A full field of Fifteen Older horses will enter the Big Apple starting gate in the $100,000 ESR Flea and the Acrobat Stakes. The race will be run at Nine Furlongs over the Turf Course.
‘Picture your own dimension as a tightrope, and all the people in it, including yourself, as acrobats on the tightrope. To an acrobat, the tightrope is flat — the acrobat can walk forward or backwards along the rope, but that’s it. The acrobat can’t turn upside down (thanks, gravity), or plunge past the rope. Now imagine a flea perched on that same tightrope. The flea isn’t limited like the acrobat. The flea can go up and down. The flea can get to the other dimension.’
MOHEGAN SUN CADET – it’s been almost nine months since the 2016 Breeders’ Bowl Turf Mile champion has stepped inside the winner’s circle, but then this is the first time in almost a year that he’s stepped away from graded competition to compete at the listed level; sure the cadet trained 6-Year Old Bay Horse by Sea the Stars isn’t quite what he used to be, but the 2018 ESR Equinics representative still demonstrates an intimidating late closing ability and should have little trouble running this group during the stretch run…one to beat
SAM ADAMS – it took a while for this nextbonus trained 4-Year Old Bay Colt by Amercain to figure things out, but once connections introduced this KY bred to the Turf, there was no looking back; the winner of five of ten turf starts, including victories in the Duke Pinky Turf Route in September and the Alone Between Robe Turf Route last time out suggest a horse that still has some bigger victories ahead of him and distinguishes himself as a major player in the ESR feature on Saturday…never better
CARIBBEAN GHOST – it was only a year ago that the kingab trained 4-Year Old Light Grey Colt by Ghostzapper had his sights set on Bluegrass Derby after his smashing victory in the Grade I Wooden Indian-Derby Lock Prep, but then bottom fell out soon after for the talented Derby hopeful and it wasn’t until six starts later, when he was switched to the Turf Course, that he visited the winner’s circle once again; despite a solid second place finish LTO in the Spare T Turf Route, I’m not convinced this is a case of a horse that prefers the Turf over the Dirt, but rather a horse that has just regained his early 3yo form, and while he certainly has the class to qualify as a major player in the ESR feature, I would not be surprised to see a Dirt start in the near future should he fail to fire on Saturday…might be this good on the turf
BALATA – it has been a while since the balata connections have entered in an ESR feature, but after a gate to wire victory in the Dubeye Turf Route LTO, the pro has decided to make his comeback with this 6-Year Old Bay Horse by Galileo; the speedy IRE bred has been a model of consistency in his 27 career starts finishing ITM in 21 of those starts, so his regression in his previous two starts prior to that victory may have been more of an aberration than a true representation of the scratch-breds steadiness…one to catch
EXCEED AND DANCE – it is hard to say if this 4-Year Old Bay Colt by Teofilo will be as effective going nine panels here on Saturday considering his best racing has been demonstrated in races of 10f or greater, including a stellar performance in the 12-furlong G2 Sandy Ray Handicap LTO, but you can never discount the success of the nycowboy connections, so if he has the IRE bred entered, you know he is confident the horse will get things done in this week’s ESR showcase event…last was best
THE BLOOD ARCHON – the awkwardandchai 5-Year Old Brown Gelding by Candy Ride is a classic example of a good claim; the $40k shakeout has almost tripled his selling price in earnings with his four victories for his new connections, including a win in the European Royalty Turf Route two back; gave a good account of himself in the in the G3 Apple Martini Handicap LTO and in his current form could menace here on Saturday…never better
CASINO TITAN – the multi-stakes winning 5-Year Old Bay Horse by Giant’s Causeway should be poised for a top effort for the casino racing stable while making his second start off the layoff; despite a victory in the 9.5-furlong Lexington Park Ii Turf Route last June, my gut tells me this KY-bred is better suited to a mile, but then I would have told you the same thing before his Lexington victory too; however his consistency has been displayed at shorter distances prompting my hesitation to endorse, but connections are overdue, and it’s not like I haven’t been wrong before…might surprise
SOVRANO – regardless of the competition, when you win a race by 2 lengths posting a 114-speed figure, you are a horse for the watchlist; thus is the case for the frankster trained 4 Year Old Bay Colt by New Approach when he crushed a field of local-breds in his second start off a layoff in Allowance conditions LTO; the winner of the ESR Bozeman Reaction Stakes, a race where he has beaten SAM ADAMS and YOUR JOY handily, should be up to the task here on Saturday while racing in top form…dangerous
YOUR JOY – the trotter1 trained 4-Year Old Light Grey Colt by Kitten’s Joy is the classic example of a trainer just wanting to have an entry in a Residency feature race; the KY bred, while representative at the Allowance level, is not up to the caliber of horses in Saturday’s field…look elsewhere
SCHIONATULANDER – what appeared to be a successful career over the turf for the spinround trained 4-Year Old Bay Colt By Snitzel, which included three ITM finishes in all three of his Turf Stakes appearances, was sidetracked when the AUS bred changed direction with three consecutive Dirt appearances, and although he raced competitively over the sandy loam, his return to the turf after a three month layoff caught everyone’s eye when he posted a 121 speed figure thus setting the course for his 2018 campaign; may have bounced a bit in his last start in the Speightful Turf Special, but was to be expected; all systems go on Saturday and poised for a big effort…one to watch
DARK SAINTS GO – toss out the last, at some point all deeprock’s trainee’s get entered into LONG races, and although this 5-Year Old Chestnut Horse by Ice Box has a second and third place finish in these marathon races, they came in small fields against limited winner’s; he is well-placed here on Saturday and will look more like the horse that that won at 9.5-furlongs two races back than the horse that lost by more than 30 lengths in the 11-Furlong Nxds Johann Zalazl Turf Endurance LTO…in tough
SOUTHERN SHAM – the word is out, the backstretch is abuzz, the lbailey trained 4-Year Old Brown Colt by Shamardal has arrived; after a strong closing third place finish in the 11-furlong River Jupiter Turf Stayer last time out, the IRE bred colt returns to 9 panels where he ran a career best two races back with an Allowance victory while posting a 114-speed figure; has all the indications of a horse ready to take it to the next level at a distance well within his wheelhouse…live
FABFARM DAN – the aladar trained 7-Year Old Bay Horse Indiana-bred has certainly held his own against open-bred company horses in his 22-race career and the deep closing senior member of the field has never been better coming off a pair of fast closing efforts in an Open Allowance and Local Championship Stakes respectively in his last two starts; the one time claimer has never been off the board at this distance, and while he might be considered a notch below the competition, he is certainly a candidate to spice up the exotics…happy with part
SAVE THE FLAG – although this might feel like sloppy seconds for irisharse who is following up my handling of his stables in his absence, it doesn’t mean that it won’t be better, especially when you consider I ran this horse only once in his career at 9 panels; first or second in more than half of his 24 career starts, this 5-Year Old Light Grey Horse by Super Saver can run and benefits from a fast early pace…can’t ignore
NAMESTNIKOV – after an almost half million-dollar career over the Dirt Course the 6-Year Old Roan Horse by Puck will make his first start over the Turf Course; sure the savvy veteran might have his best races behind him, 13 career graded appearances, but the surface switch might be a welcome change for the multi-stakes winner; am I a fan of betting horse’s trying something for the first time; no, but one thing this handicapper has learned, ace trained horses have a way of making me eat my words…your call
Handicapping the Field
Two Grade 1 winners, Two Stakes winning Graded placed entries, One Graded placed runner, Five Stakes winners, and Four Stakes placed horses make up one of the most competitive races in ESR history.
MOHEGAN SUN CADET and CARIBBEAN GHOST have both registered G1 victories, in fact MOHEGAN SUN CADET has multiple Graded wins in his past performances and easily gets top billing in the ESR feature.
SOVRANO was much the best when facing SAM ADAMS in the ESR Bozeman Reaction Stakes at 10-furlongs, but SAM ADAMS is a much better horse since their last meeting and is more suited to the 9-furlongs. Separating these two is like splitting hairs.
I don’t know if anyone in this field can put enough pressure on BALATA to keep him from getting loose on the lead. Do I think he is the best horse in the field; no, but at any level of racing lone speed is dangerous and hard to catch.
SOUTHERN SHAM has the looks of a horse ready to run a new top and is a must in all your multiples.
EXCEED AND DANCE prefers to race longer, while I believe CASINO TITAN is better suited for the mile.
SCHIONATULANDER and SAVE THE FLAG and THE BLOOD ARCHON are all interesting plays in this field, each capable of a big effort, and candidates for an upset.
NAMESTNIKOV, DARK SAINTS GO, YOUR JOY and FABFARM DAN would surprise, and in tough fields like this, someone must be thrown out, you just hope it doesn’t come back to bite you.
MOHEGAN SUN CADET – I don’t know how you can pick against him
SOUTHERN SHAM – hard to bet against his last pair
BALATA – one to catch in a pace-less race