The Saturday Special – June 4

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Only a week to go before the 2022 Triple Crown season wraps up, but before we turn our gaze toward Long Island and Belmont Park there’s much to do here on this first weekend of June.

Stephen Foster Preview Day looms large at Churchill Downs, which hosts a bunch of stakes Saturday. Our handicappers dug into the card and you can find their picks below. Overseas it’s Derby Day at Epsom, with the Cazoo Derby run in honor of the late, great Lester Piggott. Who could forget Piggott’s ride on Royal Academy in the 1990 Breeders’ Cup Mile? A thing of beauty.

Here’s your Special for Saturday, June 4. See you on Hempstead Turnpike next week.

Riverdee Stable’s Names of the Day
Fomo. Race 2. Laurel Park. Liza Hendriks and Elizabeth Merryman’s 4-year-old is out of R Vicarious Girl. 

Lollygag. Race 5. Belmont Park. Anything that makes us think of Bull Durham is OK with us.

Eagerly. Race 7. Delaware Park. Gillian Johnston’s 5-year-old is out of Excited. 

Durante. Race 6. Churchill Downs. The 3-year-old colt is by Distorted Humor. 

Scalding. Race 10. Churchill Downs. The 4-year-old colt is out of Hot Water. 

War And Roses. Laurel Park. Race 10. Gordie Keys nailed this one. The 3-year-old is by Declaration Of War and out of Toast To Love. Boom. 

Thoroughbred Racing Calendar’s Plays of the Day
Doncaster. Race 5. 10:51. We scouted Prydwen way back when he was a maiden and we’ll give him an excuse in his most recent defeat. 

Epsom. Race 6. 12:15. We love when an Alan King hurdler goes back to the turf. Midnights Legacy will make your day. 

Laurel Park. Race 10. 5:37. The Last Scip will relish moving back to the turf. 

Worth Repeating
“It’s an honor to be recognized at an event that celebrates the bond between Elmont and Belmont Park. We look forward to marching down Hempstead Turnpike together again, and I congratulate all the organizers of the Elmont/Belmont Parade and NYRA for their dedication to this wonderful event.”
New York Race Track Chaplaincy Chaplain Humberto Chavez, grand marshal of the Elmont/Belmont Parade to celebrate the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival

“I’d like to get Sonny a couple of mounts Friday so he can get a feel for the track, so I’ve reached out to a couple trainers up there. He’ll be watching many of the replays of previous Belmonts to see who did what and how it happened. And then he’ll be studying every race over the next week at Belmont Park to get ready.”
Jeff Perin, agent for Rich Strike’s jockey Sonny Leon

“Even on Derby Day, the only race he rode was the Kentucky Derby. The dream was to draw in and run in the Kentucky Derby, but the dream never went as far as to winning it. The good Lord has different plans for us all.”

“I’m not sure where we’ll go next but I’m going to keep her fat and happy.”
Trainer Greg Foley on recent Grade 3 Winning Colors winner Sconsin

“He got away real well and worked exactly like we wanted him to do. The track was a little quicker since it was in the afternoon but it was exactly what we wanted to do. Yesterday he was starting to relax in the morning. After some time away from the races that’s sort of what we’ve seen from him. There’s no doubt about his confidence. We’ve seen him come off the track in mornings more playful. It’s like he knows what he did in the Derby. I still don’t think we’ve seen the best of him.”
Trainer Eric Reed after Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike worked 5 furlongs in :59 between races Monday at Churchill Downs

“We’re going on with the year with no regrets. We did what was best for Ritchie and I’m confident we made the right decision.”
Reed on the decision to skip the Preakness with Rich Strike

“Luckily, there are no Chad Brown’s in there, which is a help.”
Trainer Ben Cecil before longshot Eddie’s New Dream finished fifth of six in the Grade 1 Gamely last week at Santa Anita

By the Numbers
500: U.S. winners for jockey Leonel Reyes after riding Republique, a half-sister to 2021 Preakness winner Rombauer, to victory in the ninth race Sunday at Gulfstream Park.

Handicapper’s CornerThe handicapping team from The Saratoga Special returns this week with picks for Churchill Downs’ Stephen Foster Preview Day card. Tom Law takes a hefty lead into the weekend, with 56 winners this winter and spring, eight more than John Shapazian and Jessica Paquette.

John, the handicapping king of Saratoga, let Tom know his thoughts on the current standings this week: “We all decided in February to let you win this preliminary event, but when the ‘main event’ starts on July 14, the gloves come off.”

John Shapazian (48/211):
1-Winter Pool, Crafty Daddy, Big Lake.
2-Wild For Wycliff, Hope And Dignity, Majestic West.
3-Overcooked, Smugness, Gunning.
4-Bees And Honey, Powder River, Longpants Required.
5-McKulick, Beside Herself, Walkathon.
6-Sacred Samurai, Mendenhall, Awesome Aaron.
7-Pauline’s Pearl, Ava’s Grace, Army Wife.
8-Admission Office, Like The King, Get Smokin.
9-Top Gunner, Bango, Miles Ahead.
10-Americanrevolution, Scalding, Title Ready.
11-Spin Wheel, Play Action Pass, Grand Sonata.

Tom Law (56/211):
1-Chocolate Bar, Winter Pool, Crafty Daddy.
2-Hope And Dignity, Mahomey, Wild For Wycliff.
3-Misread, Gunning, Colorful Mischief.
4-Powder River, Lady Frosted, Bees And Honey.
5-McKulick, Walkathon, Beside Herself.
6-Strava, Mendenhall, Volcanic.
7-Pauline’s Pearl, Army Wife, Ava’s Grace.
8-Get Smokin, Field Pass, Admission Office.
9-Bob’s Edge, Top Gunner, Long Range Toddy.
10-Scalding, Americanrevolution, Dynamic One.
11-Tallahatchiebridge, Smokin’ T, Grand Sonata.

Charles Bedard (46/211):
1-Truculent, Big Lake, Crafty Daddy.
2-Sir Giannis, Mahomey, Suggested.
3-Lil Town Sis, Misread, Jag Warrior.
4-Powder River, Lady Frosted, Bees And Honey.
5-Candy Raid, McKulick, Kneesnhips.
6-Siena Farm entry, Emirates Road, We All See It.
7-Pauline’s Pearl, Crazy Beautiful, Ava’s Grace.
8-Floriform, Admission Office, Like The King.
9-Bob’s Edge, Miles Ahead, Jalen Journey.
10-Proxy, Scalding, Title Ready.
11-Grand Sonata, Red Run, Play Action Pass

Rob Whitlock (47/211):
1-Chocolate Bar, Big Lake, Crafty Daddy.
2-Hope And Dignity, Kings Mischief, Majestic West.
3-Misread, Overcooked, Smugness.
4-Lady Frosted, Bees And Honey, Longpants Required.
5-McKulick, Beside Herself, Candy Raid.
6-Winstar entry, Sacred Samurai, Durante.
7-Pauline’s Pearl, Army Wife, Ava’s Grace.
8-Floriform, Field Pass, Grays Fable.
9-Pyron, Bob’s Edge, Miles Ahead.
10-Americanrevolution, Scalding, Proxy.
11-Speaking Out, James Jones, Tallahatchiebridge.

Jessica Paquette (48/211):
1-Winter Pool, Chocolate Bar, Big Lake.
2-King’s Mischief, Hope And Dignity, Wild For Wylciff.
3-Overcooked, Strikingly, Colorful Mischief.
4-Microcap, Family Time, Lady Frosted.
5-McKulick, Beside Herself, Kneeships.
6-Sacred Samurai, Mendenhall, Strava.
7-Pauline’s Pearl, Army Wife, Ava’s Grace.
8-Floriform, Admission Office, Field Pass.
9-Top Gunner, Necker Island, Bob’s Edge.
10-Scalding, Proxy, Dynamic One.
11-Red Run, Smokin’ T, Grand Sonata 

As for the races …
Epsom. Race 1. 9:00 a.m. We downloaded form for 13 cards in Ireland, France and Britain and there’s only one that counts. Derby Day at Epsom starts with this 0-100 handicap going 1 1/4 miles. 

Epsom. Race 2. 9:35. Bashkirova and Potapova highlight the Group 3 Queen Elizabeth, the first of a stakes skein on a stellar card. 

Doncaster. Race 4. 10:06. Captain Kane, winner of five of his last six, climbs from Class 6 races to the Platinum Jubilee Handicap, a 1 13/16-miles cracker. 

Epsom. Race 3. 10:10. Modern News tries to make it three in a row in the Cazoo Diomed Stakes. 

Auteuil. Race 1. 10:40. If jumping is your game, this is your best option. The nine-race card tees off with the Jean Victor Handicap Chase, a 2 1/4-mile chase for $108,000. Filip, Blackfield and Kalinski finished in that order in their most recent clash.

Epsom. Race 4. 10:45. Twenty clash in the Heritage Handicap, a 5-furlong rumble.

Epsom. Race 5. 11:30. The Cazoo Derby, in memory of Lester Piggott. He won nine of them. This year’s classic draws a star-studded field of 17. Desert Crown walloped seven rivals in the Dante and rolls in 2-for-2 for Sir Michael Stoute and Richard Kingscote. Ryan Moore chooses Stone Age, winner of his last two including the Derby Trial. Frankie Dettori lands the ride on the once-beaten Irish raider Piz Badile for Flaxman Stable. William Buick opts for the once-beaten Nations Pride for Godolphin. 

Monmouth Park. Race 2. 12:43 p.m. Time for some 2-year-olds. Six of the seven are firsters, including runners for John Terranova (Sweet Harmony) and Butch Reid (Girl Trouble).

Belmont Park. Race 1. 1:00. A week out from the Belmont Stakes, this Saturday’s card opens with a state-bred maiden on the grass. Can’t get enough of the New York scene? Check out our team’s coverage of the Big Apple Showcase Day card for the New York Thoroughbred Breeders here.

Monmouth. Race 6. 2:35. Second half of split 2-year-old maiden, this one with a field of eight including the Todd Pletcher-trained Saratoga-worker Royal Mover.

Churchill Downs. Race 5. 2:45. The Grade 3 Regret kicks off the Foster Day Preview. McKulick finished a good second last time on Oaks Day in the Grade 2 Edgewood and merits respect, but don’t count out Beside Herself, Walkathon, Kneesnhips and Candy Raid. 

Churchill. Race 7. 3:50. Pauline’s Pearl ran down Shedaresthedevil last time out to win the Grade 1 La Troienne. Now she’s the marked in the $200,000 Shawnee against last year’s Black-Eyed Susan winner Army Wife, Crazy Beautiful, Ava’s Grace and two others. 

Churchill. Race 8. 4:22. Admission Office comes off more than a year layoff in the Grade 3 Arlington, which also attracts Floriform, Get Smokin, Field Pass and Gray’s Fable. 

Santa Anita Park. Race 2. 4:33. Early stakes on the card, the Grade 3 Desert Stormer attracts just five. Becca Taylor, 4-5 on the morning line, comes in 7-for-8 with victories on dirt, turf and synthetic during her career.

Monmouth. Race 11. 4:55. Nine for the $100,000 Mr. Prospector. Drafted comes off victory in Grade 3 Runhappy and New York-bred River Dog rides two-race win streak since moving to trainer Kelly Breen.

Churchill. Race 9. 4:55. Pretty balanced group of eight for the $200,000 Aristides at 6 furlongs. Bob’s Edge won back-to-back stakes at Oaklawn this winter and rates slight edge over Top Gunner and Necker Island. 

Woodbine. Race 8. 4:59. Al Stall Jr. ships In Good Spirits north from Kentucky for the Grade 2 Royal North at 6 1/2 furlongs on the turf. She’ll meet top locals Boardroom, Amalfi Coast and Souper Sensational.

Belmont. Race 9. 5:12. Turf stakes for 3-year-olds overflowing this week and here’s another, the Grade 2 Pennine Ridge at 9 furlongs. Field of seven with two from Chad Brown’s barn in Unanimous Consent and Napoleonic War. We like Limited Liability, who ran big off the bench last time at Keeneland.

Gulfstream Park. Race 9. 5:19. A lot of rain headed to Florida in the form of a tropical storm. Could leave the card in jeopardy, including the featured $65,000 Ginger Punch for Florida-bred fillies and mares on the grass.

Churchill. Race 10. 5:26. Todd Pletcher reroutes Americanrevolution to the $200,000 Blame after Monday’s Commentator Stakes on Big Apple Showcase Day at Belmont didn’t fill. Son of Constitution. hasn’t been out since winning the Grade 1 Cigar Mile Handicap in early December but stands out here. Scalding, the winner of four straight, might be the spoiler.  

Santa Anita. Race 4. 5:38. Fun Money and Lov U Mean It both ran well in debut. Any improvement could land them first win here in 5-furlong Cal-bred or Cal-sired maiden.

Churchill. Race 11. 5:58. Grand Sonata, second in the Grade 3 Transylvania; and Smokin’ T, fourth in the Grade 2 American Turf, headline field for the $200,000 Audobon for 3-year-olds on the grass. 

Hastings Park. Race 3. 6:00. Heidi prepped for the $50,000 Emerald Downs Stakes with a victory on a sloppy track last time. She looks tough in 6 1/2-furlong two-turn stakes for fillies and mares.

Hawthorne Race Course. Race 8. 6:45. Strategic Bird makes suburban Chicago her latest stop after a victory last time out at Mahoning Valley for Mark Casse. Listed at 6-1 here for the $75,000 Crestwood Stakes, she’s also run at Gulfstream and Tampa this year.

Santa Anita. Race 6. 6:45. Another Cal-bred or Cal-sired maiden at 5 furlongs.

Wyoming Downs. Race 10. 6:50. The finale of the Opening Day card in Evanston, the $13,000 Inaugural Handicap at 6 furlongs.

Santa Anita. Race 7. 7:17. Yet another 3-year-old stakes on the grass. The $100,000 Cinema at 9 furlongs features Balnikhov, second in the Grade 2 American Turf on Kentucky Derby Day, and Eddie Logan winner Cabo Spirit.

Evangeline Downs. Race 3. 7:24. The first stakes on Louisiana Legends Day, the $75,000 Louisiana Legends Soiree for 3-year-old fillies at 1 mile. Free Like A Girl, fourth to Secret Oath last time out in the Honeybee, brings 2-for-2 mark on the track and a 5-for-7 mark against state-breds to the table.

Hastings. Race 6. 7:30. The open equivalent to the prior stakes, the $50,000 George Royal. Anyportinastorm, seventh in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby at Del Mar in 2020, 8-year-old son of City Zip makes his local debut in field of 10.

Evangeline. Race 4. 7:51. Field of eight for $75,000 Louisiana Legends Cheval for 3-year-olds at 1 mile. Jeff Delhomme will be tough with Touchuponastar and Play Mo, but Tom Amoss probably has the winner in Maggi Moss’ More Memories.

Evangeline. Race 5. 8:18. Switch to the grass for the $75,000 Louisiana Legends Turf Distaff. Offspring won it last year and is back, along with 2021 third Net A Bear.

Evangeline. Race 6. 8:46. Good old Star Guitar. He’s represented here in the $75,000 Louisiana Legends Mademoiselle by Brittlyn Stable homebreds Ova Charged, 5-for-6 in her career and no doubt the one to beat, and Spirited Beauty.

Evangeline. Race 7. 9:13. Bertie’s Galaxy returns to defend crown against 11 others in the $75,000 Louisiana Legends Sprint.

Prairie Meadows. Race 6. 9:15. Ain’t Life Grand, a stakes winner in Altoona last year and fourth in the Bachelor Stakes last time out at Oaklawn, meets five other Iowa-bred sophomores in the $65,000 Gray’s Lake.

Evangeline. Race 8. 9:40. Another field of 12 for the $75,000 Louisiana Legends Turf at 1 1/16 miles on the grass.

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Tom Law

Tom Law is the managing editor of ST Publishing, Inc., parent company of and The Saratoga Special. He lives in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
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