A showdown in California, a competitive 3-year-old stakes on the grass headlining a top card in Pennsylvania and strong turf stakes in New York and New Jersey top a busy day of action previewed in this week’s Saturday Special presented by Pin Oak Stud. And don’t forget the Investec Epsom Derby across the Atlantic Ocean.
The showdown goes down in the Grade 1 Beholder Mile, one of two Grade 1 stakes on the card at Santa Anita Park, while Penn National hosts the Grade 2 Penn Mile and a handful of other stakes. The day gets rolling early and also includes Opening Day at Delaware Park, strong cards at Arlington Park, Churchill Downs and Woodbine.
Here’s your primer for the first Saturday in June. Enjoy and good luck.
Epsom. Race 1. 9:00. Derby Day. It starts off with a bang, as 3-year-olds rumble over 10 furlongs. George Strawbridge sends out Tartini, a one-time winner by Giant’s Causeway out of Hollywood Park stakes winner Vignette.
Hexham. Race 2. 9:05. Where’s the next Invocation? Three-year-olds make their debut over hurdles. It’s June.
Doncaster. Race 2. 9:30. Good to see Alacritas representing Leroidesanimaux in this sprint for 2-year-old fillies.
Epsom. Race 2. 9:35. Kilma and Urban Fox exit the Group 1 One Thousand Guineas and slide down two pegs into the Group 3 Princess Elizabeth Stakes. Laugh Aloud walloped eight listed stakes foes in her latest.
Epsom. Race 3. 10:10. Veteran Sovereign Debt aims at three in a row, carrying top weight in the Group 3 Investec Diomed Stakes.
Epsom. Race 4. 10:45. A full field of 20 emerge for the Investec Corporate Banking ‘Dash’ Handicap.
Epsom. Race 5. 11:30. The feature of the day, the world. The Investec Derby. Ryan Moore chooses Cliffs Of Moher from a gaggle of Coolmore runners. Godolphin has its own gaggle of Benbatl, Best Solution and Dubai Thunder.
Epsom. Race 6. 12:15 p.m. Right or wrong in England, there are choices when it comes to distances and handicaps. An eclectic group – from 4-year-old fillies to 9-year-old geldings – take the stage in this 12-furlong handicap.
Epsom. Race 7. 12:50. You’ve got 6 furlongs to get out on the Epsom card.
Delaware Park. Race 1. 1:15. A gem of the Mid-Atlantic opens its 2017 season with $4,000 claimer going 5 1/2 furlongs on the main track.
Churchill Downs. Race 3. 1:43. Rapid Dial found the water a bit deep in Grade 3 Pat Day Mile on Derby Day. Son of Dialed In returns to allowance ranks.
Belmont Park. Race 2. 2:01. Time to go long, very long, on the grass. Older fillies and mares stretch out to 11 furlongs. Looks like graduation day for Blenheim Palace, but we’ll pull for Double Cast, too.
Lingfield. Race 4. 2:20. Think outside the box. This maiden 2-year-old race is restricted to horses sold or bought in as yearlings by public auction at ‘specified sales’ or as 2-year-olds up to and including May 28, 2017, for 19,000 or less before July 14, 2016 or for 22,000 or less after June 30, 2016 (the last sale to govern the price if sold more than once). Confusing? Trainers understood it well enough to enter eight horses.
Newcastle. Race 4. 2:40. Captor, a 3-year-old son of Frankel, makes his debut for David Simcock.
Lingfield. Race 5. 2:50. Favorite Euqranian, a daughter of Galileo, represents Marc Keller in this maiden.
Belmont. Race 4. 3:04. Jim Bond was high on Cerretalto last fall, probably thinking grass for the son of Tizway. He gets it here, weather permitting, and meets decent field in state-bred heat going 1 mile on the Widener course.
Monmouth Park. Race 6. 3:22. Wesley Ward ships Schianti in from Keeneland for 4 1/2-furlong maiden for 2-year-olds. Don Alberto homebred daughter of Distorted Humor shows three works for debut but will undoubtedly be a shorter price than her 5/2 morning line.
Churchill. Race 7. 3:47. Burma Road looks to end run of seconds in 1 1/16-mile turf allowance. She’s been runner-up in back-to-back starts against similar for Ian Wilkes after back-to-back victories to end 3-year-old campaign last year.
Belmont. Race 6. 4:09. Church Social closed fast in Keeneland allowance that was first start in more than two months. Padoga and Shwaimsa make U.S. debuts for top barns in 1 1/16-mile turf allowance.
Penn National Race Course. Race 3. 4:40. Gary Mandella ships Grand Prix in from Southern California for $100,000 New Start for state-bred fillies and mares going 6 furlongs. Daughter of Tale Of The Cat is 0-for-2 on dirt and hasn’t raced on it since last August. Rose Tree won the Blue Mountain Juvenile last fall at Penn and is 3-for-3 after easy win at Parx last time out for Jonathan Sheppard.
Delaware. Race 8. 4:45. Princess Lu Lu exits late-running third in Keeneland allowance and rates slight edge over Molly O’Shea and Contributing in 5-furlong turf allowance for Michael Stidham.
Churchill. Race 9. 4:51. Four from the Twin Spires Turf Sprint on Oaks Day – Latent Revenge (second), Grand Candy (sixth), Partly Mocha (seventh) and Expected Ruler (ninth) return for $65,000 Mighty Beau going the same 5-furlong trip on the turf.
Woodbine. Race 8. 4:52. Calgary Cat, winner of the Grade 2 Nearctic going 6 furlongs on the grass last year, stretches out another furlong for Grade 2 Connaught Cup. Good field also includes last year’s Woodbine Mile runner-up Tower Of Texas, Grade 2 winner Take The Stand, Glenville Gardens and Commute.
Penn National. Race 4. 5:10. Elizabeth Merryman runs Royal Renege back on short rest after seventh in The Very One on Preakness undercard. Daughter of Broken Vow owns two wins on the course and meets formidable foe in Firsthand Report in $100,000 Lyphard stretching out on the grass.
Delaware. Race 9. 5:15. Larry Jones sends out two in day’s feature, a 1-mile and 70-yard allowance, in Midnight On Oconee and Proud And Fearless.
Churchill. Race 10. 5:21. Limousine Liberal finally registered graded stakes victory for his connections last time out in Grade 2 Churchill Downs and he looks to add another in Grade 3 Aristides. He just missed in this race last year and meets strong field led by Union Jackson, The Truth Or Else, Wilbo and Recount shortening up to 6 furlongs.
Penn National. Race 5. 5:40. Who better to win the $100,000 Storm Cat than his trainer, Jonathan Sheppard? He sends out two, the 2-for-2 Jump Start colt Downhill Racer and the Quality Road first-time starter Brevard Place against three others in 6-furlong stakes.
Belmont. Race 9. 5:45. Simply put, Oscar Performance hasn’t been nearly what he was last year in back-to-back losses in graded stakes in Kentucky. Perhaps the return to New York is the wakeup call for son of Kitten’s Joy, who meets good field for Grade 3 Pennine Ridge going 9 furlongs on the turf. Good Samaritan, Bowies Hero, Ticonderoga and Secretary At War all merit consideration.
Churchill. Race 11. 5:51. Ten older fillies and mares go 7 furlongs in maiden race to close the card.
Monmouth. Race 11. 6:00. The Grade 3 Eatontown attracted so many that the old mutuel field makes a rare appearance. Field of 15 entered, including two for the main track, in 1 1/16-mile turf stakes. Time And Motion makes third start off layoff and could be the one despite outside draw.
Gulfstream Park. Race 11. 6:06. The 9-year-old veteran Bull Dozer seeks his 22nd victory in start No. 75. The rest of the field has made a combined 78 starts with just 15 victories. And he could be yours for $12,500.
Penn National. Race 6. 6:10. Adorable Miss brings 2-for-2 record – both victories at Gulfstream Park – to the table for $200,000 Penn Oaks. Strong field also includes Noble Ready for Christophe Clement and Party Boat for Graham Motion.
Penn National. Race 7. 6:40. Peter Miller kept Richard’s Boy in the Mid-Atlantic following victory in Jim McKay Turf Sprint on Black-Eyed Susan undercard and takes another swing in $200,000 Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup. He meets strong field in 5-furlong turf sprint that includes Ready For Rye, Take Cover, Rainbow Heir and Bold Thunder.
Santa Anita Park. Race 7. 7:00. The Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile, another holdover from the former Hollywood Park, features small but deep field led by New York shipper Heart To Heart, Grade 1 winner Bal A Bali and the very capable What A View, Farhaan and Bolo.
Penn National. Race 8. 7:10. Five who could have – and one who did, Discreet Lover – contested the Grade 3 Pimlico Special two weeks ago vie for $200,000 purse in Mountainview. Matt King Coal just missed in Grade 2 Charles Town Classic and Madefromlucky ran well to be fourth in Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap. Page McKenney looks to keep comeback on track off victory in small stakes at Parx last time out.
Arlington Park. Race 5. 7:11. Illinois-bred 3-year-old fillies go 1 mile in $50,000 Purple Violet. Babybluesbdancing won her last two against state-breds but needs to improve significantly off poor try in the slop in Kentucky Oaks Day allowance.
Santa Anita. Race 8. 7:30. How’s this for a showdown? Vale Dori, Stellar Wind and Finest City meet, with two others, in Grade 1 Beholder Mile. Formerly known as the Vanity, the Beholder could be seventh straight victory for Vale Dori. The last time she lost it was to Stellar Wind, who topped Beholder twice last season and rolled in Grade 1 Apple Blossom in her last start. Finest City just missed in the slop last time when second to Paulassilverlining in the Grade 1 Humana Distaff. She’s been in the money in six of eight starts at Santa Anita. Race of the day.
Arlington. Race 6. 7:40. Riv, the winner of three of four for (who else?) Larry Rivelli, tops of eight state-bred 3-year-olds for $50,000 Springfield going 1 mile.
Penn National. Race 9. 7:45. Big Score, winner of Grade 3 Transylvania and a close third in American Turf on Derby Day, tops field of 10 for Grade 2 Penn Mile. He’s joined in $500,000 turf stakes by fellow California-based Cistron along with three for owner Three Diamonds Farm in Shiraz, Bonus Points and Prix Fight, and stakes winners Frostmourne and Bronson.
Indiana Grand. Race 9. 9:49. Quarter Horses go 350 yards in $98,200 Harley Greene Derby Final. Come on, you know you’re tempted to take a look.