Rain is in the forecast for the Middle Jewel Stakes in Maryland on Saturday, and the sloppy track will pose a challenge for handicapping since the vast majority of these horses have never run over a wet surface. The Bluegrass Derby winner, GIANT’S KASH, is in great form and looks tough to beat here. He’ll have plenty of new competition, as only two horses come to Maryland from the Derby:
RETURNING DERBY HORSES:
(1) GIANT’S KASH (owner kashbarn3, 5/1) draws the rail to continue his Sim Triple Crown quest. He comes off a decisive victory in the Bluegrass Derby by nearly three lengths. The colt has lost just one race in his career, and that was still an excellent second-place finish in the Florida Derby. He’s by Giant’s Causeway and out of KASH O’WAR, who is a G1 winner. He gets his eighth different jockey in eight starts, with Japan-based K Ledwith getting the leg up here. That is a bit surprising, but he has been great despite the changing jockeys. With almost no other Derby horses in this field, he’ll have to face mostly new competition. He looks sharp, and should easily hit the board if stays sharp. If he’s still in top form and doesn’t mind the slop, there’s a good chance he goes to New York searching for a Triple Crown.
(2) BIG WONG (owner azul25, 10/1) will look to bounce back after a disappointing Derby performance. After starting off his career 4 for 4, he went on to find success on the Louisiana path to the Derby, handily winning the Grade III Risen Star and the Grade I All Saints Derby, which was his ticket into the first Saturday in May. The typical frontrunner could not get up to the front early, and faded to finish 13th. Spain-based jockey M Zeus will get the mount here, who was on board for his All Saints Derby victory.
(3) SCHUMERSHUTDOWN TB (owner rgangfarms, 11/1) comes into this race out of the Grade II Heat Less Stakes in Kentucky last month. This was after having solid finishes on the Derby trail (third in both the Grade II Fountain of Ute and the Grade I All Saints Derby). That last performance was a bit of a surprise, as he was the second choice in that race. He’ll be stretching out a furlong in this race, which may help him out somewhat in this spot. Even so, I think I’ll wait and see on this colt and see how he fares here.
(4) REALITY SUICIDE (owner fairhaven, 11/1) has followed a fairly similar path as SCHUMERSHUTDOWN TB, having finished competitively in a Derby prep race – this time the Arkansas Juvenile, where he finished third. He then traveled to New York for the Grade II Captain Hook on Derby day two weeks ago. He fired way too late in that race, and could only move from 12th to 8th in the stretch. The son of Arrogate will be looking to come from the back of the pack, and given the copious amounts of early speed in this field, he has an outside chance.
(5) SERVE IN HONOR (owner revnhusker, 14/1) is one of the few in the field that is coming into the Middle Jewel off a win. He found his best stride on a good track last time out in Brazil for the Group III Chief Snow Handicap. He had a career-best SP number of 105 in that race, which is the best SP number in this field on a wet track. After wiring that field, he’ll try to avoid the same fate his father Nyquist had when running in the Preakness…fading after a blistering early pace. I don’t think this colt will mind the slop, and certainly could be a factor at a nice price.
(6) K’S GOLDEN BOY (owner kronus, 11/1) started off his career overseas, beginning on the South Africa circuit and then moving to the Italian circuit. He has hit the board in each of this seven starts, except for his first race. The recent success has been capped off by a second-place finish in an ungraded stakes race and a close third in the Grade I Corkscrew Stakes last month in his first start here in the States. He threw up an SP number of 109 in that race, and jockey SL Ledwith gets the mount again here. I don’t love him to win here, but he’s a horse to use underneath.
(7) LEGACY OF EVIL (owner fairhaven1, 8/1) has already made four starts in graded stakes races, winning the Grade III Good Cow down in Florida earlier in the year. Since that race, he has not been quite the same, fading to finish fifth in the All Saints Derby and then third in the Grade III Barbara Walters Special a few weeks back. Jockey L Radzinski will get the ride, although that has not worked for LEGACY OF EVIL in the past. His only two finishes off the board were with L Radzinski up, so you have to question whether the result will be much different here.
(8) GOLD ZONE (owner spiderman1, 12/1) took two stabs at Derby preps after winning two straight Grade III races, but could not capture the form in either of those preps. He finished a solid fourth in the All Saints Derby, while finishing seventh in the Arkansas Juvenile. The son of Awesome Again will get a new jockey, T Ace, in this race. All of the early speed in this race doesn’t seem to bode well for his chances given the amount of early speed in here. He’ll need to recapture the form he had at the beginning of the year to have a chance.
(9) EDINBURGH CASTLE (owner agk04, 15/1) got his start on the turf, which is where he made his first six starts. He had varying amounts of success on the turf before making his first start of 2019 on the dirt. He won that allowance race by open lengths, and had a nice follow-up race in the Group II Moises Alou Cap in early March. He then traveled to Dubai for the Sand Castle Derby late in March, where he charged late to finish fourth, but ran out of time. The top three in that race all went to Kentucky, but all struggled in the race. That doesn’t bode well for his chances against this group.
(10) AMERICAN STORM CAT (owner ddkstables30, 9/1) just ran an SP number of 111 last time out in the Grade II Heat Less Stakes, leading wire to wire. This was a good effort following two off-the-board finishes in Grade III races earlier in the year. Kentucky-based D Givins gets the mount here for the first time since finishing second in an open allowance race back in October. He’s one of many speed horses in here, but if he can run close to his last race, he could be one of the biggest threats to GIANT’S KASH.
(11) OUTBACK CALDRON (owner outback2, 12/1) is one of the few horses here that has wet track experience, winning an allowance race last September on a sloppy track. Following that, he did well in a pair of ungraded stakes races before fading badly from the lead to finish 10th in the Grade II Fountain of Ute. His last race was a nice bounceback, finishing second in the Grade I Wooden Indian. That race is interesting, and his wet track win is another tick in the positive column. He’ll have a chance at a decent price.
(12) BLIZZACK (owner pointblank4, 17/1) had a good start to his career, including a second-place effort on a sloppy track last summer in an allowance race. His form has been noticeably more inconsistent since starting to run against graded stakes company. He has the old “good race, bad race” form going on, and if you believe in that, this will be a good race following a tenth-place finish in the Grade I Corkscrew Stakes last time out. The son of Cairo Prince will go off as the longest shot on the board, and will face an uphill battle against this group.
(13) AMERICAN DANE (owner deyoto, 7/1) adds a level of intrigue to this race. The lone filly in this race has hit the board in 8 of 9 career starts, including a victory against the boys last year in an owner-restricted allowance race. Following that win, she moved his way up through stakes competition, culminating in a good win in the Iool Oaks back in March. She then rallied from the back of the field to finish a close second in the Bluegrass Derby. Despite the slop, her running style of flying from the back could work to her advantage if she has clear road. A filly you definitely want to include on tickets. Jockey GD Mate should be an upgrade here.
(14) TINIAN (owner buffalosteve2, 12/1) rounds out the field on the outside, fresh off a fourth-place finish in the Grade I Wooden Indian last time out. Before that, he had a good victory in the Grade III Rebel Yell down in Arkansas. The pedigree on this colt is loaded – Uncle Mo x Unbridled x Awesome Again. Despite finishing off the board last time out, this is the kind of horse that can be sneaky in a spot like this. He’ll be off the pace, and should benefit from the stretchout. He’ll be a candidate here.
(1) GIANT’S KASH, 5/1 – While I think there are others in here that can beat him, I don’t love any of them enough to pick them. If he can handle the slop, he looks tough to beat.
(14) TINIAN, 12/1 – Has quietly been putting together good races of late, and the stretchout should help this well-bred son of Uncle Mo.
(13) AMERICAN DANE, 7/1 – Seems like she has what it takes to be competitive against this group. The daughter of American Pharoah looks very talented.
(5) SERVE IN HONOR, 14/1 – Fresh off a wet track win, I’m not sure if he can be competitive at this level, but I’ll take a shot at this price.
Good luck to all!