The Saturday Special – June 20

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The reopening continues across North America and around the world – still without fans on site for the most part – and another loaded day of action on tap.

The Belmont Stakes and strong undercard at Belmont Park lead the way this week, the opening jewel of the reshuffled Triple Crown. Before things kick into gear at Big Sandy there’s plenty of overseas action to whet your appetite, including the final day of the Royal Ascot meeting.

The primer – which can be read weekly at thisishorseracing.com – also welcomes back the return of Saturday action at Louisiana Downs and Delaware Park. There’s plenty of stakes lined up for the penultimate weekend in June with the Grade 2 Wise Dan and Audobon at Churchill Downs and a pair of Grade 3s at Santa Anita Park.

Here’s the primer for Saturday, June 20. We didn’t preview the stakes at Belmont, since they’re all covered in the digital edition of The 2020 Special. Take care, be safe and good luck.

Royal Ascot. Race 1. 7:40 a.m. The final day of a strange and surreal Royal Ascot. Brilliant horses, brave jockeys in front of an empty grandstand. Still hard to believe. The Silver Wokingham, a consolation race for the Wokingham opens the card. The 6-furlong handicap offers another puzzler in a puzzling week. 

Royal Ascot. Race 2. 8:15. Campanelle and Royal Approval try to salvage a frustrating week for Wesley Ward in the Queen Mary.

Royal Ascot. Race 3. 8:50. Jump trainer Alan King already has two wins at this year’s meet, he aims for three with Painless Potter in the Coventry. Of course, Jim Crowley used to be a jump jockey, he’s won six this week. He rides Qaader, an impressive debut winner at Newbury.

Royal Ascot. Race 4. 9:25. All eyes are on Sharing in the Coronation Stakes.

Royal Ascot. Race 5. 10:00. Pinatubo suffered his first loss in the Two Thousand Guineas at Newmarket just 14 days ago. The son of Shamardal tries to bounce back in the St. James’s Palace. Wichita, a neck in front of Pinatubo that day, returns for Ryan Moore and Aidan O’Brien.

Royal Ascot. Race 6. 10:35. Frankie Dettori meets up with the once-beaten Irish raider Skeptical for the Diamond Jubilee. 

Royal Ascot. Race 7. 11:10. The Wokingham, a minefield of a handicap. Hope you’ve been studying. 

Royal Ascot. Race 8. 11:40. The finale, the longest race of the week, the 2 3/4-mile Queen Alexandra attracts the stayers of the stayers. Can Alan King keep the pot on the burner with Who Dares Wins? 

Belmont Park. Race 1. 11:45. Belmont Stakes Day begins with 1-mile maiden claimer on the grass.

Belmont. Race 2. 12:25 p.m. The Grade 1 Woody Stephens presented by Claiborne Farm.

Gulfstream Park. Race 2. 12:30. Ten 2-year-olds for early maiden. Scan the entries, check for a Wesley Ward firster. Into The Sunrise fits that bill and he cost $325,000 at last year’s Keeneland September sale.

Woodbine. Race 1. 1:00. Maiden optional on the grass starts the day in Toronto.

Belmont. Race 3. 1:02. Keep an eye on Indian Pride in her comeback and 2020 debut. Daughter of Proud Citizen finished third in Grade 2 Raven Run at Keeneland in her second start after sharp maiden score last summer at Saratoga.

Delaware Park. Race 1. 1:15. Welcome back Delaware, and with fans to boot. The opener is 5 1/2-furlong claimer.

Belmont. Race 4. 1:42. The Grade 2 Pennine Ridge.

Delaware. Race 2. 1:45. Field of seven for 5-furlong maiden for 2-year-olds. Only two aren’t entered for $25,000 tag – Maryland-bred Bourbon Course filly Courageous Grace and Maryland-bred Jimmy Creed filly Aprilness.

Churchill Downs. Race 3. 1:57. A dozen, plus two AEs and an MTO, for 9-furlong allowance on the grass.

Delaware. Race 3. 2:15. Muchacho returns from short freshening and makes Delaware debut in 1-mile allowance against Flight Risk, Bumperdoo, Sense Of Justice and Skyscanner.

Belmont. Race 5. 2:19. Tough to sort this field of eight for 7-furlong maiden. Go with Todd Pletcher’s firster Happy Saver.

Churchill. Race 4. 2:26. Well named Movie Moxy, daughter of Street Sense out of Casting Director who cost $225,000 at 2018 Keeneland September sale, makes debut in 6-furlong maiden for Eddie Kenneally.

Woodbine. Race 4. 2:42. Full field of 12 for 1-mile optional on the turf, a group that includes former Queen’s Plate and Breeders’ Stakes starter Lucas n’ Lori.

Belmont. Race 6. 3:01. The Grade 3 Wonder Again.

Churchill. Race 6. 3:25. Solid field of eight for inaugural $100,000 Audobon Stakes. Field Pass won the Grade 3 Jeff Ruby two back and finished third in 1-mile War Chant last time out. He’ll be tough in 9-furlong stakes against Summer To Remember, Pixelate and Natural Power.

Santa Anita Park. Race 1. 3:30. State-bred maiden turf sprint leads off in Southern California.

Belmont. Race 7. 3:39. My Sassy Sarah, a close sixth against open company in the Grade 2 Miss Grillo last fall, returns to the grass for 2020 debut in 6-furlong state-bred allowance.

Laurel Park. Race 7. 3:40. We’re always fans of runners named for Peaky Blinders characters. Tommy Shelby among those entered in 5 1/2-furlong optional but he only goes if it comes off the grass.

Delaware. Race 6. 3:45. Second division of 2-year-old maiden claimer at 5 furlongs. Flip the script from the prior division with only three of nine entered for the $25,000 tag.

Gulfstream. Race 8. 3:46. Seven-furlong optional looks like perfect spot for Sweet Mia to get back in the win column.

Woodbine. Race 6. 3:54. Elusive Knight, last seen finishing second at odds-on in the Display Stakes in December, makes 2020 debut for Stronach Stables and Sid Attard against nine others in 1 1/16-mile allowance on the synthetic.

Santa Anita. Race 2. 4:02. Early stakes on the West Coast, the Grade 3 Wilshire for older fillies and mares on the grass. Keeper Ofthe Stars comes off back-to-back wins in the Grade 2 Buena Vista and Grade 1 Gamely and looks like the standout but Toinette packs equal credentials for Neal Drysdale.

Louisiana Downs. Race 1. 4:05. Two-turn claimer at about 1 mile on the grass opens the card.

Belmont. Race 8. 4:15. The Grade 1 Longines Acorn.

Gulfstream. Race 9. 4:20. Kokokomo stayed back with Todd Pletcher’s Florida string and could be one to spoil first-off-claim run by his former stablemate Mystic Lancelot in 1-mile optional on the grass. And there’s another former Pletcher runner making his first start off the claim in Riggins.

Woodbine. Race 7. 4:28. Back to the grass for 1 1/16-mile maiden.

Delaware. Race 8. 4:45. Sweet Sami D ran in the Grade 3 Monmouth Oaks, Grade 1 Cotillion and Safely Kept to end her 3-year-old season. She makes 2020 debut against nine others in 1-mile optional on the main track.

Belmont. Race 9. 4:53. The Grade 1 Jaipur.

Churchill. Race 9. 5:01. March To The Arch returns to defend title in Grade 2 Wise Dan. He exits dismal 10th in Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile at Santa Anita and meets expected favorite Factor This, Just Howard, English Bee, Parlor and Aquaphobia.

Woodbine. Race 9. 5:30. Strong optional on the grass closes the card. Neepawa, winner of the 2018 Breeders’ Stakes on the grass, among the field of 11 along with Sir Sahib, Aheadbyacentury and Count Again.

Churchill. Race 10. 5:33. Don’t tune out yet, here’s a full field of 12 for 6-furlong maiden. Steve Asmussen could keep a big day rolling with Uncle Mo firster Yaupon.

Belmont. Race 10. 5:42. The Grade 1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets.

Churchill. Race 11. 6:05. Big Dreaming, daughter of Declaration Of War out of champion Dreaming Of Anna, makes second start and first for trainer Wayne Catalano in 1-mile maiden on the grass. Catalano trained the dam to wins in Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and either other stakes.

Belmont. Race 11. 6:17. Don’t hit the exits just yet, oh wait. Did you read about Largent in the Fasig-Tipton Stable Tour? Go back and read, then bet.

Santa Anita. Race 7. 3:32. Looks like Multiplier vs. Ax Man on paper. They don’t run races on paper.

Belmont. Race 12. 6:49. State-breds on the grass close the card.

Charles Town Races. Race 1. 7:00. Keep the day rolling and restart with a maiden claimer at 4 1/2 furlongs.

Santa Anita. Race 8. 7:02. Jetovator puts consistent record (9-for-12 in the money) to test in 5 1/2-furlong turf allowance for Cal-breds. Only problem is he doesn’t win much – just once in those dozen starts.

Santa Anita. Race 9. 7:32. Collusion Illusion bounced back from being pulled up in Breeders’ Cup Juvenile with victory in 6-furlong optional May 17. Now he stakes back into stakes company – where he won the Grade 2 Best Pal at Del Mar – in the Grade 3 Lazaro Barrera.

Santa Anita. Race 10. 8:02. They’re not done yet in California, here’s the $150,000 Snow Chief for California-bred sophomores on the turf. Might be a short price on Margot’s Boy. Take it.

Santa Anita. Race 12. 9:02. Almost home. Here’s the finale, 1-mile starter optional on the grass with Golden Doughnut coming off almost three years on the sidelines. Come again?

Charles Town. Race 7. 10:02. Coach Rube, Letts Go To Dixies, Malibu Splash and Gandhi’s Castle tough to sort in state-bred allowance going 4 1/2.