The Saturday Special presented by Thoroughbred Racing Calendar – Dec. 5

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The weekly primer returns for a loaded day of action here on the first Saturday of December, and with a new sponsor.

The Saturday Special presented by Thoroughbred Racing Calendar not only provides preview for all the action from Aqueduct to Turfway but also serves as a good reminder to get some holiday shopping done in support of a small business. Click here to order the calendar, which features the likes of Tiz The Law, Authentic, Monomoy Girl, Whitmore, Enable and other stars from racing.

Speaking of racing we start early overseas, where our intrepid “correspondent” and ardent supporter Richard Hutchinson is ready to go racing, in person. Check out his quite below in our abbreviated “Here & There.”

Back in the U.S. we preview the loaded Cigar Mile Day card at Aqueduct, Grade 1 Starlet for 2-year-old fillies at Los Alamitos Race Course, Claiming Crown at Gulfstream Park, six-figure 2-year-old stakes at Laurel Park and Tampa Bay Downs and so much more.

Here’s your primer for Saturday, Dec. 5, plus that Here & There. Enjoy and good luck.


Quote of the Day

“In parking lot, waiting for doors to open. Damp and wet. I’ve got full wet battle gear on, can’t wait.”
International steeplechase scion Richard Hutchinson on the long-awaited opening of his local track Wincanton to spectators this week


By the Numbers
202: Grand National fences jumped by Vieux Lion Rouge (four Grand Nationals and Four Becher Chases). The 11-year-old runs in the Becher Chase for trainer David Pipe. 


Names of the Day

Officiating. Aqueduct. Race 1. Peter Vegso’s homebred colt is by Blame out of Come A Callin.

Solo. Sandown. Race 7. The French-bred hurdler is out of Flameche, which translates to small flame. 

Look My Way. Aintree. Race 3. Drew and Alisa Russell’s hurdler is out of Casual Glance. 


Aintree. Race 1. 6:45 a.m. Start off early with this competitive novice hurdle. Brian Hughes earned his first champion jockey crown last year. He’s in a battle this year. Remember, they all count the same. He rides Mackenberg in the opener.

Sandown. Race 1. 7:05. Now it’s time for the proper juveniles. Paros comes with the most credentials after a dusting of eight rivals in his French hurdle debut in May. Yes, May.

Chepstow. Race 1. 7:12. Colin Tizzard is loaded for an impactful National Hunt season. He sends out Oscar Elite, a 20-length winner in his hurdle debut over the same course in November.

Navan. Race 4. 8:08. Yowza, a $101,500 purse on the table for handicap hurdlers. Eight of the 23 are trained by Willie Mullins. Stable jockey Paul Townend chooses Sayo.

Aintree. Race 4. 8:30. The first fence will be the 203rd fence for Vieux Lion Rouge. The 12-time winner loses regular jockey Tom Scudamore to David Pipe-trained stablemate Ramses De Teillee in a stellar running of the William Hill Becher Chase. Fifteen veterans line up for another foray with the National fences. “There are lots of decent horses in there,” Pipe said on a call organized by Great British Racing. “Going back to Aintree a second time, some horses like it or some remember and don’t like it as much as others. I think Ramses de Teillee will take to it again. He is in great form and if he does take to it, then he must be in with a great chance. Vieux Lion Rouge knows the paddock and when he sees the first fence, he will know what it is all about again. I don’t know why that is the case, but he loves the fences there and his track record shows you that.”

Sandown. Race 4. 8:50. Eldorado Allen puts his undefeated chase record on the line in the Grade 1 Planteur at Chapel Stud Henry VIII Novices’ Chase. Allmankind, third in the JCB Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham in March, won his chase debut by 13 lengths. Phoenix Way, Tamaroc Du Mathan, GA Law and Hitman add bluster to the wind.

Aintree. Race 5. 9:05. Megan drew off and won by 9 1/2 lengths in her British hurdle debut after a solid flat career in Germany. The daughter of Lord of England jumped slickly and skipped home impressively that day. She takes on 11 rivals in this lucrative event.

Navan 6. Race 6. 9:18. “Get busy living or get busy dying.” Andy Dufresne makes his second chase start in the Grade 3 Irish Stallion Farms EBF Klairon Davis Chase.

Sandown. Race 5. 9:25. The Grade 1 Tingle Creek. Remember Tingle Creek? An icon of our childhood, the Virginia-bred dominated here and went to England to do the same. A different era. A forgotten venture. Altior, winner of 21 races from 24 starts, returns for his 10-year-old campaign. The legend needs his best to rumble with contenders (pretenders?) to his thrown, Greaneteen, Politologue and Rouge Vif.

Aintree. Race 6. 9:40. The William Hill Many Clouds Chase. Oh, the great Many Clouds, he made this page year after year, through a Grand National win and that fateful day at Cheltenham. Legendary horse. He would have loved this fraternity of heart-on-their-sleeves chasers Frodon, Native River, Santini, Keeper Hill and Lake View Lad.

Aintree. Race 7. 10:15. What a card. Nicky Henderson admits to being an “obstinate and determined people” in trying to rekindle the once indomitable Might Bite. The 11-year rides a long losing streak into the William Hill Grand Sefton Handicap Chase.

Wetherby. Race 7. 10:22. Here’s a new one. A daughter of Honor Code and Matchmaker winner Casual Smile, in a British bumper. Hoopmalassie finished second in her debut at Warwick in November.

Sandown. Race 7. 10:35. Bet Benson, a sweet-moving son of Beat Hollow.

Aqueduct. Race 1. 11:30. Cigar Mile Day starts with 7-furlong maiden for 2-year-olds.

Gulfstream Park. Race 1. 12:05 p.m. Full field of 12 2-year-old fillies for 1-mile turf maiden to open the first Saturday card of the Championship Meet.

Tampa Bay Downs. Race 1. 12:10. Racing returned – with limited fans – to popular small Florida venue last week and second Saturday card of the season starts with maiden claimer on the grass.

Wolverhampton. Race 4. 12:30. Mighty Gurka returns for his first start since flopping, 15 lengths behind Golden Pal, at the Breeders’ Cup. This conditions race is no Breeders’ Cup but Yazaman and Zamaani stand in the way.

Gulfstream. Race 2. 12:35. Field of 10 fillies and mares for $80,000 Claiming Crown Glass Slipper, including defending champ Liza Star with Tyler Gaffalione.

Aqueduct. Race 4. 1:00. Pickin’ Time and Ten For Ten, 1-2 in the Grade 3 Nashua, are back for the Grade 2 Remsen at 9 furlongs. Neither are favored; with that role going to last-out maiden winner and Curlin colt Known Agenda. Don’t sleep on the New York-bred Brooklyn Strong, winner of Sleepy Hollow last time on Empire Showcase Day.

Tampa. Race 3. 1:10. First serious local step toward the Tampa Bay Derby – and maybe the spring classics – goes 6 furlongs with the $100,000 Inaugural. A half dozen 2-year-olds entered, including turf stakes winner Arrest Me Red, multiple stakes winner Poppy’s Pride, Thealligatorhunter and Gatsby.

Aqueduct. Race 5. 1:30. Summer Brew finished close second in Lady Finger in early October then second again as favorite in early November maiden. Daughter of Summer Front back in same condition here and should graduate.

Gulfstream. Race 4. 1:35. Krsto Style didn’t miss by much last time in Grade 3 De Francis Memorial Dash and two back in Grade 3 Smile Sprint. Veteran will appreciate some class relief in $75,000 Claiming Crown Express. Combination, 9-2 on the morning line for Saffie Joseph Jr., could improve to 9-for-11 on the season. Those nine wins would be tops in North America for 2020.

Gulfstream. Race 5. 2:05. Thinkin Cowtown and Unaquoi, 1-2 in last year’s Claiming Crown Distaff Dash, are back for this year’s $90,000 renewal. They’re both big prices in main group of 12 behind 8-5 choice Jakarta.

Aqueduct. Race 6. 2:07. Nonna Madeline, a two-time stakes winner in 2020 for Todd Pletcher, tangles with Sharp Star and four others in Grade 3 Go For Wand. Sharp Star returns to open graded company after 15 3/4-length destruction of state-bred allowance at the track and trip Nov. 7.

Mahoning Valley Race Course. Race 6. 2:34. Chief Randel returns to state-bred ranks for 6-furlong allowance. Nick Can Fix, the winner of five straight, looks to spoil that return from the outside in field of seven.

Gulfstream. Race 6. 2:38. Here’s something you won’t see every day – or every year for that matter. Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile runner-up and Preakness third Jesus’ Team looms large in $150,000 Claiming Crown Jewel.

Aqueduct. Race 7. 2:44. Not many more opportunities for turf in New York this year and here’s a 6-furlong allowance.

Tampa. Race 6. 2:49. Bill Mott told us during his Fasig-Tipton Stable Tour in the final Saturday edition of The Saratoga Special for 2020 that Reina Del Sol was a “nice filly. She’s going to be good. She was green. A lot of these fillies are very green, looky, need some racing and need a little confidence.” He liked the Tapit filly’s debut, when she finished third, but no doubt didn’t like her second start when she finished 10th on yielding ground Nov. 1 at Belmont. Here she takes on typically deep group for the track in 1 1/16-mile turf maiden.

Laurel Park. Race 6. 2:53. Ben Perkins Jr. looks strong in 6 ½-furlong allowance with uncoupled entry of Moose Lodge and Saltin’ The Rim.

Hawthorne Race Course. Race 3. 2:55. Etched In Stone and Buck Moon, well-bred juveniles who each cost owner Carolyn Wilson six figures this summer, look well spotted for Larry Rivelli in 6-furlong maiden.

Gulfstream. Race 7. 3:08. Switch back to the grass for the $95,000 Claiming Crown Emerald. Mike Maker sends out five, yes five, with Artie’s Rumor, Temple, Apreciado, Hieroglyphics and Muggsamatic. He’s got one on the AE list, too, in Sniper Kitten.

Aqueduct. Race 8. 3:15. Wasp went through the ring at Fasig-Tipton Kentucky November sale and didn’t sell on final bid of $385,000. A One A Racing kept the New York-bred daughter of American Pharoah and she goes against winners for first time here in 1-mile allowance.

Laurel. Race 7. 3:23. State-bred championship honors could be on the line in $100,000 Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship with the 1-2-3 finishers from the Maryland Million Lassie entered in 7-furlong stakes. Miss Nondescript scored mild upset in the Lassie over beaten favorite Street Lute, who came back Nov. 14 to handle open company in Smart Halo to improve to 3-for-4. Lassie third Trip To Freedom also ran back, finishing third in optional at 5 1/2 furlongs Nov. 19.

Gulfstream. Race 8. 3:38. Yodel E. A. Who likes Gulfstream and looks tough in $85,000 Claiming Crown Rapid Transit for Saffie Joseph Jr.

Aqueduct. Race 9. 3:44. Malathaat looks to make it 2-for-2 and potentially keep a monster day going for Todd Pletcher in the Grade 2 Demoiselle. Shadwell Stable’s daughter of Curlin won the Tempted Stakes Nov. 6 and meets seven others led by last-out maiden winenrs Millefeuile and Malibu Curl and Tempted third Cafe Society.

Tampa. Race 8. 3:49. Bill Mott sends out another Fasig-Tipton Stable Tour grad in Brother In Arms, son of War Front who cost Godolphin $2.9 million at the 2019 Keeneland September yearling sale. He didn’t know too much about him then but has since put 10 works into the colt, who joins stablemate Kayaker in 1-mile turf maiden

Laurel. Race 8. 3:53. Maryland Million Nursery winner Kenny Had A Notion sits out this one, the $100,000 Maryland Juvenile Futurity to leave Jaxon Traveler, Alwaysinahurry and Singlino to battle it out. Nobody’s come closer than 4 lengths of Jaxon Traveler in his two starts for Steve Asmussen and son of Munnings figures to be tough to beat.

Hawthorne. Race 5. 3:55. Seven Illinois-bred 2-year-old fillies entered for $50,000 Pat Whitworth Illinois Debutante, including the Lemon Drop Kid filly Jolina going back to the main track after a third on the grass at Indiana Grand.

Gulfstream. Race 9. 4:09. Queens Embrace makes first start for new barn with high percentage off the claim while Sugar Fix drops down off Grade 3 stakes at Keeneland in $95,000 Claiming Crown Tiara.

Aqueduct. Race 10. 4:13. Performer rides five-race win streak dating back to June 2019 and leads field of nine for Grade 1 Cigar Mile Handicap. Trained by Shug McGaughey, son of Speightstown returned from long layoff to win 1-mile optional in mid-October. He’ll be tested by the likes of Firenze Fire, third in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint; Mr. Buff, dominating winner of the Empire Classic and 8-for-13 at the Big A; and the comebacking King Guillermo, off since finishing second in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby May 2.

Tampa. Race 9. 4:19. The 2-year-old fillies take their turn in $100,000 Sandpiper. Much bigger field here though, with 13 lined up for 6-furlong stakes.

Gulfstream. Race 10. 4:40. Will it be five straight for Fiya in Claiming Crown Canterbury? She won the Maryland Million Turf Sprint over males last time and draws post 1 against the boys again 5-furlong grass event.

Fair Grounds. Race 7. 4:54. Arm Candy, a decent fourth in Grade 2 Jessamine at Keeneland at 42-1 last time out, cuts back to 1 mile for grass optional that also draws Mike Stidham’s first-out maiden winners Killer Dress and Magnetism along with Brad Cox’s duo of Burning Ambition and Stage Fright.

Gulfstream. Race 11. 5:11. The card closes with the $75,000 Claiming Crown Iron Horse. Frost Or Frippery bids for win No. 8 on the year, which would put him level with Maryland-based Galerio and Florida-based Combination (who goes in the Express) for tops in North America in 2020.

Hawthorne. Race 8. 5:25. Market Analysis, who started the year in South Florida with Todd Pletcher and finished sixth in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby in his second start, continues his transformation to the Midwest and breaks from rail in 1-mile and 70-yard optional on the main track.

Los Alamitos Race Course. Race 5. 5:28. Not many Grade 1 stakes left in 2020 but Bob Baffert looks to rack up another with three of the five entered in the $300,000 Starlet. Princess Noor, fifth as the favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, leads the trio that must handle the 2-for-2 Astute from trainer Richard Mandella’s barn.

Fair Grounds. Race 9. 5:52. Into Mystic, 12th in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint after setting the early pace, should appreciate significant class relief in $75,000 Pan Zareta for fillies and mares.

Remington Park. Race 2. 8:35. Steve Asmussen, inching closer to 400 wins on the season for the third year in a row and 11th time in his Hall of Fame career, sends out the first of six runners for the stable on the card with Bodemeister firster Boozymilkshakebar in $7,500 maiden claimer.

Turfway Park. Race 7. 9:12. Wesley Ward sends two from his base at Keeneland – Artemus Citylimits and Infinite – for featured 6 1/2-furlong optional on the new Tapeta synthetic surface.

Charles Town Races. Race 7. 10:02. Still going strong? Congrats. Late stakes to close out the day, the $50,000 A Huevo for West Virginia-breds. Named for the late Grade 1 winner, 9-furlong stakes draws the first seven from Oct. 10 West Virginia Breeders’ Classic Stakes including winner Awsome Faith and 2-5 beaten favorite and Grade 2 winner Runnin’toluvya.


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