The Saturday Special – March 25

- -
Country Grammer returns to Meydan from the United States to defend title in Saturday’s Dubai World Cup. Dubai Racing Club Photo.

Spring is here and we couldn’t be more thankful. The first full week of the new season packs a big punch, with the start of the National Steeplechase Association season, Dubai World Cup, Louisiana Derby Day, Jeff Ruby Steaks, New York Claiming Championship and so much more on tap. We’ve got it all and more covered here in The Special.

The day starts early and with a bang overseas with the loaded Dubai World Cup Day card. There aren’t many Americans in the races, but Country Grammer could come away with back-to-back wins in the headliner for the U.S.

Once things move stateside it’s New Orleans that takes center stage – as it often should – with key preps for the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks on tap at Fair Grounds. We’ll watch the races and dream about the po boys, crawfish etouffee and gumbo from the couch.

Here’s your primer for Saturday, March 25. Good luck.

Names of the Day

Giada. Turfway Park. Race 6. Godolphin’s homebred filly is out of Tasteful.

Bezos. Aqueduct. Race 8. The 5-year-old is by Empire Maker.

Breakwater. Gulfstream Park. Race 6. The 4-year-old colt is by Flatter out of Quiet Harbor.

By the Numbers

9: Days it took Telhimlisten to win four races. From March 6 to March 15, the 7-year-old scored over hurdles at Southwell, Warwick, Sedgefield and Huntingdon. Sent off the favorite in each race, he produced 8 ½ miles of perfection. The Jennie Candish trainee was on his way to five wins in 17 days when he lost Sean Quinlan after the last in a match race at Sedgefield.

Bets of the Day

Newbury. Race 1. 9:30 a.m. We’ll try Kaleb one more time. He’s the longest shot on the board.

Newbury. Race 2. 10:05 a.m. We played a Super Six and Honneur D’Ajonc exacta at Hereford in January only to see Super Six lug it away. He’s back going left-handed, and we’ll go back in again.

As for the races …

Dubai. Race 2. 8:05 a.m. The Godolphin Mile kicks off the Thoroughbred action on a star-studded night.

Dubai. Race 3. 8:40. Siskany, Ardakan and Al Nayyir finished 1-2-3 in the Nad Al Sheba Trophy going 1 3/4 miles in February. They stretch to 2 miles in the Dubai Gold Cup.

Dubai. Race 4. 9:15. Brendan Walsh sends out Nearctic winner Cazadero for the Al Quoz Sprint. Al Dasim, a 3-year-old making his 12th career start, rides a five-race win streak into a massive test.

Newbury. Race 1. 9:30. Solid card of jump racing starts here with a novice hurdle. Come back every 35 minutes for the likes of Riders Onthe Storm, Ruby Island, Monsier Lecoq and Cyclop.

Dubai. Race 5. 9:50. Ah Jeez, Tall Boy and Worcester represent America in the UAE Derby.

Dubai. Race 6. 10:25. Jeremiah O’Dwyer tabs Ryan Moore for Sibelius in the Dubai Golden Shaheen. Switzerland is still going strong, the 9-year-old closes in on $2 million in earnings.

Kelso. Race 3. 11:00. Here’s $60,000 for the novice fillies and mares who swerved Cheltenham.

Dubai. Race 7. 11:10. Lord North won his prep for the Dubai Turf. Junko has impressed us for Andre Fabre. Nations Pride starred in Saratoga last summer.

Curragh. Race 5. 11:57. Henry De Bromhead, better known for his National Hunt expoits, sends out Star Girls Aalmal in the Group 3 Irish EBF Express Stakes.

Dubai. Race 8. Noon. Japanese star Equinox should keep rolling it the Longines Dubai Sheema Classic. Rebel’s Romance makes his first start since winning the Breeders’ Cup Turf.

Dubai. Race 9. 12:35 p.m. The big one. The Dubai World Cup sponsored by Emirates Airlines. Seven Japanese-breds aim at upsetting Kentucky-bred Country Grammer in the $12 million stakes. Panthalassa did just that in the Saudi Cup. The 6-year-old son of Lord Kanaloa drew the outside post, just to the right of Country Grammer in the 15-runner gem.

Turfway Park. Race 1. 12:45. Biggest day of the year in Northern Kentucky. It’s gone by many names over the years and now it’s Jeff Ruby Steaks Day. Go to the races and after head to Cincinnati (or Louisville or Lexington) to Ruby’s. You won’t regret it.

Fair Grounds. Race 1. 1:00. The $100,000 Crescent City Derby kicks off monster 15-race Louisiana Derby Day card. Whew, monster day. Stay hydrated.

Aqueduct. Race 1. 1:20. The New York Claiming Championship begins with the $55,000 Videogenic. These races are starter stakes, and this 7-furlong event is for fillies and mares who started for $12,500 or less in 2022-23.

Fair Grounds. Race 3. 2:00. Free Drop Maddy, unbeaten in three starts in New Orleans, looks tough in the $100,000 Crescent City Oaks.

Gulfstream Park. Race 4. 2:08. Early stakes on the card, the $100,000 Texas Glitter going 5 furlongs on the grass.

Fair Grounds. Race 4. 2:30. Switch to the grass for the $100,000 Costa Rising for Louisiana-breds going 5 1/2 furlongs.

Aqueduct. Race 5. 3:25. Mike Maker, the king of the Claiming Crown, should add another win in similar series with Good Skate in the co-featured $75,000 Stud Muffin, for 4-year-olds and up which have started for $25,000 or less in 2022-23.

Turfway. Race 7. 3:43. The $250,000 Animal Kingdom kicks off the stakes portion of the card. How about that purse?

Santa Anita Park. Race 1. 4:00. Rains washed away Friday’s card and turf racing – including the 1-mile maiden opener – could be in jeopardy. Check the forecast.

Turfway. Race 8. 4:13. The $250,000 Rushaway for 3-year-olds not quite ready for the headliner, but a good spot to get things rolling for later down the road or to start over.

Aqueduct. Race 7. 4:26. Easy Dayreturns to New York from Parx for the $50,000 Dads Caps, for 4-year-olds and up that have started for $10,000 or less in 2022-23. 

Fair Grounds. Race 8. 4:32. Field of 10 led by Adventuring, Didia and She Can’t Sing for the $100,000 Tom Benson Memorial for fillies and mares on the grass.

Turfway. Race 9. 4:43. Candy Raid won last year’s Bourbonette Oaks and now she’s back to try the $250,000 Latonia. She’ll need to improve on comeback race last month against the likes of Idiomatic, Il Malocchio, Kate’s Kingdom, Grand Ave Girl and Bellamore.

Aqueduct. Race 8. 5:00. Big field of 11 for the $65,000 Peeping Tom, for 4-year-olds and up that have started for $20,000 or less in 2022-23.

Fair Grounds. Race 9. 5:04. Art Collector, winner of the Pegasus World Cup in late January and rated as America’s best horse, headlines $500,000 New Orleans Classic. Bruce Lunsford’s homebred ran lights out at Gulfstream and will be extremely tough for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, against a solid group that includes West Will Power, Pioneer Of Medina and Mr. Wireless.

Gulfstream. Race 10. 5:06. Bedtime Story puts 3-for-3 mark on the line in the $100,000 Melody of Colors Stakes for 3-year-old fillies sprinting on the turf.

Turfway. Race 10. 5:13. Looking at the entries for the $300,000 Twinspires Kentucky Cup Classic we expected to see Cross Border. He’s off to a second career and goes jumping at the Aiken Steeplechase. Fear now though, Wolfie’s Dynaghost shows up, along with Santin, King Cause and Abaan.

Aqueduct. Race 9. 5:32. Know It All Audrey, second less than two weeks ago in the Biogio’s Rose Stakes, part of the big field for the co-featured $75,000 Sis City, for older fillies and mares that have started for $25,000 or less in 2022-23.

Fair Grounds. Race 10. 5:36. Speaking of the Pegasus World Cup, Atone makes his first start since winning the Turf here in the $300,000 Muniz Memorial Classic Stakes presented by Horse Racing Nation.A strong group awaits, including Two Emmys, Gentle Soul, Spooky Channel and Another Mystery.

Turfway. Race 11. 5:43. Botanical dominated in the prep and now goes favored in the $300,000 Bourbonette Oaks. Flashy Gem and Ag Bullet try to avoid it being a layup.

Aqueduct. Race 6. 6:04. The $60,000More to Tell, for 4-year-olds and up that have started for $16,000 or less in 2022-23, closes the card.

Fair Grounds. Race 11. 6:08. Serious points – including 100 to the winner – toward the Kentucky Oaks here in the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks presented by Fasig-Tipton. Pretty Mischievous is already all but in, off victories in the Untapable and Grade 2 Rachel Alexandra, and she looks to make it three in a row here for Godolphin and Brendan Walsh. The Alys Look finished second to the favorite two back then won the Silverbulletday. She could be tough off the layoff, while Hoosier Philly tries to live up to the hype and get back on track.

Turfway. Race 12. 6:25. The featured Grade 3 Jeff Ruby Steaks, which offers a $700,000 purse and 100 points to the winner toward a spot in the Kentucky Derby field. The race doesn’t often influence the opening jewel of the Triple Crown, just occasionally (looking at you Animal Kingdom) but still an important stop on the road. Todd Pletcher ships Major Dude in from his Palm Beach Downs base and sends son of Bolt d’Oro on synthetic for the first time off victory in Grade 3 turf stakes. He’ll be tough from the rail under Irad Ortiz Jr. Don’t ignore Wadsworth, a member of Brad Cox’s Fasig-Tipton Stable Tour last summer at Saratoga who has found new life on the synthetic.

Oaklawn Park. Race 10. 6:25. Bill Mott ships Socially Selective, impressive winner of her lone start back in mid-August at Saratoga, to Hot Springs for the $150,000 Purple Martin. Solid field of six also includes the 2-for-2 Topsy for Steve Asmussen, stakes winner Key Of Life for Brad Cox and last-out stakes winner Klassy Bridgette for Chris Hartman.

Fair Grounds. Race 12. 6:42. The main event, the $1 million Louisiana Derby. Instant Coffee, winner of the Grade 3 Lecomte, didn’t scare anyone off as a field of 12 lines up looking for Kentucky Derby points. Legitimate cases can be made for many, including Iroquois winner Curly Jack, Risen Star runner-up Sun Thunder, Kingsbarns, Cagliostro and Dennington.

Santa Anita. Race 8. 7:37. Elm Drive, back on the West Coast after a pair of starts in New York and Maryland last year, takes on Stella Noir, Dance To The Music and two others in the Grade 3 Desert Stormer.

Fair Grounds. Race 15. 8:05. More than seven hours after it started, the card comes to a close with state-bred maiden for 3-year-old fillies.