The Saturday Special – Oct. 26

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The final countdown. The calm before the storm. Call it what you will, there’s only a week to go before the 36th Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Santa Anita Park and everyone’s ready for the main event.

A little bit of business first, with a solid slate of racing action here in the U.S. to set the stage for the full docket next week.

Maximum Security – remember him? – makes another “return” in Saturday’s Grade 3 Bold Ruler at Belmont Park in what figures to be a prep for the Grade 1 Cigar Mile. The 7-furlong Bold Ruler is one of three stakes on the final Saturday card of the Fall Championship Meet along with the Awad and English Channel on grass.

Keeneland closes the book on its fall meet with the Grade 2 Hagyard Fayette Stakes, the Best of Ohio goes down at Mahoning Valley and Santa Anita, Woodbine and Golden Gate host stakes.

Here’s your primer for Saturday, Oct. 26. Enjoy and good luck.

Mahoning Valley Race Course. Race 1. 12:15 p.m. Good money out there for Ohio-breds; consider this 6-furlong optional with a purse of $33,700.

Meadowlands. Race 1. 12:30. The season winds down in New Jersey and here’s the next-to-last card of the year in the state.

Belmont Park. Race 1. 12:45. Somehow Forza Di Oro didn’t make it into Bill Mott’s Fasig-Tipton Stable Tour that ran in The Saratoga Special the final Saturday of the meet. He finished second in Sept. 11 debut at 31-1 – perhaps that’s why – and looks tough in 1 1/16-mile maiden opener.

Laurel Park. Race 1. 12:25. A broken water main forced cancellations Thursday and Friday; here’s hoping it’s cleared up in time for 10-race card that starts with 5 1/2-furlong maiden claimer on the grass.

Keeneland Race Course. Race 1. 1:05. Closing Day of the fall meet and a $50,000 maiden claimer for 2-year-old fillies.

Mahoning Valley. Race 4. 1:46. Field of 11 Ohio-bred 2-year-old fillies entered for $150,000 John W. Galbreath. Moonlit Mission leads the group off three straight wins on the circuit, including the Tah Dah two back at Belterra Park.

Laurel. Race 4. 1:50. Project Whiskey, winner of the opener on Pennsylvania Derby Day, stretches out a bit more for 1-mile optional.

Gulfstream Park West. Race 3. 2:00. Saffie Joseph Jr., clicking along at 40 percent for the meet, sends out Vincero 1-mile optional claimer on the main track.

Keeneland. Race 3. 2:12. Check the weather before wading into 1 1/16-mile allowance on the grass for 2-year-olds. Word out of Lexington is plenty of rain in the forecast.

Mahoning Valley. Race 5. 2:17. The $150,000 Best of Ohio Juvenile. Tim Hamm tried open company last time with Liberate, who finished seventh as the favorite in Sapling Stakes at Monmouth Park after three straight wins on the circuit.

Belmont. Race 4. 2:24. Freaky Styley looks to shed second-itis status in 6 1/2-furlong state-bred maiden with new rider Jose Ortiz for trainer Jorge Abreu.

Mahoning Valley. Race 6. 2:48. Lone blemish on Dare Day’s record came when fifth in Grade 3 Ohio Derby. Ron Paolucci’s son of Can The Man fits a bit better in the $150,000 Best of Ohio Sprint, although Altissimo looms a powerful presence.

Belmont. Race 5. 2:59. First of three stakes is $100,000 English Channel at 1 mile for 3-year-olds. Front Run The Fed won Better Talk Now last time out for third straight victory and takes on group led by Bourbon War, Seismic Wave and Power Player.

Keeneland. Race 5. 3:18. Churchill hosts one of its Stars of Tomorrow cards Sunday; but start with this 6-furlong maiden for 2-year-olds for a glimpse at some to possibly watch down the road.

Mahoning Valley. Race 7. 3:18. Another big purse and another big field for the $150,000 Best of Ohio Distaff. Fourteen entered, including Kentucky shipper Magna Rose and last-out winners Mayas Queen Neetee, Star Mabee, Miss Ma Moo and Market Success.

Laurel. Race 7. 3:20. Square Shooter returns to allowance ranks – where he won Aug. 10 – after back-to-back fourths in stakes for Jeremiah Englehart and Al Gold. Trappe Shot gelding is 2-for-4 on the grass at Laurel but needs to turn tables on Dubini and Fielder in this spot.

Santa Anita Park. Race 1. 3:30. A week out from Breeders’ Cup Saturday, the card starts with a two-turn starter optional on the main track with a field of five.

Mahoning Valley. Race 8. 3:48. Uriah St. Lewis ships Forewarned, third in two straight stakes runs after off-the-board finishes in Grade 1s at Saratoga, in from Parx for the $150,000 Best of Ohio Endurance at 10 furlongs to close the card.

Belmont. Race 7. 4:07. Multiple New York-bred stakes winner English Soul takes on open company and promising 3-year-olds Magic Star, Fierce Scarlett and On The Town in 1 1/16-mile turf allowance.

Keeneland. Race 7. 4:24. Eight fillies and mares entered for 9-furlong turf allowance. Coco Channel ran well over the course in the spring but needs to do better for our man LoPresti.

Belmont. Race 8. 4:40. The star-crossed campaign of Maximum Security, highlighted by his DQ in the Kentucky Derby and scratch out of the Pennsylvania Derby, reroutes to the $200,000 Bold Ruler Handicap. Multiple Grade 1 winner doesn’t get in light against older rivals, carrying top weight of 121 pounds in Grade 3 stakes. If he’s close to his best he should bury this bunch. If not maybe Killybegs Captain, True Timber, Diamond King or Prince Lucky can pull the upset.

Woodbine. Race 8. 4:49. Jose Carroll looks strong in $225,000 Princess Elizabeth for 2-year-old fillies foaled in Ontario. She sends out Curlin’s Voyage from the rail off victory via DQ in Grade 3 Mazarine; Avie’s Samurai, a close third in optional on the grass last time out; and She’s A Dream, third in back-to-back stakes sprinting on the synthetic.

Keeneland. Race 8. 4:57. Off The Record won first out at Saratoga for Rodophe Brisset then threw in back-to-back fifths in sprint allowances in New York. WinStar homebred son of Distorted Humor should fare better in this 7-furlong allowance with the meet’s leading rider Leparoux aboard.

Santa Anita. Race 4. 5:07. Bob Baffert sends out a pair in 6 1/2-furlong maiden, including $1 million Keeneland September yearling Thousand Words for Albaugh Family Stables and Spendthrift Farm.

Belmont. Race 9. 5:13. The $100,000 Awad for 2-year-olds at 1 mile on the grass. Tiesto, a half brother to Promises Fulfilled by Tiznow, didn’t slip through the cracks in Bill Mott’s Fasig-Tipton Stable Tour. He won first time out at 11-1 and looks to make it 2-for-2 for LNJ Foxwoods and NK Racing.

Keeneland. Race 9. 5:30. Joel Rosario reunites with Tom’s d’Etat, cover horse for our penultimate issue of the 2019 season at Saratoga, for Grade 2 Hagyard Fayette. Rosario rode son of Smart Strike to victory two back in 9-furlong Alydar before Irad Ortiz Jr. rode him to fourth in Grade 1 Woodward. Tom’s d’Etat should be tough at his best against the likes of Bal Harbour, Mr Freeze, Mocito Rojo, Tenfold and Core Beliefs.

Belmont. Race 10. 5:46. Strong card closes with state-bred 6-furlong allowance on the grass.

Keeneland. Race 10. 6:03. Stick it out for the meet finale, a 9-furlong maiden on the grass for 2-year-olds. If it stays on Cardiac Kid should be tough, along with Suggested and Cask at a price.

Santa Anita. Race 7. 6:45. A dozen plus another on the also-eligible list for the Grade 3 Autumn Miss. Hidden Message, second behind Cambier Parc in Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks, returns for Simon Callaghan while Brad Cox ships Solent in for Juddmonte Farms off victory in Kentucky Downs allowance.

Golden Gate Fields. Race 7. 7:00. Jerry Hollendorfer is banned from the grounds but they’ll still run the Pike Place Dancer Stakes. Named for Hollendorfer’s 1996 Kentucky Oaks winner, stakes for 2-year-old fillies on the grass features a field of six.

Santa Anita. Race 8. 7:15. Manchester United fans will back Stretford End, son of Will Take Charge who goes out for Simon Callaghan and owner Kaleem Shah. He’s been odds-on in three starts and looks for maiden win in start No. 6.

Santa Anita. Race 9. 7:45. State-bred turf sprint optional closes the card, sadly not on the hillside course.