The Saturday Special – Nov. 23

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The holidays are on the way and there’s no surer sign than another light slate of stakes action across North America.

Thanksgiving Weekend provides the main course next week with loaded cards at several spots including Aqueduct, Churchill Downs and Del Mar. The fourth Saturday in November serves as a lead-in, with a smattering of stakes at Aqueduct, Delta Downs, Mahoning Valley and Woodbine to keep you occupied.

The National Hunt season rolls along overseas with jump racing at Ascot, Gowran Park, Haydock and Huntingdon and flat racing on the synthetic at Lingfield and Wolverhampton.

Now the slate doesn’t seem so light. There’s plenty to keep you busy in between cleaning the house, shopping for the big feast and watching college football.

Here’s the primer for Saturday, Nov. 23. Happy Thanksgiving. Take care and good luck.

Haydock. Race 1. 7:05. A strong listed novice hurdle kicks off another strong card at Haydock. Tab any and all for March madness.

Ascot. Race 1. 7:20. How would you like to enter Vinnie Dev, a winner of his only start over hurdles, in a novice hurdle at Ascot and wind up facing 10-year-old Valtor, a five-time winner of $483,866. His last run? An 18th in the Grand National in April. Yes, that Grand National.

Ascot. Race 4. 9:05. Altior. The one and only Altior makes his return. The 9-year-old is undefeated in 19 starts over hurdles and fences. He faces a tactical gem against six-time Cyrname, winner of his last two by a combined 38 lengths. Solomon Grey completes the field.

Gowran Park. Race 5. 9:10. Wow, this is an allowance race. Grade 1 performers Getabird, Mengli Khan and Paloma Blue clash in a restricted chase. Ring the bell.

Ascot. Race 5. 9:40. Lil Rockerfeller returns to hurdling in the Grade 2 Coral Hurdle. The Pennsylvania-bred is 11-for-44 in his stellar career.

Gowran Park. Race 6. 9:45. Imagine the schooling sessions at Willie Mullins this summer and fall. Grade 1 hurdle winner Laurina makes her chasing debut.

Haydock. Race 6. 10:00. Wow, this is a humdinger. Veterans Ballyoptic, Bristol De Mai, Frodon and relative upstart/star Lostintranslation clash in the race of the day (well, other than Altior…). Lostintranslation looks squarely on the cusp of becoming a Gold Cup horse.

Mahoning Valley Race Course. Race 2. 12:42. Edge Of Night and Cristalinda, well-beaten in the John W. Galbreath last time, are short prices in $75,000 Glacial Princess for 2-year-old Ohio-bred fillies.

Aqueduct. Race 3. 12:54. Kerry’s Ring puts consistent record to test off short freshening in two-turn state-bred allowance for fillies and mares. Myhartblongstodady looks to do the same off an even longer layoff.

Gulfstream Park West. Race 3. 1:52. Wesley Ward sends out Miss Lucy in 5-furlong optional for 2-year-old fillies early on final Saturday of the meet before racing shifts back to Hallandale for the Championship Meet.

Churchill Downs. Race 3. 2:00. How about the purses in Kentucky? Here’s a 5-furlong turf sprint allowance worth $105,000. For 2-year-olds no less.

Laurel Park. Race 5. 2:18. Arnaud Delacour tries the dirt for Constitution cold Law Of The Land after two good starts on the grass going two turns. He’s one of several in 1-mile maiden that look well placed, along with Phantom Dance, Yukon Eric and Prevail Upon.

Aqueduct. Race 6. 2:20. Telephone Talker ran well in debut sprinting on the dirt at Keeneland. Now son of Wicked Strong goes two turns on the grass.

Laurel. Race 6. 2:51. Veteran New York-bred stakes winner Celtic Chaos takes show on the road for 7 1/2-furlong optional.

Mahoning Valley. Race 7. 3:02. Older Ohio-breds meet in $75,000 Ruff/Kirchberg Memorial Handicap. Jeffrey Radosevich holds strong hand with Verissimo and Mobile Solution but Tim Hamm probably has the one to beat in 125-pound highweight Leona’s Reward.

Aqueduct. Race 8. 3:20. Cleverly named I’llhandalthecash, who appeared in trainer Ray Handal’s Fasig-Tipton Stable Tour last summer in Saratoga, picks up Joel Rosario for optional turf sprint where she just missed last time.

Parx Racing. Race 8. 3:34. Fielder goes back to the main track – he’s 4-for-11 on the dirt at Parx – for 6-furlong optional that also draws Share The Ride, Smooth B, Fort Fortitude and Long May You Run.

Aqueduct. Race 9. 3:47. Named for one of our heroes, the Grade 3 Red Smith going long on the grass brings together Grade 1 winners Sadler’s Joy and Glorious Empire, Canadian shipper Tiz A Slam, European import Petit Fils, the 1-2-3 finishers from Keeneland’s Grade 3 Sycamore in Marzo, Nakamura and Postulation and distance specialist Red Knight. We think the late sports-writing legend would like this one.

Churchill. Race 7. 4:06. Gold Street looks to break maiden in start No. 4 from outside post in 2-year-old maiden going 6 furlongs. Trained by Steve Asmussen, son of Street Boss exits back-to-back seconds at Churchill and Keeneland.

Gulfstream Park West. Race 8. 4:24. Souper Jackpot, fifth at 2-1 in the Jerome way back on New Year’s Day at Aqueduct, makes return for Mark Casse in 6-furlong state-bred optional that also features veteran Delta Bluesman.

Woodbine. Race 8. 4:41. The legend, Pink Lloyd, returns for first time since stewards said he didn’t get a fair start when fourth in Grade 3 Bold Venture in mid-September in the Grade 2 Kennedy Road. He won 2017 edition and finished second in 2016. Brendan Walsh ships Extravagant Kid in from Kentucky for another run at the champ.

Del Mar. Race 4. 5:00. Del Mar May returns after seventh at 6-1 in Grade 2 Eight Belles on Kentucky Oaks Day undercard at Churchill. She finished second in two starts at Del Mar at 2 and should be tough in 6 1/2-furlong optional for Richard Baltas.

Churchill. Race 9. 5:06. A dozen 2-year-olds entered for two-turn maiden.

Turf Paradise. Race 6. 5:12. Robertino Diodoro is everywhere it seems. He sends out Gato Guapo here in the $30,000 Walter R. Cluer Memorial, a 1-mile turf stakes with a field of 11.

Woodbine. Race 9. 5:13. Eight Ontario-breds entered for $225,000 Coronation Futurity, including $600,000 Speightstown yearling Halo Again for Steve Asmussen, Cup and Saucer winner Muskoka Gold for Mark Casse and Cup and Saucer runner-up Pleasecallmeback for Roger Attfield.

Churchill. Race 10. 5:36. One-mile turf allowance goes as the day’s “feature.” Kadar found the company a bit tough in back-to-back Derby attempts in New York and should fare better here for Mike Maker, along with Chewing Gum for Bill Mott, Midnight Oasis for Brian Lynch and Red Island for Phil D’Amato.

Del Mar. Race 6. 6:00. Garth went to the post 4-1 in the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity and finished well back after battling for the lead. Godolphin homebred son of Into Mischief fits better in 6-furlong maiden for Bob Baffert. Don Chatlos unveils OXO Equine’s Snap Chap, a steady worker at Saratoga and Belmont this summer and fall and a $1.2 million son of Into Mischief.

Churchill. Race 11. 6:06. Don’t hit the exits just yet, two-turn maiden for 2-year-olds closes the card. We like Bourbon Wisdom because, well, who doesn’t get a little wisdom after some bourbon?

Turf Paradise. Race 8. 6:13. Fillies and mares get their turn in the $30,000 Queen of the Green Stakes, also at 1 mile on the turf.

Del Mar. Race 8. 7:00. Roadster meets the top three from the Comma To The Top Stakes – Midcourt, Two Thirty Five and Leading Score – and others in Grade 3 Native Diver. Roadster couldn’t get past Flagstaff in long stretch battle last time in Damascus Stakes on the Breeders’ Cup Saturday card at Santa Anita but definitely needed that one.

Golden Gate Fields. Race 8. 7:18. Blaine Wright, who nearly upset the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile with Peter Redekop BC Ltd.’s Anneau d’Or, sends out American Pharoah first-time starter A. P. Pharoah for same connections in 1-mile turf maiden for 2-year-olds.

Delta Downs. Race 8. 9:11. Way back when the Jean Lafitte used to be known as the Jean Lafitte Futurity and was the first stakes of the season for 2-year-olds in North America. Now it’s toward the end of the season and a 1-mile stakes worth $100,000. Ken McPeek ships in last-out Keeneland allowance winner Sir Winsalot and looks to spoil it for the home team.