 8. 8:28. Champion Finest City takes on Constellation, Pretty N Cool and Skye Diamonds in Grade 2 Great Lady M. Named for the dam of the great Lady’s Secret, 6 1/2-furlong stakes looks like perfect spot for Finest City to get back to winner’s circle for first time since last year’s Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint

Evangeline. Race 6. 8:46. Pick the winner of $100,000 Louisiana Legends Mademoiselle and that’s saying something.

Prairie Meadows. Race 9. 8:50. Dolphus did everything but win last time when second to stablemate Shaman Ghost in Grade 3 Pimlico Special. There are no Shaman Ghosts in Grade 3 Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap and he figures tough to beat with Rajiv Maragh making the trip to Des Moines. We love the image of Rajiv in Iowa.

Evangeline. Race 7. 9:16. Tigerstorm stretches out to two turns off three straight victories in $100,000 Louisiana Legends Cheval.

Evangeline. Race 8. 9:46. If you’re still going strong you deserve some credit. If you pick the winner of the $100,000 Louisiana Legends Sprint you deserve even more. We’ll go with Sir Genghis.

Evangeline. Race 9. 10:16. Speaking of Sir Genghis, he’s cross-entered in $100,000 Louisiana Legends Classic. If he runs in 1 1/16-mile feature he’ll face recent Karl Broberg claim Social Misfit, Classy Bird, sixth in last year’s Grade 3 Super Derby; and Fort Pulaski, who is 2-for-2 locally and a veteran of state-bred stakes.