The clock is ticking down to the 2017 Breeders’ Cup World Championships – less than three weeks from Saturday – and the show goes on across North America with a powerful renewal of the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland taking top billing.
Just a smattering of other stakes around the country – the Grade 3 Futurity at Belmont Park and the West Virginia Breeders’ Classic Day at Charles Town Races among them. The Saturday Special presented by Pin Oak Stud covers all the action, including the Group 1 Darley Dewhurst at Newmarket and other overseas racing.
Here’s your primer for Saturday, Oct. 14. Enjoy and good luck.
Randwick. 1:15 a.m. Get up early or go to bed late, either one, watch the Everest, the world’s richest turf race. The world’s highest rated sprinter Chautaqua, Golden Slipper winner She Will Reign and five other Group 1 winners clash in the big one.
Caulfield. 1:30 a.m. The Ladbrokes Caulfield Guineas tops off a stellar card that includes three Group one stakes.
Newmarket. Race 1. 8:50. Strong card kicks off with the Godolphin Flying Start Zetland Stakes. Kew Gardens looks to unleash another strong invasion day for Smith, Magnier, Tabor, Moore and O’Brien.
Newmarket. Race 2. 9:25. Purser, an American-bred son of Mizzen Mast, looks strong in the Group 3 Masar Godolphin Autumn Stakes.
York. Race 2. 9:40. Shabaaby, a son of Kyllachy, has gotten better in each start and could make it three in a row here.
Newmarket. Race 3. 10:00. The Group 1 Darley Dewhurst Stakes. Emaraaty, a 2.6 million guineas yearling, makes his third career start. U S Navy Flag won the Juddmonte Middle Park at Newmarket in September. How about Cardsharp? He makes his 10th start of his 2-year-old season.
Chepstow. Race 3. 10:05. Well, hello again. Grade 1 winning hurdler Finian’s Oscar makes his chase debut for Colin Tizzard. The four-time winner takes on Alcala, who rides a five-race win streak into this rumble. Is your Arkle winner here?
York. Race 3. 10:15. Upstaging will have his day here in this $123,000 handicap.
Chepstow. Race 4. 10:35. Promising 4-year-olds Dolos, Dino Velvet, Champagne City and eight others begin their National Hunt season. We like Silver Streak at a price.
Newmarket. Race 4. 10:40. Our favorite race. The Betfred Cesarewitch Handicap starts in Norfolk and finishes in Sussex. That’s what happens when horses stretch 2 ¼ miles. This year’s edition attracts 36 entries, ranging from 136-pound Fun Mac to 113-pound Percy Veer. If we weren’t stuck with the mutuel field, we’d box Endless Acres, Snow Falcon, London Prize, Landsman and Withhold.
Chepstow. Race 5. 11:10. Wholestone, Bags Groove, Alary…it’s time for the proper National Hunt season.
Chepstow. Race 6. 11:45. Colin Tizzard continues his curtain raiser, sending out highly –regarded Sizing Codelco in this handicap chase.
Newmarket. Race 6. 11:50. Thafeera, a daughter of War Front, seeks her fourth win a row.
York. Race 6. 12:00. Alan King’s Coeur De Lion ran hard against stablemate Who Dares Wins in the Cesarewitch Trial. Who Dares Wins goes for the big one at Newmarket while Coeur De Lion goes conservatively in this 2-mile handicap.
Newmarket. Race 7. 12:25. Monarchs Glen, a son of Frankel, should continue to improve as he takes on 11 rivals in the Group 3 Darley Club Stakes.
Kempton. Race 6. 3:15. Good or bad, the handicap system in Britain is fascinating. The $23,500 Class 2 handicap attracts a spectrum of contenders, from eight-time winning 8-year-old Bronze Angel to 3-year-old Reach High, who makes his third career start.
Parx Racing. Race 4. 2:16. High Risk Strategy tries maiden special weight company after runner-up effort for $50,000 tag at Saratoga Aug. 21. Son of Union Rags one of eight entered for 1-mile maiden on the main track.
Belmont Park. Race 4. 2:34. Vigor just missed in similar spot in late August at Saratoga and looks for allowance win going 6 furlongs on the grass for Bill Mott.
Parx. Race 5. 2:43. Mills, claimed for $40,000 at Saratoga Aug. 19, makes second allowance start in Philly for Bruce Levine and Repole Stable.
Keeneland Race Course. Race 5. 3:18. Our man Tobias runs back on a week’s rest in 1 1/16-mile allowance for Rae Fernandez, shortening up from 1 1/2 miles against the likes of Morocco, Hollow Point and Space Mountain.
Belmont. Race 6. 3:40. Smooth Move, homebred son of More Than Ready, makes debut in state-bred 2-year-old maiden on the grass. He’s 8-1 on the morning line for Linda Rice. Smart money says anything close to that is worth a bet.
Keeneland. Race 6. 3:51. Kilroy Was Here, third in debut behind Engage in Saratoga’s final card of 2017, makes second start for Al Stall Jr. going 6 1/2 furlongs.
Belmont. Race 7. 4:13. Spring To The Sky exits back-to-back stakes efforts and drops in for $62,500 in 6-furlong allowance-optional.
Keeneland. Race 7. 4:24. Cool allowance going 1 mile on the grass marks U.S. debut for The Bull, a 3-time winner in his native Australia now in the barn of Brian Lynch.
Belmont. Race 8. 4:46. Fairly balanced group of six for Grade 3 Futurity. Wesley Ward ships Happy Like A Fool, second in Group 2 Queen Mary at Royal Ascot in from Keeneland while Horacio DePaz looks to add second straight stakes win with Barry Lee for Sagamore Farm and Stanley Hough.
Woodbine. Race 8. 4:54. Ontario-bred or sired 2-year-old fillies go 6 furlongs in $125,000 Victorian Queen.
Keeneland. Race 8. 4:57. Full field of 12 3-year-old fillies, many who could have gone in next weekend’s Raven Run without much argument.
Laurel Park. Race 9. 5:10. Tom Morley ships New York-bred Brother O’Connell Belmont for 1 1/16-mile allowance on the grass.
Belmont. Race 9. 5:19. Party Boat chased Proctor’s Ledge in back-to-back starts at Saratoga – a second in Grade 3 Lake George and third in Grade 2 Lake Placid. Daughter of Into Mischief is square price at 5-1 against the Chad Brown duo of Rubilinda and Thais in $200,000 Pebbles for 3-year-old fillies going 1 mile on the grass.
Keeneland. Race 9. 5:30. Best race of the day, the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup is a loaded affair with Grade 1 winners Dream Dancing and New Money Honey, German classic winner Unforgettable Filly, Royal Ascot winner Con Te Partiro and graded stakes winners Proctor’s Ledge, Daddys Lil Darling, La Coronel and Madam Dancealot. Godolphin’s Weheida finished close fourth against older females in Group 1 Prix de l’Opera 13 days ago and is the buzz of the backstretch.
Santa Anita Park. Race 6. 6:02. Miss Sunset won her only attempt going 6 1/2 furlongs down the hill and is the one to beat in $100,000 California Distaff Handicap.
Keeneland. Race 10. 6:03. Powerful Ally shortens up to 7 furlongs after going two turns in last three starts for Ron Moquett. He looks to graduate against 11 other maidens entered for the finale.
Charles Town Races. Race 1. 7:00. Opening stakes on the card is $65,000 West Virginia Dash For Cash Breeders’ Classic for 3-year-olds and up going 4 1/2 furlongs. Greenway Court won this race last season and is back for another try off a win in prep Sept. 23.
Santa Anita. Race 8. 7:06. Wild About Deb, who placed in three graded stakes on the East Coast, makes return to the West Coast in first start for Phil D’Amato in more than a year in 1 1/16-mile allowance.
Charles Town. Race 2. 7:30. Moonlit Song brings record of seven wins in eight starts into $125,000 West Virginia Cavada Breeders’ Classic. Three of those wins for 3-year-old daughter of Fiber Sonde came against older females, which she faces again in 7-furlong stakes.
Santa Anita. Race 9. 7:38. Older filly and mare Cal-bred maidens go 1 mile on the grass in the finale.
Charles Town. Race 3. 8:00. Juvenile fillies take their turn in $75,000 West Virginia Triple Crown Nutrition Breeders’ Classic. Noblame, winner of her first two at Indiana Grand before taking a small stakes locally, is back from Kentucky for trainer Joe Sharp.
Charles Town. Race 4. 8:30. Full field of 10 2-year-olds for $75,000 West Virginia Vincent Moscarelli Memorial Breeders’ Classic.
Charles Town. Race 5. 9:00. Not an easy decision in $75,000 West Virginia Division of Tourism Breeders’ Classic. Take a look for yourself, pick the winner and get paid.
Charles Town. Race 6. 9:30. Unrideabull lost back-to-back starts to end 2016 and start 2017, then won three in a row. Son of Bullsbay should get it done in $75,000 West Virginia Lottery Breeders’ Classic.
Charles Town. Race 7. 10:00. Best named stakes of the year, the $80,000 West Virginia Thoroughbred Breeders Association Onion Juice Breeders’ Classic. Not many West Virginia-breds than Onion Juice, who won 27 of 65 in the region back in the 1980s.
Charles Town. Race 8. 10:30. The night’s featured event, the $350,000 West Virginia Breeders’ Classic. Charitable Annuity finished second in last year’s edition and sports a 13-for-23 record at Charles Town. Ello Govna and North Atlantic look like the main opposition in 9-furlong stakes.
Charles Town. Race 9. 11:00. Still going strong? Well done, you complete the trip. Take a gander at the $80,000 West Virginia Breeders’ Classic Distaff.