The holiday season is in the books. New Year’s Eve and Day, too. Days now are spent counting down, looking ahead to the end of winter perhaps, maybe the Pegasus World Cup, Cheltenham Festival, Triple Crown and the first hints of spring. Some are still quite a ways off, so what better reason to settle in for the winter slumber than racing on the tube.
The year’s first Saturday Special presented by Pin Oak Stud gets rolling with Sandown, Kenilworth, Wincanton and Cork overseas before picking up here in the U.S. for afternoon cards at Aqueduct, Fair Grounds, Gulfstream, Santa Anita and more. It’s a relatively light schedule here in the U.S., with less than a dozen stakes, but there’s plenty down the road.
Here’s your primer for Saturday, January 7. Good luck and enjoy.
Sandown. Race 1. 7:10 a.m. The best jump racing of the day starts here. Get your clues for Cheltenham in this juvenile hurdle.
Sandown. Race 2. 7:45. A listed mares’ hurdle attracts seven, including Briery Queen, the stable star for Noel Williams, former assistant to Alan King.
Kenilworth. Race 4. 7:50. Start down south with the Glorious Goodwood Peninsula Handicap. Whiskey Baron seeks his fourth straight while sons of Go Deputy, Mambo In Seattle and Street Cry take their shots.
Sandown. Race 4. 8:50. Champion jockey Richard Johnson keeps on firing, he rides Garde La Victoire for his longtime patron Phillip Hobbs.
Kenilworth. Race 6. 9:00. Bela-Bela had her prep, she’s ready for the Maine Chance Farms Paddock Stakes, a Grade 1 for fillies and mares.
Wincanton. Race 3. 9:05. Veteran Fox Appeal returns from a win 17 days ago to lead the charge in a competitive handicap chase.
Sandown. Race 5. 9:25. The Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle attracts six including another burner from the burgeoning Colin Tizzard yard, Finian’s Oscar, he tries to climb the ladder.
Kenilworth. Race 7. 9:40. Legal Eagle looks good to us in the Grade 1 L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate.
Sandown. Race 6. 10:00. Dynaste has slipped down the handicap, maybe it’s time for his return, he takes on 18 rivals, including gallant veterans Pete The Feat, Forgotten Gold and Rocky Creek. The veterans’ handicap condition once again offers a sweet spot for old servants to stay productive.
Cork. Race 5. 10:05. Ireland saves its best racing for Sunday but this is an interesting beginner’s chase. Big trainers, promising horses.
Gulfstream Park. Race 3. 1:00 p.m. The $100,000 Old Hat is the first of five stakes on the card and it’s a 6-furlong event for the 3-year-old fillies. Bode’s Dream is 3-for-3 and will be tough if she runs back to her win last month in the House Party.
Aqueduct. Race 3. 1:20. Highway Star, winner of three straight, and Wonder Gal are back again for $100,000 Ladies Handicap. One of the oldest stakes in North America, 1-mile and 70-yard test goes for the 146th time. Past winners include Maskette, Top Flight, Vagrancy, Athenia, Next Move, Flower Bowl, Tempted and Shuvee. Those names should ring a bell, since there are races named for all, or at least at one time there were races named in their honor.
Gulfstream. Race 4. 1:30. The Grade 3 Dania Beach going 7 1/2 furlongs on the grass. Made You Look, winner of the Grade 2 With Anticipation at Saratoga, looks to rebound from sixth in Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.
Gulfstream. Race 5. 2:00. Two-turn maiden race for 3-year-olds. Monaco, a colt by Uncle Mo bought last March for $1.3 million, didn’t impress in debut at Saratoga but shows a steady work tab at Palm Beach Downs for Todd Pletcher.
Parx Racing. Race 5. 2:13. The $75,000 Donna Freyer for 3-year-old fillies that spent 90 days in South Carolina. Field of nine is an interesting group led by Saratoga maiden winner and stakes-placed New York-bred Passporttovictory, Maryland Million Lassie winner Item and first-time starter Corporate Queen.
Gulfstream. Race 6. 2:30. Jimmy Jerkens sends out Joe Allen homebred Secretary At War, a son of War Front out of Grade 3 placed mare, in 1 1/16-mile turf maiden.
Wolverhampton. Race 5. 2:45. Chupalla, a debut winner in March and fifth in a listed stakes in May, makes her return for Mark Johnston.
Gulfstream. Race 7. 3:01. Tale Of S’avall gets class relief after trying Grade 1 company again last time in Cigar Mile. He won 1-mile allowance two back and looks good in this 7-furlong allowance.
Laurel Park. Race 7. 3:30. Crabcakes handled winners last time in Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship and looks to make it three straight in 6-furlong allowance.
Santa Anita Park. Race 1. 3:30. Princess Leia, 3-year-old daughter of Awesome Again who runs first off the claim for Rafael Becerra, is a must for hunch players after the recent death of Carrie Fisher.
Wolverhampton. Race 7. 3:45. American-bred Fear The Fury, a son of Elusive Quality and the Unbridled’s Song mare O Beautiful, makes his career debut against 11 rivals.
Aqueduct. Race 8. 3:50. Allowance going 6 furlongs features field of 11 that includes Roll Tide Roll. Maybe a sign of things to come in Monday’s college football championship?
Tampa Bay Downs. Race 7. 3:55. Consulting, third last time after leading early in the Selima Stakes, moves to the main track in attempt to break maiden in fourth start for Tom Proctor. Shug McGaughey and Christophe Clement send out first-time starters Suburb and Marie Joelle, respectively, from Payson Park.
Gulfstream. Race 9. 4:03. The $100,000 Ginger Brew for 3-year-old fillies going 7 1/2 furlongs marks the turf debut for the 3-for-3 Court Vision filly Conquest Vivi.
Aqueduct. Race 9. 4:20. State-bred maidens close the card. Lacey Gaudet sends out Conquest Prankster, bought out of Conquest Stables dispersal at Keeneland November sale for $40,000, for the first time.
Santa Anita. Race 3. 4:30. Fillies and mares go down the hill in Grade 3 Las Cienegas. Prize Exhibit, eighth in Grade 1 Matriarch behind Miss Temple City, is 3-for-10 on the Santa Anita turf and won the Grade 2 Monrovia on the hillside course last winter.
Gulfstream. Race 10. 4:34. The road to the Florida Derby, Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown gets serious in South Florida now with the $100,000 Mucho Macho Man going 1 mile out of the chute. Big field of 11 and Hemsworth, winner of the Grade 2 Nashua, won’t be hurt by extreme outside draw.
Fair Grounds. Race 6. 4:40. Wet weather has hampered the cards lately in New Orleans. Here’s hoping things dry out for this 1-mile allowance on the grass.
Santa Anita. Race 4. 5:00. Cal-bred maiden 3-year-old fillies go 5 1/2 furlongs. Bob Baffert, seen this week in advertisements with MMA superstar Conor McGregor, sends out the Lucky Pulpit filly Divine Spark.
Fair Grounds. Race 8. 5:34. Another allowance on the grass with a big field, this one for older horses.
Penn National Race Course. Race 1. 6:00. State-bred 3-year-old fillies kick off the card in 6-furlong maiden.
Santa Anita. Race 7. 6:30. Southern California’s road to the Kentucky Derby and the classics begins with the Grade 3 Sham. Gormley, winner of the Grade 1 FrontRunner then seventh after a bad start in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, makes 2017 debut for John Shirreffs while American Anthem looks to make it 2-for-2 for Bob Baffert.
Santa Anita. Race 9. 7:30. Ring Weekend bounced back from Breeders’ Cup Mile with victory last time in the Grade 2 Seabiscuit. Word is he’s looking to solidify credentials for a trip to Royal Ascot in Grade 2 San Gabriel going 9 furlongs on the grass.
Turfway Park. Race 6. 8:40. Full field – with two on the also-eligible list – for $50,000 Wintergreen going 1 mile on the Polytrack. Charlie LoPresti sends out Miner’s Cat, daughter of Mineshaft who broke her maiden in mid-November at Churchill Downs. Mike Maker goes with Susie Bee, who gets class relief after back-to-back stakes tries in South Florida.