A rare Grade 1 turf sprint will take off Sunday in the Pekay’s Remembrance Stakes at New Zealand. At 6 furlongs and over a firm turf course, 14 runners of intrigue will duel to see who can make their mark in the turf sprint division. Let’s take a look:
1) LIAM’S CRUISING – liam18 – 8/1
Hasn’t found the winner’s circle since last February when he won a listed stakes, but has been nothing but game against graded company in this division. Coming off a game 5th place finish in the King Kong Sprint over a yielding turf course in December. No reason to think this one won’t be a factor on Sunday.
2) JUNIOR BUYER – hillbilly1 – 18/1
This 4-year-old is facing older company for the first time and finished off the board in his only other graded try back in March. However, he has shown good form since then and has the speed figures to rival any others in the field. Looks to be a value play here and very well could wind up on the board.
3) BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN – sjmeola17 – 14/1
“The Boss” won 8 of 9 starts in his 3-year-old campaign last year and has nothing left to prove at the listed level. Trying graded company for the first time for the sjmeola stables. Looking to extend his winning streak to four and kick off the 2019 season with a bang.
4) TICA BLUE SEA – jh5 – 13/1
Seems to be feast or famine with this 5-year-old son of Sebring. Really floundered last time out when he ran 10th in a listed stakes and putting up a speed of just 86. Hasn’t sniffed the board in his two Grade 1 tries. Does have a Grade 2 victory at this distance back in March on his resume. His connections will be hoping the “feast” form shows on Sunday.
5) SHERPA RAY’S TAP – browns2 – 5/1
Morning line Co-favorite is making his first start since early November where he came 4th of 8 runners in the Grade 2 Because I Said So Stakes. Failed to fire in his only other Grade 1 stakes try – The Long Champ Stakes. Went on an impressive string of 3 straight wins after switching to turf last year, including the Grade 2 King’s Play in August. If he can return to that form after a decent rest, he very well could be the one to beat here.
6) FERNANDO WAR – fersara – 10/1
This decorated 6-year-old son of War champ is the only runner in this contest with $1 million in earnings to his name. He is making his 31st career start Sunday and hasn’t had a real convincing performance since winning the Sydney Sprint back in April. One has to wonder if he has anything left in the tank. His connections will be looking for a cherry to top off this impressive career.
7) HUSKER JUSTICE – arsekickers – 20/1
At 20/1 he is the longest shot on the board in this contest. Doesn’t appear to have the speed figures to match the rest of this field, but he is coming off his best career start last time out. He beat older horses as a 3-year-old in a listed stakes at this distance in that start. Looks to be improving heading into this one and will need another big leap forward to finish towards the front in this contest.
8) SOUNDS OF CRUMB – whoami1 – 15/1
The lone filly, daughter of Snitzel, in this contest has run against the boys in the previous 3 starts. Her best performance amongst those starts was a 2nd place finish behind SHERPA RAY’S TAP in the King’s Play. Didn’t come close in her previous two tries with the same jockey up. Will need her biggest run yet to be competitive in this one.
9) FISSFIEND – fairhaven8 – 8/1
This 5-year-old son of Excelebration likes to come from behind and looks to be facing quite a bit of early speed in this one. Has yet to find the winner’s circle against graded company but has plenty of competitive performance on his resume. Came 4th in the King Kong Sprint last time out on the yielding surface. Will he be able to pass them all before they reach the finish line? Should be a fun one to watch in this contest.
10) SPEAKER BEAUCHAMP – tees10 – 10/1
This son of Mr. Speaker had a very successful 4-year-old campaign which included two graded wins in the sprint Division and ended with a respectable 4th place finish in the Breeders’ Bowl Turf Sprint. Only 1 of 2 in this race with a Grade 1 win on his resume. Seems the distance and surface have been figured out for this one and should be a contender in the race as well as down the road in the turf sprint division.
11) KID FRANKY – aalex311 – 5/1
This 5-year-old son of Frankel went on a tear through 2018. At one point he won 4 of 5, including 3 graded wins, before throwing out a clunker over the questionable turf course in the King Kong Sprint. A firm turf course will be a welcome sight for this horse and his connections as he looks to jump back into form. He is the other co-favorite of the field and certainly is one to consider when handicapping this race.
12) CAPTAIN BONES – ksparrow1 – 14/1
If you throw away his last three starts, he looks to be a solid contender in this field. Came close in a handful of graded stakes tries to start 2018, but hasn’t thrown in a competitive effort July when he came 3rd in the Cup Of July stakes. He is making his 26th career start but only his second start since September. We’ll find out if he’s past his prime or if the rest will bring him back to form come Sunday.
13) LUCKY’S STAR – bongo – 14/1
Here’s another entry in this field who faltered last time out in the King Kong Sprint. His start before that he tried going two turns and that didn’t bear any fruit. His body of work before those two starts certainly puts him in line with his opponents. Yet another runner looking to regain previous form in time to take home the money here.
14) LE CLEZIO – fpv – 8/1
This former claimer hasn’t finished out of the money since March of 2017. In September he was sent out against graded stakes company for the first time and won. Came up just short and finished 2nd in the Because I Said So Stakes last time out. One of the few in this contest that looks to be coming in with some momentum.