Welcome to October. Now less than four weeks to go until the Breeders’ Cup World Championships and it’s no surprise the preps come fast and furious this weekend. The Saturday Special presented by Pin Oak Stud covers all the action from here and abroad, Ascot to Newmarket and Belmont to Santa Anita.
Saturday features a dozen group or graded races in North America and Europe and the weekend brings 13 automatic qualifying races for next month’s Breeders’ Cup. Keeneland opened its fall meeting Friday and rolls on Saturday with five stakes, including a trio of Grade 1s, while Belmont hosts the important Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup and Grade 1 Champagne.
Let’s get to the action. Enjoy and good luck.
Ascot. Race 2. 9:25 a.m. Waldgeist, off since finishing fourth in Irish Derby, makes return in Group 3 Cumberland Lodge Stakes going 1 1/2 miles.
Limerick. Race 3. 9:35. We love European race names. How about this one, the Download the Award Winning At The Races App Munster Mile Handicap?
Newmarket. Race 3. 9:40. John Gosden and Frankie Dettori teamed up to win the Arc last weekend with Enable and they’re back for another Group 1 try with Persuasive in $307,500 Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes. Daughter of Dark Angel meets a dozen other fillies and mares, including Roly Poly for Aidan O’Brien, Usherette for Andre Fabre and Qemah for Jean Claude Rouget.
Ascot. Race 3. 10:00. Godolphin’s Blue Point has faced much better thank he’ll meet in Group 3 John Guest Bengough Stakes going 6 furlongs. The Mizzen Mast colt Tommy Taylor carries the flag for the U.S., sort of, as he’s the lone American-bred in the race.
Ascot. Race 4. 10:35. Who doesn’t love a good 18-horse field? That’s how many vie for the $221,500 purse in this 7-furlong handicap.
Newmarket. Race 5. 10:50. The $184,500 Tattersalls October Auction Stakes, for 2-year-olds bought or sold at the 2016 Tattersalls October yearling sale, draws a field of 30. Yes 30. There’s a seven-filly mutuel field , a gelding named Fake News and another filly named She Believes who might be the one to beat.
Belmont Park. Race 1. 12:15 p.m. Eight 2-year-olds for 7-furlong turf maiden to start the day, including 6-5 favorite Brattata and first-time starter Night Time Lady for Chad Brown.
Belmont. Race 2. 12:47. Todd Pletcher and Chad Brown. They battled all summer at Saratoga and they meet in this allowance with Copper Town and Patternrecognition.
Keeneland Race Course. Race 1. 1:05. Nothing better than Keeneland on a Saturday. The opener is a $50,000 maiden claimer.
Belmont. Race 3. 1:20. Disco Partner returns to more ideal trip in $150,000 Belmont Turf Sprint Invitational. Not a “Win and You’re In” race, but could wind up being a key prep for Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint with We Deer You and Ready For Rye also in the field.
Keeneland. Race 2. 1:40. Strong allowance early on the card with five stakes winners – Lake Ponchartrain, Brooklynsway, Mayla, Athena and Kathballu – in the field of six.
Gulfstream Park West. Race 2. 1:44. Hello old friend, formerly known as Calder. Check out the purse for this 5-furlong maiden on the grass – $50,000.
Belmont. Race 4. 1:53. Maiden race for 2-year-olds going 1 1/16 miles on the grass looks strong on paper with several coming off good efforts, plus firsters from Pletcher, Brown and McLaughlin.
Belmont. Race 4. 2:50. Get a read on Bourbon Resolution for later in the card when you watch Slot, who chased him home second last time at Saratoga, stretch out in 1 1/16-mile maiden for 2-year-olds. Plenty of others should appreciate the added ground, including Victory Lane, Tiz Mischief, Arrival and Lemonade Thursday.
Belmont. Race 6. 3:03. Another strong looking 2-year-old maiden race, this one at 7 furlongs on the main track. Dave Cannizzo likes Ego, and said in his Fasig-Tipton Stable Tour that the big son of Quality Road might be “more like a 3-year-old.” There are plenty of others that appear well meant, too.
Delaware Park. Race 5. 3:15. Graham Motion sends out Desert Isle, Ontario-bred son of Bernardini out of Canadian champion Eye Of The Sphynx, for owner-breeder Sam-Son Farm in 6-furlong maiden for 2-year-old fillies.
Keeneland. Race 5. 3:25. The ageless Hogy, still getting it done as an 8-year-old, takes on Mongolian Saturday, Commend and Conquest Panthera in Grade 2 Woodford Stakes.
Santa Anita Park. Race 2. 3:59. First running of the $75,000 Obviously Mile. Named for the winner of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, turf stakes could be ideal prep for Blackjackcat to get into the Breeders’ Cup Mile.
Keeneland. Race 6. 4:00. Richard Mandella ships Bendable back to Kentucky for another try in the Grade 2 Thoroughbred Club of America. Daughter of Horse Greley was third in the race last year then went on shelf until June. She drew the rail in 6-furlong test that also features multiple graded stakes winner Finley’sluckycharm and Grade 2 Prioress winner Vertical Oak.
Parx Racing. Race 8. 4:04. Fairly even group of state-bred older fillies and mares for $100,000 Plum Pretty. Give the edge to Great Soul, she’s 2-for-2 at the track and in top form for Tom Proctor.
Belmont. Race 8. 4:13. Interesting edition of the Grade 1 Champagne with New York-bred stakes winner Aveenu Malcainu stepping up to open company against the likes of Hazit and Good Magic, one-two in a strong Travers Day maiden race, Sanford winner Firenze Fire and California shipper Bahamian for Simon Callaghan.
Keeneland. Race 7. 4:35. Time for the Grade 1s. The First Lady is the first of three and 1-mile turf test attracts last spring’s Grade 1 Jenny Wiley winner Dickinson, Beverly D. runner-up Dona Bruja and Grade 2 winners Hawksmoor and Roca Rojo.
Belmont. Race 9. 4:48. Yoshida, Bricks And Mortar and Rocketry – second, third and fourth in the Grade 3 Saranac – meet Hieroglyphics and Small Bear, the first two in the Better Talk Now, in the Grade 3 Hill Prince. Want a fresh face? How about graded stakes winners Frostmourne, off since July 15, or Ticonderoga, off since July 8.
Santa Anita. Race 4. 5:00. City Of Light could not have run better breaking his maiden at Del Mar Sept. 1. Quality Road colt takes step up into allowance ranks, draws outside and looks good for Michael “Whitey” McCarthy.
Woodbine. Race 8. 5:01. Wonder Gadot is heavy favorite for main-track debut in Grade 3 Mazarine. Daughter of Medgalia d’Oro finished close third as favorite last time in Grade 1 Natalma on the grass. She’s one of two for Mark Casse, along with Ontario Debutante winner Shamrock Rose.
Hawthorne Race Course. Race 3. 5:06. Second day of the fall meet and here’s an early allowance going 6 furlongs.
Keeneland. Race 8. 5:10. Last year’s Grade 1 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity produced eventual Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Classic Empire. This year’s edition features Free Drop Billy and Givemeaminit, second and third in the Grade 1 Hopeful, and impressive Saratoga maiden winner Bourbon Resolution.
Belmont. Race 10. 5:23. What will the Jockey Club Gold Cup look like for its 100th running? It’s certainly changed over the years and here’s the 99th edition of the historic race, featuring older horses Keen Ice, Diversify, Destin, Rally Cry and Highland Sky against 3-year-olds Pavel and Good Samaritan
Keeneland. Race 9. 5:45. The featured Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile is loaded. How loaded? Consider the field includes Group/Grade 1 winners Divisidero, Le Ken, Mondialiste, Miss Temple City and American Patriot. Miss Temple City upended the boys winning last year and goes for another Keeneland Grade 1. Heart To Heart salvaged rough meet at Saratoga for Brian Lynch winning the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch the last day and bids for his first Grade 1 victory.
Santa Anita. Race 6. 6:02. The final Grade 1 of the day is Santa Anita Sprint Championship, which is rematch of the Bing Crosby with Ransom The Moon and Roy H in the mix along with H. Allen Jerkens third-place finisher American Anthem taking on older horses for the first time.
Keeneland. Race 10. 6:18. Didn’t get enough Grade 1s on the card? How about Grade One, a son of Midnight Lute trained by James DiVito? He’s one of a dozen 2-year-olds in 6-furlong maiden finale.
Charles Town Races. Race 1. 7:00. Keep it rolling with an open-company 4 1/2-furlong maiden for 2-year-olds.
Santa Anita. Race 8. 7:03. Eight entered in the $70,000 Swingtime, a 1-mile restricted stakes on the grass for fillies and mares.