A week out from the Breeders’ Cup World Championships and a winter-like blast hit the Northeast late Thursday and into Friday, just in time for Halloween and the end of daylight savings time.
That’s right, one more Saturday before the clocks roll back and less than a week before the 14-race smorgasbord of spectator-free Breeders’ Cup action at Keeneland Race Course.
We’ll be back next week with content and selections for the Breeders’ Cup but first up is another busy day of action around the world with Opening Day of the Bing Crosby meeting at Del Mar, the last Saturday of Belmont Park’s Fall Championship meet, stakes action from Woodbine and the Best of Ohio at Mahoning Valley. We start overseas with a mix of flat action – some of the last big races of the season – and National Hunt racing with an eye toward March. All that and more this week.
Here’s your primer for Saturday, Oct. 31. Happy Halloween.
Newmarket. Race 1. 7:35 a.m. One of the last chances for juveniles to try the turf in England before winter takes hold. Hopefully Darling sure has the credentials. A daughter of Frankel, trained by Gosden, owned by Oppenheimer.
Down Royal. Race 1. 8:40. The march to March. Quilixios won his hurdle debut in France in March, moved to Ireland and won his second start at Punchestown by a cool 13 lengths. Freak.
Down Royal. Race 2. 9:15. The arsenal of Gordon Elliott. Ballyadam won his bumper by 18 lengths in March. Hurdle debut. He’s 2-5.
Chantilly. Race 4. 9:35. Group 3 stakes for 2-year-olds. Coeursamba drops out of a Group 1 at Longchamp a month ago.
Down Royal. Race 3. 9:50. Enchanting and exciting to see National Hunt horses back in action. Wolf Prince looked strong in his juvenile hurdling career, took a break and could be poised for more here.
Ascot. Race 4. 9:55. Capeland returns from a 14th-place finish in the Grand Annual at Cheltenham for Paul Nicholls and Bryony Frost.
Newmarket. Race 5. 10:05. Zeyaadah, a daughter of Tamayuz, tries to make it three 3-for-3 for our old friend Roger Varian in the Montrose Fillies’ Stakes.
Down Royal. Race 4. 10:25. Hello, old friends. Alpha Des Obeaux, Balko Des Flos, Chris’s Dream, Delta Work, the one and only, Presenting Percy and others. The Grade 1 Ladbrokes Champion Chase.
Newmarket. Race 6. 10:40. Headman, one of our favorite horses, returns in the James Seymour Stakes.
Wetherby. Race 5. 10:45. Grade 2 Bet365 Hurdle attracts Lisnagar Oscar, winner of the Stayers’ Hurdle in March, for Rebecca Curtis and Adam Wedge.
Chantilly. Race 6. 10:50. Air De Valse won a Group 3 in September and comes back in another Group 3 here.
Down Royal. Race 5. 11:00. Samcro is back.
Newmarket. Race 7. 11:15. Our old friend, George Baker, tries to add to his fruitful season with Graignes in the Ben Marshall Stakes. Big price.
Wetherby. Race 6. 11:20. You know it’s winter – or at least close to winter – when you start writing about the Charlie Hall Chase. Cyrname returns for his first start since falling in the Ascot Chase in February. Sam Spinner returns for his first start since winning three novice chases in 2019.
Ayr. Race 6. 11:27. Brian Hughes is on a mission to defend his first championship, wrestled from the cagey Richard Johnson last season. Hughes rides Goobinator in the Scottish Champion Trial.
Ascot. Race 7. 11:40. Fourteen-time winner Black Corton gets back to work in the Grade 3 Sodexo Gold Cup. Might Bite lost his way like Townes Van Zandt on a jaunt, the 11-year-old tries to right the ship here.
Belmont Park. Race 3. 1:45 p.m. Back to the main track and one turn for Dreams Of Tomorrow after Shug McGaughey tried the grass last time with son of Speightstown. He’s one of a few in 7-furlong maiden that look to upset expected favorite The Sound for trainer Brad Cox.
Churchill Downs. Race 3. 2:00. Early allowance on the card and a field of six. She’s Cant’s Sing will be tough from the rail for Team Block.
Belmont. Race 4. 2:16. Our man Phil Gleaves, still burning the candle at Saratoga, sends Yes And Yes downstate for 1-mile turf allowance. We asked about the name two summers back in the Fasig-Tipton Stable Tour. Check out the answer.
Mahoning Valley Race Course. Race 6. 2:34. Best of Ohio starts with $100,000 Juvenile Stakes. Uptown comes in off back-to-back wins but should be tested by Morestride, Brig and Historically.
Laurel Park. Race 5. 2:37. Big field, including a few main track only runners, for 5 1/2-furlong turf optional.
Belmont. Race 5. 2:49. Liam’s Missy, 2-year-old daughter of Liam’s Map who finished second at 3-2 in her debut Oct. 3 at Monmouth Park, stretches out to 7 furlongs for Tim Hills.
Mahoning Valley. Race 7. 3:02. The 2-year-olds take their turn in $100,000 John W. Galbreath going two turns. Alexandria tried graded stakes company last time after winning three straight of Ohio-breds and didn’t disgrace finishing third in the Grade 3 Pocahontas. She’s back with state-breds here and against familiar foes Somuchsugar and Gonnabegood.
Woodbine. Race 5. 3:10. End of an era on the way after this week’s announcement that Sam Son Farm planned to disperse its racing and breeding stock over the next 12 to 18 months. She Takes Flight, a homebred multi-generational daughter of Bernardini, carries the red and gold in this 1-mile maiden for 2-year-old fillies.
Belmont. Race 6. 3:22. First of three stakes on the card, the $80,000 Zagora for fillies and mares going 12 furlongs on the grass. Beau Belle should appreciate bit of class relief after finishing behind Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf contender Civil Union in her last two. She runs into her stablemate, Hungry Kitten, however, along with a pair from Christophe Clement’s barn in Mutamakina and Olympic Games. Martin Schwartz owns the latter and he campaigned Zagora to 5-for-8 season in 2012 that resulted in Breeders’ Cup win and turf female Eclipse Award.
Del Mar. Race 1. 3:30. Lift the lid on the fall meet at the place “Where the Turf Meets the Surf” with a starter optional on the grass featuring a field of seven.
Mahoning Valley. Race 8. 3:30. Altissimo returns in search of third straight win in $100,000 Best of Ohio Sprint. He’s won 18 of 44 and more than $827,000 in his career and takes on 10 foes here led by Mo Don’t know, Buckeye Bullet and Diamond Dust.
Churchill. Race 6. 3:36. Gold Standard, fourth at 9-5 in similar 1-mile optional last time out, tries again at same level against Queen Nekia, Istan Council and Final Cut.
Mahoning Valley. Race 9. 3:58. Moonlit Mission, winner of last year’s John W. Galbreath as a 2-year-old, looks for another state-bred win in Best of Ohio Distaff. She’s won four Ohio-bred stakes, including the Pay The Man two back going two turns at Thistledown.
Churchill. Race 7. 4:06. Value Engineering returns from a bit of a freshening for Chad Brown in 11-furlong optional on the grass. He finished close third against better last time at Saratoga and will be shorter than his 2-1 morning-line price.
Laurel. Race 8. 4:19. Pilot Episode loved it when 1-mile maiden came off the grass last time, winning by 17 lengths. Daughter of Speightstown fared well in her turf starts and goes back to the grass for featured 1 1/16-mile allowance for Shug McGaughey.
Mahoning Valley. Race 10. 4:26. Uriah St. Lewis ships Forewarned, seventh and fifth in his last two starts in graded stakes company, back to his native state for $100,000 Best of Ohio Endurance. Five-year-old son of Flat Out won it last year and should get it done again in 2020.
Belmont. Race 8. 4:27. Full field of 12 2-year-olds not quite ready for the big time line up for $80,000 Awad Stakes on the grass. The first three from the Laurel Futurity are here – Catman, Wootton Asset and Kidnapped, along with Space Launch, Step Dancer, Nownownow winner It Can Be Done and Fitz Dixon Jr. winner Like A Saltshaker.
Woodbine. Race 8. 4:44. Ten Canadian-breds go to the grass for $100,000 Overskate. Want to see durable and the benefits of a winter off? Look up Overskate’s race record.
Churchill. Race 8. 4:36. Steve Asmussen unveils Whisper Hill Farm homebred Happy Success against fellow first-timer Milana for Brad Cox and second-time starters for Chad Brown (Taqseemaat), Bill Mott (Amusing Antics) in 6-furlong maiden for 2-year-old fillies.
Belmont. Race 9. 4:57. We bumped into Ray Handal this past summer and he said, “she’s one you might be writing about next year,” while he and Natalia Lynch took a set to the Oklahoma. Lynch, on her own with a small string mainly for Al Gold’s Gold Square, sends out Wendell Fong in search of her first win in the Grade 3 Bold Ruler. That would be some start but he’ll need a big effort against the likes of Phat Man, Majestic Dunhill, Share The Ride and Mihos in 7-furlong handicap.
Camanas Park. Race 9. 5:05. The Jamaican Derby. Wow Wow has been exactly that in a stellar 11-14 career. The son of Casual Trick takes on 10 rivals in the $48,255 stakes.
Churchill. Race 9. 5:06. The three main players for featured $95,000 optional – Captivating Moon, Endorsed and Bourbon Calling – drew outside going 1 1/16 miles. Fact Finding, blowout winner of restricted stakes at Delaware Park last time, might wind up with the trip and he’s won in Louisville before.
Woodbine. Race 9. 5:15. Some Sovereign Award implications on the line in $250,000 Princess Elizabeth for 2-year-old fillies. Dreaming Of Drew heads to the Canadian-bred ranks after close fourth in Grade 1 Natalma on the grass while El Bayern tries to make it two straight stakes wins to start her career.
Del Mar. Race 5. 5:30. Richard Baltas sends out European import Annangel for the first time in the U.S. in 1-mile optional. Irish-bred filly ran two decent races in June in England and shows decent works for American debut.
Del Mar. Race 7. 6:30. Older Cal-bred fillies and mares go to the grass for the $75,000 Kathryn Crosby. Named for the wife of the late Bing Crosby, 1-mile stakes attracted pretty balanced field of eight.
Del Mar. Race 9. 7:30. Finish the day on the West Coast with 1-mile maiden for 2-year-olds. Hard to fault the efforts of the Into Mischief gelding Petruchio, including good second in similar spot last time for Richard Mandella.
Golden Gate Fields. Race 8. 7:45. Jerry Hollendorfer remains banned from the Bay Area racing scene but they still run the $75,000 Pike Place Dancer Stakes, named for the Hall of Fame trainer’s 1996 Kentucky Oaks winner. Four of the eight entered in 1-mile turf stakes for 2-year-old fillies ship from Santa Anita, including 9-5 favorite Consternation for Paddy Gallagher.
Charles Town Races. Race 4. 8:32. Ellie’s Lil Man, fourth in the Onion Juice last time, drops back in for the $20,000 tag in state-bred optional at 7 furlongs. He won for that price two back at 6 1/2 and was claimed that night.
Charles Town. Race 6. 9:32. Who could forget the fan favorite Juba? He’s a stallion now and could get a stakes winner here in the $50,000 West Virginia Futurity with last-out debut winner Juba Did It and last-out maiden winner Just Gets Better. West Virginia’s top sire Fiber Sonde won’t go quiet though with four of the seven – Lock Down Time, Theladyistrue, Youthinkthatsfunny and Shutupn’kissme.