The Saturday Special – Sept. 16

- -

Memories of summer days at the races are starting to fade with signs of fall everywhere you turn. The Keeneland September yearling sale is nearing its midpoint, college football is in full swing and tree leaves are starting to change color.

Racing chugs ahead with the Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar now only a mere seven weeks away. The Saturday Special presented by Pin Oak Stud is back for a second week in the post-Saratoga and Del Mar season, with racing at Churchill Downs, Laurel Park and Woodbine taking center stage.

Here’s your primer for Saturday, Sept. 16. Take care and good luck.

Gulfstream Park. Race 1. 12:15 p.m. Racing returns to South Florida for the first time since Sept. 4.

Churchill Downs. Race 1. 12:45. Two-year-olds start the card in this 1-mile maiden. Ezmosh ran well in two starts at Saratoga for Brad Cox and should appreciate the added ground.

Churchill. Race 2. 1:14. The fillies take their turn in 6-furlong maiden for 2-year-olds. Classy Act didn’t make it in a race at Saratoga but shows steady string of works there, on the main and Oklahoma, for Bret Calhoun.

Churchill. Race 3. 1:43. How has it been nearly a month since Race Me Home, son of Oasis Dream and Society Selection, won a two-turn allowance at Saratoga. He goes for another here against seven others.

Laurel Park. Race 3. 2:10. The $100,000 Selima for 2-year-old fillies going 6 furlongs on the grass is first stakes on the card.

Churchill. Race 4. 2:14. Second division of 1-mile maiden for 2-year-olds is a puzzler. Grade ran well at odds-on last time Prairie Meadows and is worth a look at anything near his morning-line price of 15-1.

Belmont Park. Race 3. 2:32. Spa Shackalacka, son of Shackleford who is one of seven first-time starters for 6 1/2-furlong maiden, would be a favorite around the offices of The Saratoga Special. Many a day the phrase, “how’s this schackalacaka?” can be heard from the editors.

Laurel. Race 5. 3:10. Dream Mover flew home late to win Saratoga allowance and takes step up the ladder in $100,000 Laurel Dash going 6 furlongs on the grass.

Woodbine. Race 6. 3:27. Good Bye Greg, also entered in a small stakes at Arlington, might be tough in Grade 3 Bold Venture if he ships in from Chicago. Otherwise, Unbridled Juan and Circle Of Friends should decide 6 1/2-furlong stakes.

Belmont. Race 5. 3:36. A dozen 2-year-old fillies for 1-mile maiden on the grass. All the usual suspects represented, with a slight edge to the Kitten’s Joy filly Wild And Funny for Mark Casse. She’s run twice, finished second to graded stakes winner Dream It Is at Woodbine and third behind Golden Orb at Saratoga.

Laurel. Race 6. 3:40. Light Up Our World and Gianna’s Dream, second and third in the Grade 3 Violet last time at Monmouth, meet On Leave, Juno and Pricedtoperfection in $150,000 All Along.

Arlington Park. Race 4. 4:01. Good Bye Greg puts excellent 6-for-8 record on Arlington’s Poly in the $65,000 Jeff Lynn Memorial.

Laurel. Race 7. 4:10. Ginger N Rye and Miss Ella, 1-2 in Saratoga’s Smart N Fancy, renew budding rivalry in $100,000 Sensible Lady Turf Dash.

Churchill. Race 8. 4:18. Even field of seven older fillies and mares for the Grade 3 Locust Grove. Ian Wilkes sends out two in Fuhriously Kissed and Sweetgrass, while Brad Cox goes with Grade 3 Groupie Doll winner Tiger Moth.

Woodbine. Race 8. 4:29. Quidura just missed in Grade 1 Diana in July at Saratoga and looks extremely tough in Grade 2 Canadian for Graham Motion.

Laurel. Race 8. 4:40. Infinite Wisdom showed he liked stretching out in John’s Call last time at Saratoga. He goes for another turf marathon victory in $100,000 Laurel Turf Cup against Canessar, Manitoulin, Holiday Star and Renown.

Churchill. Race 9. 4:49. Tricky Zippy tries to keep the Newman Racing train rolling in $100,000 Open Mind. She’s a longshot against field led by Mayla and Ivy Bell.

Arlington. Race 6. 5:07. Tip of the cap to track management for the first running of the $65,000 Richard Scherer Memorial. A good guy, gone too soon.

Laurel. Race 9. 5:10. Whitmore returns to Maryland for his first start since the Grade 2 True North in the Grade 3 Frank J. DeFrancis Memorial Dash.

Belmont. Race 8. 5:13. Solid allowance going 1 mile on the main track draws Meantime, a game second in Saratoga allowance in first start since the Belmont Stakes; Harlan Punch, a winner last week at track and trip; Faja, impressive maiden winner last December for Todd Pletcher but not seen since; and Spieth, a handy winner going two turns Aug. 16 at Saratoga.

Churchill. Race 10. 5:20. Kentucky Derby points – yes, you read that right – on the line in Grade 3 Iroquois. First serious test around two turns for the 2-year-olds.

Woodbine. Race 10. 5:31. Godolphin’s Hawkbill is deserving 3-5 favorite for Grade 1 Northern Dancer going 1 1/2 miles on the grass. The winner of Group 2 Princess of Wales’s Stakes two back, he’s run against the best of the best in Europe the last two seasons.

Laurel. Race 10. 5:40. Brendan Walsh looks to keep his strong year rolling with European import Trusting Friend in $100,000 Laurel Futurity. Standing in the way are George Weaver (Majestic Dunhill), Wesley Ward (Battle Station) and Todd Pletcher (Dial One).

Belmont. Race 9. 5:45. Defiant Honor bounced back from sixth in Grade 3 Lake George to win Riskaverse in late August at Saratoga. She takes on good field again in Grade 2 Sands Point, which features French invader Vue Fantastique, La Coronel, Uni and Inflexibility.

Churchill. Race 11. 5:50. The fillies take their turn in the Grade 3 Pocahontas. Snowfire broke her maiden in Louisville last June and finished fourth in Grade 3 Schuylerville as the favorite Opening Day at Saratoga. Daughter of Tapit should appreciate the 1 1/16 miles.

Woodbine. Race 12. 6:34. The featured event of the day, the $1 million Grade 1 Ricoh Woodbine Mile attracts extremely strong field that includes 2015 winner Mondialiste, Arlington Million third Deauville, 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf runner-up Lancaster Bomber, Grade 1 winner World Approval and Dutch Connection. What a race.