The Saturday Special – Sept. 30

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Now this is a serious Saturday. Breeders’ Cup prep races from coast-to-coast and The Saturday Special presented by Pin Oak Stud takes a look at all the action from Belmont Park, Santa Anita Park, Churchill Downs, Laurel Park and beyond. 

Don’t forget racing overseas, which kicks off the day with strong cards at Newmarket, Gowran Park, Haydock and more.

Belmont presents a strong day of racing topped by the Grade 1 trio of the Beldame, Joe Hirsch Turf Classic and Vosburgh while Santa Anita rolls out the first Saturday card of the former Oak Tree meeting with five Grade 1s on tap.

Let’s get started; here’s your primer for Saturday, Sept. 30. Enjoy and good luck.

Gowran Park. Race 1. 8:45 a.m. Start taking your notes, juvenile hurdlers march toward March greatness.

Newmarket. Race 1. 8:50. Start here. Stay here. The Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes pulls the tap on a big day. Herculean, a son of Frankel, clashes with Nelson, a son of Frankel, in the opener. 

Newmarket. Race 2. 9:20. The Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes offers $262,500 for juvenile fillies. Clemmie tries to add a Grade 1 stakes win to her Grade 2 and Grade 3 tallies so far.

Ripon. Race 2. 9:35. The poorly named but fast-running Trumps Up puts his undefeated record on the line.

Newmarket. Race 3. 9:55. The Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes. Aidan O’Brien runs four American-breds (three sons of War Front and a son of Scat Daddy) in the Group 1 juvenile stakes. Ryan Moore chooses Sioux Nation, winner of the Norfolk and Keeneland Phoenix.

Haydock. Race 4. 10:15. Sainted, 4-for-6 in her career, takes on the boys in the 32Red Gold Cup Heritage Handicap for a cool $110,500.

Gowran Park. Race 4. 10:25. Ben Button, Plinth and a solid group of 3-mile hurdlers aim at a lucrative $52,500 prize.

Newmarket. Race 4. 10:35. The Betfred Cambridgeshire Handicap. We touted Brorocco last week and he walloped 18 rivals at 8-1. Well, he’s part of the mutuel field here, but looks live on a quick turnaround. Think 18 horses provided a daunting task, he’s got to beat 34 this time.

Market Rasen. Race 4. 10:55. Solid hurdlers Dear Sire, who seeks his third win in a row, and Red Tornado, returning for his first start since June, clash in a listed handicap hurdle.

Gowran Park. Race 5. 11:00. Did you hear Ballycasey and Shaneshill were thinking about coming to America? Watch this and see if they stamp their tickets this direction.  

Market Rasen. Race 5. 11:30. Work In Progress was way more than a work in progress this summer, he won three chases by a combined 50 1/2 lengths.

Newmarket. Race 6. 11:45. The British EBF ‘Jersey Lily’ Fillies Nursery attracts two-time winner Exhort. Ryan Moore takes over for Paul Hanagan on the daughter of Dutch Art.

Haydock. Race 7. Noon. Sepal, an American-bred daughter of Afleet Alex, rides a four-race win streak into the 1 3/4-mile handicap. 

Gulfstream Park. Race 2. 12:28 p.m. First of six stakes on the card is $400,000 Florida Sire In Reality with only a field of six. Soutache won the Affirmed division of same series Sept. 2 and is back.

Laurel Park. Race 1. 12:30. The “Class on the Grass” card gets rolling with $60,000 Bert Allen for Virginia-breds going 1 1/16 miles. Special Envoy is 2-5 on the line and looks to improve on last year’s runner-up in same race.

Gulfstream. Race 4. 1:25. Orpheus, 12-for-31 in South America, makes first start in the U.S. in the $75,000 Mr. Steele going 1 mile on the grass. Galleon Mast, Blue Harbor and J R’s Holiday, the first three from The Vid Stakes, are back.

Laurel. Race 3. 1:30. More Virginia-breds for the $60,000 Brookmeade. Arnaud Delacour, who also trains Special Envoy, sends out the favorite in this 1 1/16-mile event in Armoire off back-to-back second-place finishes locally.

Belmont Park. Race 3. 1:38. Two-year-olds stretch out to 1 1/16 miles in maiden race on the main track. Biblical, High North, Road To Meath, Call The Cat, Avery Island and First Warrior exit maiden races at Saratoga, some with success and some without.

Churchill Downs. Race 3. 1:43. Gull Island, daughter of Giant’s Causeway out of champion and Kentucky Oaks winner Bird Town, tries to break maiden in fifth start for Ian Wilkes going 1 mile on the main track.

Belmont. Race 4. 2:12. Lunaire, Cruz Diez, Hello Holiday and Funtastic – second, fourth, fifth and ninth in Saratoga allowance closing weekend – are back for 1 1/16-mile allowance on the grass with the comebacking Soglio, Juddmonte’s Via Egnatia and Hot And Heavy first off the claim for Merrill Scherer.

Gulfstream. Race 6. 2:25. Dial One, third in Saratoga’s off-the-turf Skidmore, is back on the grass for $75,0000 Armed Forces. Son of Dialed In broke his maiden on the Gulfstream turf in late May and could get a test from Renaisance Frolic.

Chelmsford City. Race 4. 2:20. One of these days, Richard Pankhurst is going to rebound to his best. Maybe it’s today… shortening up to 7 furlongs on synthetic.

Laurel. Race 5. 2:30. Two Notch Road handled Virginia-breds two back then finished eighth behind some heavyweights in Grade 3 Turf Monster at Parx. He’s back with state-breds for $60,000 Punch Line.

Delaware Park. Race 4. 2:36. Marengo Road looks to follow-up 19-length win in off-the-turf race at Penn National last time in $75,000 DTHA Governor’s Day Handicap, restricted to 3-year-olds and up who have started at Delaware Park in 2017.

Belmont. Race 5. 2:48. Square Shooter, recovered from a cut below the knee the Withers Stakes back in February, makes first start for Jeremiah Englehart in 7-furlong allowance. Swale Stakes winner Favorable Outcome also makes his first start in Feb. 4

Laurel. Race 6. 3:00. Fillies and mares take their turn in turf sprint in $60,000 Oakley for Virginia-breds. Exaggerated won this race in second career start in 2015 and comes off long freshening for Arnaud Delacour.

Churchill. Race 6. 3:16. Perfect Partner, third in Curlin Stakes two starts back, returns to the main track for two-turn allowance.

Delaware. Race 6. 3:30. Prince Lucky, an easy winner of debut Aug. 28 for Larry Jones, looks to make it 2-for-2 in $75,000 First State Dash.

Santa Anita Park. Race 1. 3:30. Opener is for 2-year-old maidens going 1 mile on the grass. Jerry Hollendorfer sends out the Broken Vow colt Channel Crossing off drubbing by Bolt d’Oro in Del Mar maiden.

Laurel. Race 7. 3:30. Chad Brown holds strong hand in Grade 3 Commonwealth Oaks (the former Virginia Oaks) with Rymska and Taperge but don’t look past Proud Reunion, Chubby Star, Flower Fashion and In The Lee.

Woodbine. Race 6. 3:43. Brendan Walsh spoke highly of Enthrall this summer, shortly after European import finished seventh in Grade 2 San Clemente at Del Mar. Daughter of Bernardini is back on synthetic – where she broke her maiden in May at Lyon La Soie in France – for $100,000 La Lorgnette.

Laurel. Race 8. 4:00. Well hello old friend. Sort of. Here is the Grade 2 Baltimore/Washington International Turf Cup, a fall graded stakes in Maryland that isn’t the Washington, D.C. International but is a nice addition to the lineup. Looks like a good option for the likes of Projected, Catapult, Ring Weekend and Blacktype, who might have been up against it in races like the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile.

Finger Lakes. Race 7. 4:04. Anyone with a New York-bred wouldn’t want to miss this, the $216,875 New York Breeders’ Futurity. Only a field of seven so some certainly will bypass that big pot. Not Jeremiah Englehart, who goes with Funny Cide winner Aveenu Malcainu and the stakes-winning filly Indy’s Lady; Todd Pletcher, who sends out Repole Stable’s Analyze The Odds; and Jim Ryerson, who runs Aspirant winner Mr. Pete.

Belmont. Race 7. 4:04. El Deal couldn’t have been better winning the Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt by 8 lengths in late July at Saratoga. He’s back against six others, including promising 3-year-olds Takaful and Mr. Crow, in Grade 1 Vosburgh.

Churchill. Race 8. 4:18. Mr. Misunderstood puts 5-for-5 record on the grass on the line in $100,000 Jefferson Cup. Plenty of capable potential upsetters, including Giant Payday, Bronson, Adonis Creed, Guest Suite and Mr Cub.

Gulfstream. Race 10. 4:25. Big group of 11 fillies and mares for $75,000 Monroe going 1 1/16 miles on the grass. Looks like a re-run of the Sept. 2 Wasted Tears with the super high 5  of Bonita (first), Mizz Money (second), Temple Fur (third), King’s Ghost (fourth) and Imperial Secret (fifth) in the field.

Delaware. Race 8. 4:24. Big field of 13 fillies and mares for $75,000 George Rosenberger Memorial going 1 1/16 miles on the grass. Boreale won locally in June and exits third in stakes 24 days ago at Kentucky Downs.

Santa Anita. Race 3. 4:30. Instilled Regard chased highly regarded St. Patrick’s Day when second in debut Sept. 2 at Del Mar. Son of Arch, who cost $1.05 million in March, is back against 11 others in 6-furlong maiden that draws runners from Bob Baffert (Mourinho), Richard Mandella (Peace), Doug O’Neill (Tizona) and Keith Desormeaux (Charming Ruler and Blue Ox).

Laurel. Race 9. 4:30. Yes To The Dress and Holding Fast hold at least one edge over the  other six entered in the $60,000 Jamestown for Virginia-bred 2-year-olds: they’ve won a race. The former is 3-5 for Ron Moquett off a 4-length score at Delaware Park.

Belmont. Race 8. 4:37. The Grade 3 Pilgrim offers chance for 2-year-olds to land spot in Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. Seabhac endured a somewhat troubled trip in the Grade 3 With Anticipation and should fare better in third start, while Todd Pletcher also sends out impressive first-out maiden winner Maraud.

Churchill. Race 9. 4:49. Honorable Duty chased Gun Runner when second last time in Grade 1 Stephen Foster. Brendan Walsh gave him time, skipped Saratoga and took aim at Grade 3 Lukas Classic. He’s the one to beat in $200,000 stakes that also attracts Eagle, Seeking The Soul and Fear The Cowboy.

Delaware. Race 9. 4:51. A dozen line up for $75,000 Small Wonder for 2-year-old fillies.

Woodbine. Race 8. 4:51. Melmich, unbeaten in four starts this season after runner-up in Grade 3 Valedictory to end 2016, takes on four others in Grade 3 Durham Cup going 9 furlongs on the Tapeta.

Belmont. Race 9. 5:11. Elate tries to continue her late-season push toward a possible championship in Grade 1 Beldame, which comes up fairly light with defending champ Forever Unbridled skipping the race.

Delaware. Race 10. 5:18. Another stakes, another big field. Eleven fillies and mares entered for $75,000 Tax Free Shopping Distaff. Hailey’s Flip chased Crabcakes in her most recent start after an easy win in the slop at Delaware two back.

Churchill. Race 10. 5:20. Awesome Slew exits good second in Grade 1 Forego and is standout in Grade 3 Ack Ack stretching out to 1 mile. Zulu makes first start for Wayne Catalano while Conquest Big E shortens back up to a mile after fourth in Grade 3 Iselin last time out.

Santa Anita. Race 5. 5:30. Paradise Woods, well beaten favorite in the Kentucky Oaks and sixth of seven in Grade 3 Torrey Pines in late August at Del Mar, tries to get back on track in the Grade 1 Zenyatta. Not the strongest edition of this $300,000 event, with the other main contenders exiting the restricted Tranquility Lake Stakes.

Gulfstream. Race 12. 5:30. Stanley Gold sends out pair of Arindel homebreds Blonde Bomber and Denver in $75,000 Our Dear Peggy for 2-year-old fillies on the grass.

Laurel. Race 11. 5:30. Linda Rice pulled off one of the more impressive feats of the year when she sent Voodoo Song out to four victories at the Saratoga meet, including the Grade 3 Saranac closing weekend. Now she’s back with the English Channel colt for the Grade 3 Commonwealth Derby.

Belmont. Race 10. 5:45. Sadler’s Joy and Money Multiplier, 1-2 in last month’s Grade 1 Sword Dancer, are back to take on multiple Grade 1-winning sophomore Oscar Performance in the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic. Arlington Million winner Beach Patrol and Woodford Reserve Manhattan winner Ascend are also in the field, along with European import The Grey Gatsby, Fanciful Angel and Mekhtaal. We can hope the Breeders’ Cup Turf is as strong.

Delaware. Race 11. 5:45. Winplaceorshowono, 3-year-old son of Dance With Ravens is 2-for-4 at Delaware, takes on older foes in $75,000 New Castle going 6 furlongs.

Gulfstream. Race 13. 6:03. It definitely pays to have a Florida-bred. The second of two $400,000 stakes on the card is the Florida Sire My Dear Girl, which features four maidens and the first four from the Susan’s Girl in Starship Bonita, Desert Honeys (one of the maidens), Go Astray, Awesome Mass and Pantyhose (another maiden).

Santa Anita. Race 7. 6:30. Moonshine Memories topped Piedi Bianchi by a half-length in the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante and those two are back for the Grade 1 Chandelier.

Santa Anita. Race 8. 7:00. Bolt d’Oro ran his record to 2-for-2 in Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity and should be favored against Zatter, Texas Wedge, Encumbered and Solomini in strong edition of Grade 1 FrontRunner.

Santa Anita. Race 9. 7:30. Spots for the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf on the line in Grade 1 Rodeo Drive, a 10-furlong turf test for fillies and mares. “Big Money” Mike Smith is aboard Goldy Espony, who used to do her work on the East Coast with Chad Brown before being transferred to Bob Baffert this spring. Richard Mandella sends out a pair in 2016 winner and Filly and Mare Turf third Avenge and last-out stakes winner Majestic Heat.

Santa Anita. Race 10. 8:00. Possible contenders for Breeders’ Cup Classic and Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile should emerge from Grade 1 Awesome Again. Mubtaahij and Cupid go out for Bob Baffert, who already has top Classic threats Arrogate and Connect, while Reade Baker ships Breaking Lucky to the West Coast and secures Mike Smith to ride the Whitney third-place finisher. Dortmund entered but trainer Art Sherman indicated he might look for an easier spot for the comebacking Grade 1 winner.

Santa Anita. Race 11. 8:30. They’re not done yet in Arcadia, with the $70,000 Unzip Me going 6 1/2 furlongs down the hill closing the card.