The Saturday Special – March 30

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The final Saturday in March offers racing fans everything they could ask for – a star-studded Dubai World Cup program from Meydan, Florida Derby Day at Gulfstream and the continued return at Santa Anita Park.

Buckle up for this day of action, which starts early and goes late. Mix in a couple Elite Eight games from the NCAA tournament and maybe some early spring baseball and there aren’t many reasons to get off the couch. Aside from the usual chores and some spring cleaning of course, but all that can wait until Sunday.

The action from Dubai starts at 7:45 a.m. ET with a $1 million Arabian stakes and goes right through the $12 million main event at 12:40 p.m. Gulfstream will already be three races into its 14-race extravaganza by then and the Florida Derby goes as the finale at 6:36 p.m.

Santa Anita, beset with issues after a rash of breakdowns this winter, reopened with an eight-race card topped by the rescheduled San Luis Rey on the grass Friday and rolls out 10 races Saturday, including the Grade 1 Frank E. Kilroe Mile and three other important stakes.

Let’s dig in. Here’s your primer for Saturday, March 30. Enjoy and good luck.

Meydan. Race 1. 7:45 a.m. Get up early and get started on the weekend’s best card. Arabians kick if off for a cool $1 million. Tallaab Al Khalediah puts his undefeated record on the line.

Meydan. Race 2. 8:15. Muntazah, winner of his last two by a combined 14 1/2 lengths, goes even money in the Godolphin Mile. Coal Front, 6-for-8 in his career, ventures from a win in the Razorback.

Meydan. Race 3. 8:50. Cross Counter makes his first start since winning the Melbourne Cup in November, taking on nine rivals in the Dubai Gold Cup going 2 miles.

Meydan. Race 4. 9:30. Sands Of Mali, purchased by Matt Coleman of Stroud Coleman Bloodstock, finished last season with a Group 1 win at Ascot in December. The 4-year-old clashes with Stormy Liberal and Blue Point, 2-for-2 over the local track this winter.

Kempton. Race 1. 9:35. Sucellus, a promising son of Dansili, makes his second start for John Gosden.

Navan. Race 1. 9:45. Stakes-placed filly Mistress Of Venice, still a maiden, takes on 21 rivals, including sons of War Front, Street Cry and No Nay Never, in the opener.

Doncaster. Race 1. 9:50. The turf season is upon us. The Unibet Cammidge Trophy rings the bell.

Meydan. Race 5. 10:05. Any Kentucky Derby contenders in this year’s UAE Derby? Well, there wasn’t last year either! Brendan Walsh travels with Plus Que Parfait, 13th in the Risen Star in his most recent start. Divine Image dominated his most recent starts.

Kempton. Race 2. 10:05. Mootasadir rides a three-race win streak into the Matchbook Magnolia Stakes. Matterhorn can top that, he’s on a five-race win streak.

Doncaster. Race 2. 10:25. A Sods Law and Exec Chief exacta would buy breakfast.

Meydan. Race 6. 10:40. The Dubai Golden Shaheen lost favorite Roy H with a foot abscess. That opens doors for the other Americans Imperial Hint, X T Jet, Switzerland and Promises Fulfilled.

Navan. Race 3. 10:50. The venerable Gordon Lord Byron makes his 11-year-old debut and 94th start of his career in the Cork Stakes. He’s closing in on £2 million in earnings.

Doncaster. Race 3. 11:00. Eclectic group converge for the Doncaster Mile Stakes. Givinitsum is 2-for-2 in South Africa, Sharja Bridge beat 19 rivals at Ascot in October, Circus Couture finished eighth in the Arlington Million.

Meydan. Race 7. 11:20. Almond Eye, a once-beaten Japanese raider, looks strong in the Dubai Turf. John and Tanya Gunther’s Without Parole won the St. James’s Palace in June but tailed off in his final three starts in 2018. Off the bench, look out.

Gulfstream Park. Race 1. 11:30. The opener is claimer on the grass, for older horses offered for a $16,000 tag and running for a $40,000 purse.

Doncaster. Race 4. 11:35. Ah, the traditional turf opening day handicap. The Unibet Lincoln. Twenty-two strong. Hand over the darts.

Meydan. Race 8. Noon. Old Persian owns seven wins, including one in the Dubai City of Gold over several Longines Dubai Sheema Classic rivals. Magic Wand chased Bricks And Mortar at Gulfstream Park.

Gulfstream. Race 2. Noon. Florida-bred optional claimer attracts field of 12 led by Vincero and Transistor. How about Jalen Journey for a mild upset?

Doncaster. Race 5: 12:10 p.m. The first 2-year-old race of the turf season. Seventeen line up. Any clockers’ report?

Gulfstream. Race 3. 12:30. Ownitifyouwantit improved off debut when second last time and shortens up in this 1-mile maiden for 3-year-olds. And Seek might also appreciate the cutback in distance while No Rules will enjoy the added ground off his 6-furlong debut.

Meydan. Race 9. 12:40. Remember when Cigar won the Dubai World Cup? That was iconic, this one, well, there’s $12 million on the line for American hopes Gunnevera, Audible, Seeking The Soul and Yoshida. As for the rest of the world, Thunder Snow tries to win back-to-back editions of the World Cup.

Doncaster. Race 6. 12:45. Ironclad is ironclad in here. 

Gulfstream. Race 4. 1:00. First stakes of the day in South Florida is Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Mile. Prince Lucky is 2-5 on the line against five that appear way overmatched.

Aqueduct. Race 1. 1:30. The Claiming Championship opens with the $45,000 Belle Gallanty for older fillies and mares who started for $8,000 or less in 2018-2019.

Gulfstream. Race 5. 1:30. Back to the grass for $125,000 Cutler Bay at 1 mile for 3-year-olds. Only a field of seven and Fair Grounds shipper Marquee Prince is the one to beat.

Gulfstream. Race 6. 2:00. Three-year-old fillies take their turn in $125,000 Sanibel Island at the same trip as the prior race. Belle Laura gave Norm Casse his first Breeders’ Cup starter last fall; perhaps daughter of Mucho Macho Man will be his first stakes winner.

Aqueduct. Race 2. 2:03. Bow Town Cat, claimed last time out for $16,000 at Parx, is one of the top contenders in $55,000 Videogenic for older fillies and mares who started for $12,500 or less in 2018-2019.

Tampa Bay Downs. Race 5. 2:20. Vouch’s last two starts came against Catholic Boy (in the Grade 2 Remsen) and Magnum Moon (in an optional claimer). Son of Yes It’s True will need to overcome layoff of more than 13 months and handle the grass in his return for Arnaud Delacour.

Gulfstream. Race 7. 2:30. Stay on the grass for 3-year-old filly maiden. Niko’s Dream made an appearance in Barclay Tagg’s Fasig-Tipton Stable Tour last summer. She’s run well in three of four starts and looks to graduate in this 1 1/16-mile event.

Aqueduct. Race 3. 2:40. The $45,000 Dads Caps is for 4-year-olds and up who started for $8,000 or less in 2018-2019.

Gulfstream. Race 8. 3:00. Dunbar Road vs. Point Of Honor in Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks right? Don’t sleep on Cookie Dough.

Aqueduct. Race 4. 3:15. Win With Pride, a winner of four of his last six dating back to September, looks tough in $70,000 Peeping Tom for older horses who started for $20,000 or less in 2018-2019. Bon Raison, sixth last time in the Grade 3 Tom Fool Handicap, should appreciate the class relief.

Gulfstream. Race 9. 3:34. Mark Casse unveils Go For A Ride, son of Candy Rise who cost $525,000 at last year’s OBS April sale, in 1 1/16-mile turf maiden. Many of the key players are represented, including Bill Mott with Overbold and Chad Brown with Machine Learning. Scattered Strikes, a first-time starter by Scat Daddy, goes out for Graham Motion and Sam-Son Farm.

Aqueduct. Race 5. 3:47. The $60,000 Sis City, named for the winner of the Grade 1 Ashland in 2005, for older females who started for $16,000 or less in 2018-2019. We’ll go with Daria’s Angel, first or second in all six of her starts at the Big A.

Santa Anita Park. Race 1. 4:00. Back in action at the Great Race Place. The opener is optional claimer going 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside course.

Gulfstream. Race 10. 4:17. Valedictorian is as consistent as they come, only worse than second once in last 10 starts going back to January 2018. She’ll be tough in $100,000 Sand Springs at 1 mile on the grass.

Aqueduct. Race 6. 4:17. The $55,000 Kelly Kip – we can’t get enough Kelly Kip – for 4-year-olds and up who started for $12,500 or less in 2018-2019.

Oaklawn Park. Race 6. 4:48. Adulator, claimed last summer at Saratoga for $50,000, tries to right the ship when he runs for the same price in two-turn optional that also draws Fight On, Shut The Box and On Patrol.

Gulfstream. Race 11. 4:49. Restoring Home, the so-called “blocker” in last year’s Belmont Stakes, makes first start for Jason Servis in 7-furlong optional claimer. He hasn’t been out since finishing eighth in the Belmont and wouldn’t be fauled for needing one.

Aqueduct. Race 7. 4:50. Bigger events are starting to rev up on the Claiming Championship card. Here’s the $75,000 Xtra Heat for fillies and mares who started for $25,000 or less in 2018-2019.

Aqueduct. Race 8. 5:21. It’s been a while since Fiery Opal ran for a tag – all the way back to May 2018 – and he looks tough in $60,000 More To Tell for 4-year-olds and up who started for $16,000 or less in 2018-2019.

Oaklawn. Race 7. 5:22. Speed App returns to maiden ranks after splitting field in Grade 3 Jeff Ruby Steaks March 9 at Turfway. Same for Night Ops, eighth in the Grade 3 Lecomte last time.

Gulfstream. Race 12. 5:26. Canadian classic winner Neepawa is 6-1 on the line for 1-mile optional claimer on the grass. We’ll take that with John Velazquez all day even though the field is no gimme.

Aqueduct. Race 9. 5:50. The $75,000 Stud Muffin for 4-year-olds and up who started for $25,000 or less in 2018-2019 stretches them out to 11 furlongs. Old man Turco Bravo meets Devine Dental for the second straight start.

Oaklawn. Race 8. 6:00. Ron Moquett risked Pryor for $50,000 at Keeneland last October and he won by 6 lengths. He’s set for return, not for a tag, in 6-furlong optional.

Gulfstream. Race 13. 6:00. Soglio, who just missed in W.L. McKnight on yielding ground back on Pegasus Day, and multiple graded stakes winner Bigger Picture are strong 1-2 punch for Mike Maker in Grade 2 Pan American.

Santa Anita. Race 5. 6:17. The $400,000 Frank E. Kilroe Mile, rescheduled from the postponed Santa Anita Handicap Day card, marks California return of Catapult and Next Shares. They both ran in the Pegasus World Cup Turf, finishing fourth and seventh respectively.

Aqueduct. Race 10. 6:20. The finale and featured $80,000 Caixa Eletronica, named for one of the true modern legends of the Big A, is for 4-year-olds and up who started for $40,000 or less in in 2018-2019. A dozen line up, including Bavaro, Mr. Dougie Fresh, Hoffenheim, Rockinn On Bye and American Power.

Oaklawn. Race 9. 6:36. Bye Bye J looks like the one to beat in $150,000 Purple Martin. Second in the Grade 3 Forward Gal in February, she won a state-bred optional in her first start for Ron Moquett 16 days ago.

Gulfstream. Race 14. 6:36. The $1 million Xpressbet Florida Derby, the main event featuring Hidden Scroll, Code Of Honor and Bourbon War. They all met in the Fountain of Youth, with Code Of Honor benefiting from a quick early pace. Will he get it again? The winner gets 100 points toward a spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate.

Santa Anita. Race 6. 6:58. Dr. Dorr, one of two along with Ax Man for Bob Baffert, shortens up and returns from long layoff for Grade 2 San Carlos. Solid Wager is also back on the West Coast after two outs this winter at Aqueduct, including a win in the Grade 3 Toboggan.

Santa Anita. Race 7. 7:28. Older fillies and mares stretch out to 10 furlongs in Grade 3 Santa Ana. Elysea’s World tries to get back on track after sixth in Grade 2 Buena Visa against an easier group.

Santa Anita. Race 9. 8:28. Four of the first five from the Grade 2 Santa Monica – Marley’s Freedom, Selcourt, Mopotism and Paradise Woods – stretch out from 7 furlongs in Grade 1 Beholder Mile.

Santa Anita. Race 10. 8:58. Close the day with 6 1/2-furlong maiden down the hill for 3-year-old fillies.

Turfway Park. Race 7. 9:33. Featured event on final Saturday card for a while in Northern Kentucky – Keeneland opens Thursday – is 6-furlong maiden for 3-year-old fillies. Surely it’s graduation time for Speight’s Comete, second by a nose in her last two for Linda Rice.