A field of fourteen Three-Year Old Colts and Geldings will take their skills to the Turf Course and represent their Residencies in the fifth anniversary of the Winter Equinics. The race, named for Hall of Famer SUNNYBANK MEMORIAL, winner of 15 Grade I Stakes including the 2004 Breeders Bowl Turf. He was also a three-time winner of the G-1 Aslan Memorial Stakes and two-time winner of the G-1 Man o’War Stakes. SUNNYBANK MEMORIAL was trained by one of the top trainers of his era, and long- standing member of the Pastures of Green Residency sunnybank, or as he was more affectionately referred to as richlilbit by his Chat room friends.
The field boasts four of the top ten Three-Year Old Turf sprinters in the World, including the 2017 G1 Breeders Bowl Juvenile Turf winner HAUT MONDE. Joining him are Grade I Golden Shoe winner WAKI HADDA and Grade I Middlepark Stakes winner NO NAY SATAN. The field is rounded out nicely by some promising Three-Year Old’s that have established themselves on the Graded and Blacktype level and are primed to take a big run at the top three.
WAKI HADDA – the 3-Year Old Bay Colt by the obscure AUS sire Hvasstan, out of stakes winning, multi-graded stakes producing mare WAKI ALEXIS (Miswaki) has the distinction of being the number two ranked Three Year Old in his class for the mano connections by virtue of his late charging victory in the G1 Golden Shoe defeating EOY award winner WEAVER’S WARRIOR; may have bounced a bit when he finished far back of HAUT MONDE in the 2017 G1 Breeders Bowl Juvenile Turf in his next start, but then came back strongly to win his next two starts in convincing fashion while returning to a sprint where he is six for eight lifetime; gets to avenge his BB loss on Saturday at a distance both horses are equally adept at…dangerous
NO NAY SATAN – the 3-Year Old Bay Gelding by No Nay Never out of the Stakes winning mare SWINGINGWITHSATAN (Pivotal), Dam of the G1 winning DEVIL’S INTENT hails from a long line of top performers stemming back to EOY winner SUPER GOLD. The talented AUS bred began his career against Local Bred competition, but it became clearly obvious this Colt was meant for bigger things; winner of the Northern Chant Turf Juvenile in his first start away from Local competition, the kingranch trained sensation ripped through the competition in his next three starts during his two-year old campaign including the Grade I Middlepark Stakes; his three year old debut, although likely a jog over the track after a two month freshening, may raise some concern when finishing second in a short field of Allowance runners but if you can see past that then you have to like his chances…winning tradition
HAUT MONDE – the round2 trained 3-Year Old scratch-bred Bay Colt by Frankel out of a Mr. Prospector x Secretariat mare is the fields headliner, and why not; winner of the G1 Blue Diamond Road and the 2017 G1 Breeders Bowl is the only multi G1 winner in the field; the wrinkle, he was beaten by more than a length by NO NAY SATAN in the Grade I Middlepark Stakes; won his 3yo debut in fine fashion in the Bent Comet Turf Sprint and looks poised to turn the tables on his adversary here on Saturday…one to beat
ABSENCE OF LIGHT – the 3-Year Old Bay scratch-bred Colt by Acclamation out of a Green Desert x El Prado mare has taken on a rigorous campaign for the dontbetonme stables competing in his seventh consecutive Graded affair; toss out his last over a yielding surface while traveling nine panels for the first time in the G3 Panhandle Park Derby; returns to his best distance as evidenced in this in his victory in the G2 Rich Man but will have to outkick WAKI HADDA to the wire, something he was unable to do in the Golden Shoe; should make a good account of himself on the turnback…chance off best
DYNA AL SYNA – the amir1605 trained 3-Year Old Bay Colt by Captain Al out of the multi-stakes producing mare SYNAFORM (Cape Cross) is 10-5-2-2 in his career; the the G3 winner of the Salisbury Medallion always puts his best foot forward whenever he steps onto the racetrack, however his lone hiccup came in the G1 Golden Shoe where he was in a good company of Colts victimized by WAKI HADDA on that day…game face on
FARHHGO FLYER – scratch-bred 3-Year Old Bay Colt by Farhh out of a Miswaki x Kris S. mare races under the green, white and gold colors of the jms13 racing stables; the ENG bred’s talent was clearly evident by his connections after his debut victory in the Owner Restricted URC Hopes and Dreams 2yo Alw; a win in his next start in the G3 The Railaway drove the point home; cashed a paycheck in every subsequent start in his 2yo campaign including a win in the G2 International before coming up short to EOY winner WEAVER’S WARRIOR in the G1 Futurity; turns back into a sprint for his 3yo debut and will be dangerous if he comes out running…chance if ready
WHISPERING DEATH – the 3-Year Old Bay Colt by Frankel out of the G1 winning mare QUIET CARA (Bernardini) seeks his first Graded victory for the masterm racing stables after giving sway to a stubborn CRIMSON AND DEAD in the G2 Railroad Handicap LTO; the lightly raced ENG bred got off to a fast start reeling off three victories in a row before coming up short in the G2 International in his first start around two turns; expect a more focused horse this time racing in his comfort zone while racing in his best form entering this affair…never been better
THOSE ARE STRINGS – the spinround trained 3-Year Old Bay Colt Not a Single Doubt out of the multi-stakes producing mare SOUL ON FIRE (Giant’s Causeway), Dam of G2 winner SEPAL VEGA, has never failed to gain the lead in any of his seven starts while relinquishing that lead only three times, twice at the graded level and once in the off going; showed good speed against a talented field in the G3 Jellyton Stakes at a mile LTO and should be sharp off that effort turning back to his optimal distance…must not falter
WENTY LAWMAN – the davarto trained 3-Year Old Bay Colt by Lawman out of the multi-stakes producing mare DIVINITY (Elusive Quality) came out flying to begin his career with second place finishes in G3 Triple P and G3 Cyborg respectively after an impressive debut; victimized in the Grade I Middlepark Stakes, his early 2yo form seemed to elude him as he followed up that Middlepark effort with another disappointing run in the Starman Turf Juvenile; quick to respond, connections smartly pulled back on the IRE bred’s regimen entering him in an ALW conditioner before giving him a brief rest leading up to his 3yo debut…must show more
MOUNTAIN GATE – up and down in MSW and Allowance company, the atthewire trained 3-Year Old Bay Colt by Dubawi, out of G3 winning MACULANI (Street Sense) began to figure things out, winning his last two starts, including the Saint Night Turf Sprint in his stakes debut LTO; takes on his toughest challenge yet, but improving horses are dangerous and there is no doubt this colt is heading in the right direction…might be this good
WAR ING – the lightng99 trained 3-Year Old Bay Colt by Charm Spirit out of the multi-stakes producing mare AGUAS CEREZA (War Emblem) has been improving over his last three starts and enters this field off his first stakes victory in the Craft Shuffling Turf Juvenile LTO; makes his first start of his 3yo campaign and should be fast and fit in his first appearance at the Graded level…happy with part
FEAR THE WAR – lightly raced 3-Year Old Bay Colt by War Front is the first foal from the G1 winning mare RULE WITH FEAR (Dabirsim) and has impressed favorably in his five career starts; takes a huge climb up the class ladder in his first stakes appearance but comes into this race fresh off a pair of Allowance wins; the gifted KY bred races under the capable connections of the skunkbred racing circuit, and you can rest assured if these connections have this horse entered in this spot, they have to like their chances…don’t dismiss
VERDUGO GRIS – the 3-Year Old Light Grey Colt by Tapit out of Giant’s Causeway races in the interest of the haack racing stables and although he misses out on all the bells and whistles as some of his opposition in this field, he is a perfect two for two since switching to the Turf Course; sure he’s in deep here, but my dad always said never bet against a horse that has a perfect record on the Turf after they switch over, and hey, this is a Tapit and he is being handled by top connections, so beware…long shot chance
HEY CAT – the 3-Year Old Bay Colt by Tale of the Cat out of a Jimmy Creed mare enters the field on only three career starts; the sledge4 trained KY bred broke his maiden in his last start after he was switched to the Turf Course, sure this looks like an impossible task for the inexperienced contender, but the this is Equinics, and heart often wins out over sheer ability…benefits from this
Handicapping the Field
When you look at this race on paper, the race breaks down to the big three, WAKI HADDA, NO NAY SATAN, and HAUT MONDE. NO NAY SATAN is such an imposing figure when you look at him on paper, but I am leery of his last start at the Allowance level where he finished second in a four-horse field, even if it he was in for a jog. WAKI HADDA and HAUT MONDE have a score to settle, but WAKI HADDA gets compete on his terms here, a distance in which he beat EOY award winner WEAVER’S WARRIOR.
ABSENCE OF LIGHT might be feeling the effects of a rigorous campaign, and although a talented sprinter, he was unable to match strides with WAKI HADDA while he was racing in top form.
DYNA AL SYNA appears to be just a notch below the top three and would have to run a career best to take this one home, while FARHHGO FLYER could really find the magic returning to a sprint.
WHISPERING DEATH, FEAR THE WAR and VERDUGO GRIS all hail from capable connections, but I’m not sure that’s enough to overcome the challenges of this field.
THOSE ARE STRINGS is fast and is easily the one to catch in this field, but he has never been able to shake loose at this level and would have to have everything go his way to succeed.
WENTY LAWMAN is searching for his form right now and I’m not sure he will find it here.
MOUNTAIN GATE might provide your best chance for a big number in the Exotics. He’s getting good at the right time and enters the field with a lot of upside.
WAR ING hails from connections that are no strangers to winning at long odds…might be worth a flyer in the exotics.
HEY CAT gets the Heart of a Champion award, not my bet, but an exemplary example of what Equinics is all about.
WAKI HADDA – gets top play off extraordinary performance in the Golden Shoe
HAUT MONDE – most likely to upset the top choice
MOUNTAIN GATE- taking a shot here with a horse that might be moving up while others are on the way down
NO NAY SATAN – might have been top choice but last out chased me away
FARHHGO FLYER – best chance to upset at a price