A field of Ten Fillies and Mares Three Years Old and Up enter the Big Apple starting gate in the $100,000 ESR Giant Ryan Stakes. The race will be run at One Mile over the Turf Course.
Giant Ryan won the G1 Vosburgh Invitational, the G2 Smile Sprint, the Ponche Handicap at Calder, and the restricted Hamlet Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack in route to being named the 2011 New York Horse of the Year, Champion Sprinter, and Turf horse.
Sadly, Giant Ryan fractured both left front sesamoids during the June 9 G2 True North Handicap and was euthanized five days later at New Bolton Center at the University of Pennsylvania due to complications from his injuries.
NEON LIGHT DIAMOND – when I read the name of this NY-bred it triggered my thought process to Neil Diamond, Sweet Caroline, and the Boston Red Sox; we will have none of that; GO YANKEES…the itch trained 4-Year Old Bay Filly by Golden Missile, out of the G1 winning mare THE DEMON ROAD (Blame), has been nothing short of spectacular, winning seven of her thirteen career starts with earnings just under $300k; the versatile performer has displayed equal dominance over both the Dirt and Turf Course, but her five wins over her last six starts, all on the Turf, is what propels her to the top of the list on Saturday…dangerous
FROZEN HEART – the kingab trained 4-Year Old scratch-bred Bay Filly by Frost Giant out of a Montjeu x Gone West mare might just be the best New York-bred Filly on the Local scene; enters this field fresh off back-to-back ESR Stakes victories in the ESR Saratoga Dew and ESR Circle of Life Stakes respectively, the last while registering a career best 108-speed figure; twelve previous ESR rivals attempted to melt the heart of this icy rival, will nine new adversaries be able to penetrate her Fortress of Solitude…one to beat
MOST PECULIAR – it was a joyous return to the Turf in the last outing of this 4-Year Old Bay Filly by Big Brown out of a Medaglia D’Oro mare, winning an Open Local Bred Allowance at 7.5-furlongs over the Big Apple oval; seven consecutive triple digit performances and back-to-back wins should have the talented casino trained filly poised for a top effort, but will have to be at her best to compete against the top two contenders; connections must be wondering what does it take to win an ESR race… nobody told me there’d be days like these
SQUALL’S EDGE – the trotter1 trained 6-Year Old scratch-bred Bay Mare by The Cliff’s Edge out of a Summer Squall x Fappiano mare certainly knows her way around a racetrack, making her 32nd start with career earnings of more than $500k; the seasoned veteran made her first Turf appearance in her last start, and while she did manage a 2nd place finish, she leaves her best races behind her as she faces a tough challenge here on Saturday…look elsewhere
SUN SEARCHER – the lbailey trained 3-Year Old Light Grey Filly by Mission Impazible out of a Tapit mare in the only 3yo in the field; claimed for 10k two back, the promising NY-bred paid immediately paid dividends for her new connections with a victory in her first Turf appearance at the Local allowance level; noteworthy was her 91 speed-figure posted for that race, 17 points faster than she has ever raced before, perhaps an indication of her preference to the Turf; she will have her work cut out for herself while taking on older rivals in the ESR feature, but could be a factor in the exotics…happy with part
ALPHABET CADET – the cadet trained 4-Year Old Bay Filly by Alpha out of the G1 winning/ graded stakes producing mare KATIE’S SCAB (Danzig), winner of the G1 1607 Looking for TOP TWENTY Special on the Dirt, is the least-likeliest in this field to concede victory to either of the top two candidates with her own cache of lofty credentials on display; the winner of the Royal Cat Dirt Filly Sprint against open-bred rivals has done her best racing while sprinting on the Dirt, however she does demonstrate a win and a second in two Turf appearances, both coming at the Stakes level; if she can find an extra furlong in her grit, she will be a force to reckon with in the ESR feature…main threat
AWESOME FREUD – the capecod trained 4-Year Old scratch-bred Bay Filly by Freud out of a Pulpit x Awesome Again mare finished off the board for the first time in almost a year LTO when she failed to keep pace in the ESR Dancin Renee Stakes at one mile on the Dirt; the lightly raced NY-bred returns to the Turf for only the second time in her career, the first was a 3rd place finish against Local Allowance rivals; her second place finish in the 8.5-furlong CVBears Gotham City Distaff in December highlights this fleet-footed filly’s career, but she likely to be pressed at every pole facing her ESR rivals…must not falter
ANGRY ELF – the second of the cadet trained entries, this a 4-Year Old scratch-bred Light Grey Filly by Mission Impazible out of a Forest Wildcat x Atticus mare has done her best racing while sprinting and suggesting she might be entered in this field to insure a fast pace for stablemate ALPHABET CADET; while she does have some merit on her own, with two previous stakes appearances, she has yet to perform to the level of her main rivals…in tough
LOTTERY ODDS – making the 32nd start of her racing career is the ivanyamil trained 6-Year Old scratch-bred Bay Mare by Pick Six out of a Summer Squall x Theatrical mare; doing most of her racing in the claiming ranks these days, the stakes placed NY-bred finds herself winless in over a year; despite pressing the pace in the 7.5-furlong ESR Saratoga Dew two races back, her best races are behind her and she is faced with a tough challenge here on Saturday…indeed lottery odds
ROULETTE MADNESS – the second of two from the casino racing stables, this one a 4-Year Old Bay Filly by Alpha out of MAD DOG SULLIVAN(Curlin), a winner of more than $200k over the Turf Course; set all the pace in the ESR Saratoga Dew to finish more than 7-lengths behind FROZEN HEART; beaten more than 31 lengths in her three ESR appearances, her chances here on Saturday are worse than a Five Number Bet on a roulette wheel…grind joint
Handicapping the Field
You would think you are at a distinct advantage when you can chop a field of ten down to just three choices. Unfortunately, going from ten to three was a whole lot easier than picking the winner from the three top contenders.
Interestingly, none of the starters from FROZEN HEART’s victories in the ESR Saratoga Dew and ESR Circle of Life Stakes have returned to face her here on Saturday. The kingab filly dominated both those races but faces a new group of challengers unwilling to concede anything to the talented NY-bred. NEON LIGHT DIAMOND is the top-ranked filly in the field and has been first or second in nine consecutive starts and is making her first stakes appearance since her 2yo campaign and first over the Turf Course. ALPHABET CADET is probably the most dangerous horse in this field having won Stakes races outside of Local competition as well as a Turf Stakes against Local competition. The ESR Equinics representative will need to find an extra furlong in her repertoire, and if she does, she will be hard to beat in the feature.
MOST PECULIAR draws in tough and would have to run the race of her life to break up the top three. Tough break for her connections.
SUN SEARCHER faces a tough challenge taking on older horses, but her last was markedly better in her turf debut and could be the horse that makes it a big payday.
AWESOME FREUD has some early foot but is likely to be a victim of a hot pace, while ANGRY ELF appears to be a rabbit in this field.
SQUALL’S EDGE, LOTTERY ODDS, and ROULETTE MADNESS are in over their head and top the Also Ran list.
FROZEN HEART – strictly the one to beat
ALPHABET CADET – gets a big shot in here but distance has me hedging
NEON LIGHT DIAMOND – good times never seemed so good