The Saturday Special – June 2

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Welcome to June. Time to rev up for next week’s Belmont Stakes, settle into summer and start to think about Saratoga. Before any of that there’s another loaded day of racing previewed in this week’s edition of The Saturday Special presented by Pin Oak Stud.

The Epsom Derby, a salty field lining up for the Grade 1 Beholder Mile at Santa Anita, a strong edition of the $500,000 Penn Mile and graded stakes in New York, Kentucky and Ontario lead this week’s slate. The field for the Beholder is befitting the race named in honor of the multiple Eclipse Award winner, with a trio of stars led by Unique Bella in the mix.

The day starts early with strong racing overseas at Doncaster and Epsom, with the 239th edition of the Investec Epsom Derby on tap at 11:30 a.m. EDT. And we thought the 150 years of the Belmont was old. Be mindful of your pace, with a long day ahead and the Downs After Dark card at Churchill Downs coming to an end at 11:10 p.m.

Here’s your primer for Saturday, June 2. Take care and good luck.

Doncaster. Race 2. 8:55 a.m. EDT Start taking your notes. Promising band of 2-year-olds line up here.

Epsom. Race 1. 9:00. Put Epsom on the computer and keep it on for a stellar card of racing. The opener attracts a tough group of 3-year-olds.

Doncaster. Race 3. 9:30. Keep taking your notes. Promising band of 2-year-olds line up here – again. American-breds Dubai Legacy and Semoum loom large.

Epsom. Race 2. 9:35. German-bred Diaphora ships over for the Group 3 Princess Elizabeth Stakes.

Epsom. Race 3. 10:10. The Group 3 Investec Diomed Stakes. How do you like Gabrial? He’s won nine races from 79 starts. We’ll root for Crazy Horse for our friend George Baker, whose horses are rounding into form.

Musselburgh. Race 4. 10:25. Unforgetable Filly returns for her first start since flopping in the Queen Elizabeth II at Keeneland. Madeline tried the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf last year, she needs to regroup.

Doncaster. Race 5. 10:40. Solid group of 3-year-olds, including the streaking Austrian School and the maiden Urbino, clash in this handicap.

Epsom. Race 4. 10:45. Wow, 20 rip 5 furlongs in this handicap.

Navan. Race 6. 11:10. The red-hot Jessica Harrington sends out The King, who drops a notch from the Group 3 Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial Stakes.

Epsom. Race 5. 11:30. The Investec Derby. The race of the day. The undefeated Saxon Warrior, a Japanese son of Deep Impact representing Coolmore, takes on Hazapour, Young Rascal, Roaring Lion and stablemates Delano Roosevelt, Kew Gardens and The Pentagon.

Epsom. Race 6. 12:15 p.m. Tough handicap keeps the hits spinning.

Gulfstream Park. Race 1. 12:45. Another Saturday, another dozen races on tap in South Florida.

Epsom. Race 7. 12:50. Once more with feeling. Handicap sprinters close the card.

Monmouth Park. Race 1. 12:50. Two-year-old fillies start the card in 4 1/2-furlong maiden.

Laurel Park. Race 1. 1:10. Racing returned to Laurel Friday after short stint at Pimlico and 11-race card starts with 5 1/2-furlong claimer on the grass.

Monmouth. Race 3. 1:45. Frankly J’ray, daughter of Frankel out of multiple graded stakes winner J’ray, makes debut for owner-breeder Lawrence Goichman and Chad Brown in 1 1/16-mile turf maiden.

Gulfstream. Race 4. 2:15. Eighth Florida-bred 2-year-olds set to go 4 1/2 furlongs. Stanley Gold frequently fares well in spots like this; he unveils Arindel homebred Bretheren colt Red Fog.

Chepstow. Race 4. 2:30. Veteran Sir Billy Wright returns. Ah, Billy Wright. If anybody can tell us where he is today, we’ll give you a Saratoga Special hat.

Gulfstream. Race 5. 2:47. Road To Damascus goes in 1-mile turf allowance for trainer Todd Pletcher and owners WinStar Farm, China Horse Club and others. Son of Pioneerof The Nile makes turf debut off short break following fourth in the Rushaway on synthetic at Turfway.

Belmont Park. Race 4. 3:09. Brad Cox is off to a strong start at the meet and he sends out Wicked Freud for the second time off claim in 1-mile state-bred allowance on the grass.

Monmouth. Race 6. 3:15. Fifty returns to the main track and sprinting after decent third as the favorite in Woodhaven Stakes in late April at Aqueduct. Son of Giant’s Causeway won back-to-back starts sprinting prior to that effort and looks tough in here against five others.

Woodbine. Race 5. 3:20. Subsidiary, 2-year-old first-time starter from first crop of New York-based stallion Central Banker, makes debut for Mark Casse. He also sends out the Sligo Bay firster Sailing By in 4 1/2-furlong maiden on the synthetic.

Belterra Park. Race 5. 3:24. Super’s X E finds spot to break her maiden for Rodolphe Brisset, 1 1/16-mile heat against six others.

Penn National Race Course. Race 1. 3:45. Penn Mile Day starts with 6-furlong maiden claimer.

Arlington Park. Race 5. 4:21. Recount chased the likes of Wilbo and Ivan Fallunovalot this winter in Hot Springs, returned home a winner against state-breds last time at Hawthorne and make second straight Illinois-bred stakes appearance in $75,000 Addison Cammack Memorial. Goneghost will keep him honest, the winner of four straight against state-bred competition.

Penn National. Race 3. 4:40. First stakes of the day is $100,000 New Start for state-bred 3-year-old fillies going 6 furlongs. John Velazquez takes call on Bronx Beauty, the winner of three of four and in small stakes last November in most recent appearance.

Woodbine. Race 8. 4:57. Extended turf sprint at 7 furlongs for the Grade 2 Connaught Cup, which lures Cairbou Club from Fair Hill, Conquest Panthera from Belmont, Bondurant, Camelot Kitten and Dimension from Kentucky and Forge from Saratoga. Who’s the pick? Forge, shortening up a bit off third in Grade 1 Maker’s 46 Mile at Keeneland.

Laurel. Race 9. 5:10. Phil Schoenthal sends out strong entry of Sonny Inspired, running back on two weeks’ rest after an eighth in Grade 3 Maryland Sprint; and River Deep, off since Jan. 19, in 6-furlong optional.

Penn National. Race 4. 5:10. Older fillies and mares go to the turf for $100,000 Lyphard. Great to see that name, even if it doesn’t appear high in many pedigrees these days. The winner? Great Soul.

Canterbury Park. Race 8. 5:15. Field of seven for the $50,000 Honor The Hero. How’s this for a cutback? Majestic Pride ran in the Grade 3 Sycamore last time at Keeneland going 1 1/2 miles on turf; this time it’s 5 furlongs on the grass. He’s capable and finished third in same race in 2016.

Arlington. Race 7. 5:23. Illinois-bred fillies and mares take their turn in the $75,000 Isaac Murphy Handicap. Puntsville loves Arlington – she’s 5-for-9 – and looks tough in here off the layoff.

Monmouth. Race 10. 5:27. Strike Me Down, stakes-placed as a 2-year-old and a winner on synthetic last time at Woodbine, ships in from Fair Hill for $60,000 Tale Of The Cat for Graham Motion. Strong field for the purse, with Hazit, One Fast Ride and Vital also in the mix.

Penn National. Race 5. 5:40. Battle of the unbeatens in Midnight Poker, Smokin Nitro, Sargent Suds and Jump Shift (he’s a first-time starter) in the $100,000 Danzig.

Belmont. Race 9. 5:50. Analyze It made competition look ordinary in his three starts, including romp from outside post last time in Grade 3 Transylvania. He’s standout in Grade 3 Pennine Ridge, taking on Grade 3 winner Catholic Boy, Untamed Domain and possibly Hawkish. The latter is cross-entered in the Penn Mile.

Penn National. Race 6. 6:10. Where will Morticia wind up? She’s also entered in the finale at Churchill Downs against males. If she goes in here she’s one of a dozen for the $100,000 Penn Ladies Dash.

Santa Anita Park. Race 7. 6:30. Cal-bred 3-year-olds go 9 furlongs on the turf in $200,000 Snow Chief. Hardboot and Psycho Dar were 1-3 in the Silky Sullivan last time out in Northern California while Take The One O One returns to the grass after several strong races on the main track.

Penn National. Race 7. 6:40. Thewayiam saw three-race win streak come to an end against Rushing Fall in Grade 2 Appalachian at Keeneland – no disgrace there – and looks like the one in $200,000 Penn Oaks.

Penn National. Race 8. 7:10. Full field of 12 for the $200,000 Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup, including Jim McKay Turf Sprint third Oak Bluffs and multiple graded stakes winner Pure Sensation from the outside post.

Santa Anita. Race 9. 7:30. Race of the day here in the U.S., hands down, with Unique Bella, Paradise Woods and Vale Dori headlining the Grade 1 Beholder Mile. Unique Bella seemed to lose all chance when she broke poorly in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom and looks to improve to 7-for-8 at Santa Anita from outside post in field of six. Vale Dori, unstoppable out West from December 2016 to May 2017, is right next door and attempting to get back on track off a fifth in the Grade 3 Adoration. Paradise Woods also rides three-race losing streak – although two in Grade 1 stakes – and dull effort in last.

Golden Gate Fields. Race 8. 7:38. Mr. Twinery found new life in Northern California, winning back-to-back in claiming and starter allowance company. Jerry Hollendorfer steps Sidney’s Candy gelding up again in 6-furlong allowance from the rail.

Penn National. Race 9. 7:45. Therapist and Maurad renew rivalry in Grade 2 Penn Mile. The former saw unbeaten run end in Grade 3 Palm Beach in early March at Gulfstream, while the latter rebounded from bad race at Keeneland in the boggy going on Kentucky Derby with victory in the Grade 2 American Turf. Others in $500,000 stakes that look tough, including California shipper Encumbered, Coltandmississippi, He’s Bankable and Hawkish if he ships from New York.

Churchill Downs. Race 5. 7:57. Should still be light for this 1 1/16-mile turf maiden for older females.

Churchill. Race 6. 8:30. Throwback allowance brings together former Belmont Stakes starter Hollywood Handsom, last-out Keeneland winner Big Dollar Bill, 2016 Preakness runner-up Cherry Wine and graded stakes competitor Irish Freedom.

Churchill. Race 8. 9:39. Victory Garden should benefit from a little more time than many of these and can graduate for Bill Mott in 1 1/16-mile turf maiden.

Churchill. Race 9. 10:11. Coupled entry of Solomini and Mississippi look formidable in two-turn optional on the main track. The former was runner-up in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and placed in two graded stakes this year before splitting field in the Kentucky Derby, while the latter returns to allowance-optional level after two tries in Florida Derby and Pat Day Mile.

Churchill. Race 10. 10:42. Wilbo benefits from absence of Whitmore in featured Grade 3 Aristides, but still needs to handle familiar foe in Smart Spree, last-out Churchill winner Mr. Crow, Awesome Saturday and Chief Cicatriz.

Churchill. Race 11. 11:10. Hogy shortens back up after ninth in Grade 1 Maker’s 46 Mile and after not entering Twin Spires Turf Sprint on Kentucky Oaks undercard. He’s 2-for-3 at Churchill, 8-for-21 at the 5-furlong turf trip and drawn outside in field of 10. Long On Value still going strong at 7, makes first start for Brad Cox and first out since the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile in mid-September, while Morticia takes on the boys for the first time.