Among the many major races being run Saturday in New York is the Nutcracker, a seven furlong sprint for fillies and mares. Of course the big race of the day is the Travelers but the card is packed with grade one races. Interestingly there has been some rain in the state and the track for this prestigious day is labeled as good. On a personal level the Nutcracker is my favorite race of the day as it attracts some of the best sprinting females in the game. It is run at the same distance as the Breeders’ Bowl Filly & Mare Sprint and can propel the winner into division leadership. It also helps that in 2012 I had a filly win this race, her first grade one. Those are always good things to remember. So after all that lets take a look at the field.
#1 Slewpy’s Town 14/1
Slewpy’s Town is a four year old scratchbred filly by Speightstown x Seattle Slew x Deputy Minister. She is one of three fillies in the field who are looking for their first stakes win in this spot. On top of that Slewpy’s Town is looking for her first win in over a year. In the past ten months she has finished second in two grade two races, most recently the seven furlong Bed of Flowers over this track. She ran a 107 speed in that spot which she will have to better to win in this spot. She’s never been on an off track before but her pedigree suggests that it should be no problem.
#2 Figawi 31/1
Figawi is the only three year old filly in the race but she’s got some good class. She’s a daughter of Carpe Diem out of a Speightsown x Alydar mare. She’s a half sister to grade one winner Musburger by Tonalist who just won the six furlong Binger Handicap in July with a 113 speed. Figwawi has never been off the board in seven career starts, although she has never tried an off track before. Her best race was her most recent start where she finished a fast closing second in the Grade Three Azalea Special at six furlongs. She only lost that race by one quarter lengths and ran a 105 speed while doing it. This is the time of year where three year olds can step up in a big way against their elder competition and this filly deserves a strong look, especially at the odds. She’s been running in shorter races lately, her Azalea start broke a three race win streak where all her starts were at six and one half furlongs. With her late running style and extra half furlong should be welcome.
#3 Fractured Bones 11/1
Fractured Bones enters off a big win on a good racetrack (her only try on one). She won a listed stakes race with a 112 speed, a career best while going six and one half furlongs. Overall she’s got a great record of eight wins and seven seconds from eighteen starts, including eight in the money finishes on the dirt. She’s a four year old daughter of Daredevil out of a Fusaichi Pegasus x Storm Cat mare. She’s a half sister to two other stakes winners. She comes from the family of grade one winner Arkansas Traveler, through his daughter Risk of Ruin who was a stakes winner and graded placed. Interestingly most of her family have excelled routing, especially going long on the turf and Fractured Bones has never tried turf or a route. But she is rolling in the sprint races so perhaps there is no reason to try. This is her graded stakes debut and it’s a tough spot but her off track win was very impressive and many others in the field are handling it for the first time.
#4 Unfortunate Events 20/1
Unfortunate Events is a four year old scratchbred daughter of Dubawi x Danehill x Roberto. With that pedigree you might think she would be running in long distance turf races and for much of her career she tried that unsuccessfully. Three starts back Unfortunate Events was switched to sprints, all on the dirt and she has reeled off three straight impressive victories. All three runs came at seven furlongs and her speeds increased with each start – going from a 100 in an allowance to a 104 and then and impressive 111 while winning the Grade Two Gleaming Invitational. Can she extend her win streak to four in a row and get that grade one badge? Possibly. Although she’s never been on an off track before her experience on the grass may be of value handling the softer going. She’s a great example of trying the unusual in the game, even when pedigree points in a different direction.
#5 Fade Back to Black 8/1
Fade Back to Black is our first grade one winner in the field. She’s a four year old daughter of Tapit out of the stakes winning Deputy Minister x Storm Cat mare Deputy Cat. She’s a half sister to champion and grade one winner Buzzing Quality by Quality Road, as well as grade two winner and millionaire What Ever Ya Like, by Union Rags. Back in 2017 a three year old Buzzing Quality won the seven furlong Grade One Prince’s Knight Stakes which is another race being run on this card. He followed that up with a win in the Breeders’ Bowl Sprint to secure his championship. Fade Back to Black earned her grade one stripes in the seven furlong Dell Computer Debutante back in her two year old season. Since then she has only won one graded race and only one race in the past year. Her last two starts have come in grade one races and she ran fourth both times. She was unplaced in her only off track start. This may be a tough spot for her to turn around her form in.
#6 K’s Yekuana 9/2
Our favorite today is the six year old K’s Yekuana, a daughter of Giant’s Causeway out of a Distorted Humor x Awesome Again mare. She is the only foal from her dam who won fourteen races. Second dam K’s Kuriara was a grade one winner going long on the dirt. Prior to 2019 K’s Yekuana had never won a stakes race but this year in three starts she has won two grade two races from three starts, as well as finishing second in a grade three back in December (her graded debut). Her two wins saw her run 113 and 112 speeds although her third race resulted in a thirteenth place finish in a grade one where she ran a 101. Interestingly she has two wins on off tracks. Both came in seven furlong allowance races back in 2018 and while her speeds weren’t as good as her recent ones they were only allowance races and the feeling here is that she could have run faster against better competition. She also wasn’t quite the mare she is now and she is a deserving favorite in this field.
#7 Lamon Bay 5/1
Second choice Lamon Bay enters running on a five race win streak. She’s a four year old daughter of Muharrar out of the grade two winning Pierro x Awesome Again mare Battle of Antimonan. Battle of Antimonan won her grade two going seven furlongs. Interestingly although she had a 4-0-0-1 record on off tracks she ran her three fastest speeds on the off going, including a striking 115. Second dam Again Withthe Gold was a stakes winning sprinter who also excelled on off tracks. She produced three graded winners and two other stakes winners, some of whom have also done well on the off going (others have never tried it). This will be Lamon Bay’s first start on the off going but her pedigree certainly bodes well for her. In her five race win streak she has won the Grade One Humane Distaff at seven furlongs and the Grade Three Spur of the Moment at six. Three of her last four speeds have been 113 or 114 which puts her right in the mix here.
#8 Powerfully Dynamic 8/1
Powerfully Dynamic is a four year old who really blossomed in the fall of last year. She ran up a three race win streak winning a listed a grade two and the Grade One Everclear Handicap in her four year old debut. That race was in January and she was given time off until May’s Grade One Humane Distaff where she ran tenth. She followed that up with an eighth place finish in a six furlong grade one. She’s a daughter of More Than Ready out of the stakes winning Danzig x Secretariat mare Hi Jinx. She’s a half sister to two stakes winners but is her dam’s first graded winner. This is a tough spot for her to rebound in. Her earlier form would make her a dangerous threat but recently she just hasn’t seemed the same horse. She’s never run on an off track before.
#9 White Wisp 8/1
White Wisp is the returning champion of this race. It was one of her wins that propelled her to Champion Female Dirt Sprinter of 2018. This year she has only made four starts. She was twice second, once in a listed and again in the Grade One Humane Distaff behind Lamon Bay. She ran a 111 speed that day and then was given two months off. She returned in a hot race on July 6th which she won easily. Her only try on an off track was an interesting one. In her second start, the three year White Wisp ran against older mares in just her second start and finished second by a half length. She’s a five year old daughter of Tapit x A.P. Indy x Kingmambo. It just goes to show that close inbreeding can be beneficial int the game.
#10 Tango N Twist 14/1
Tango N Twist is a four year old scratchbred daughter of Speightstown x Danzig x War Front (another with interesting inbreeding). She’s a former claimer who was picked up for $75,000 by her current connections. Since then she has won three races and finished second in three others. Her most recent race was her best, a second in the Grade Two Delta Chau Shi Special at seven furlongs. She ran a 108 speed that day which is her current career best. If she continues to improve in this spot she could get her first stakes win but that’s a big if. She’s never run on an off track before but again, the pedigree suggests she could handle it.
#11 Malibu Vixen 8/1
Malibu Vixen is a four year old daughter of Malibu Moon out of the stakes winning Deputy Minister x Danzig mare Three D FX. Three D FX has been a prolific producer. From ten foals to race, including a two year old of 2019, she has produced another grade one winner in Three D FX IV and four other stakes winners, three of whom are graded placed. Malibu Vixen has won her last two races, the six and one half furlong Grade Two Vagabond Handicap and the six furlong Grade One Princess Looney. Both races saw her run 110 speeds. She’s never gone over an off track before and her female line has mixed signals as to whether she will like it but Malibu Moon is a strong off track influence.
#12 Saint Dani 16/1
Saint Dani is the last of our three runners who is looking for her first stakes victory in this spot. She’s a six year old daughter of Midnight Lute out of a Saint Ballado x Northern Dancer mare. She’s a full sister to a grade three winner who did almost all of his running in dirt sprints. Interestingly Saint Dani enters off an allowance win at a mile which was preceded by a third place effort going a mile and a sixteenth on the poly track. She’s made two starts on an off track with one third place finish. It’s hard to make a case for this mare although her best speed did come going seven furlongs in an allowance earlier this year.
#13 Widowed Again 6/1
Widowed Again has a fabulous pedigree. She’s a four year old daughter of Awesome Again out of the grade one winning Speightstown x Pleasant Colony mare Widow’s Colony. She’s the first foal out of this mare who was two for two sprinting but earned her honors going a bit longer. Widowed Again comes in off two very strong efforts. She was second behind Malibu Vixen in the Grade One Princess Looney before running a career best 113 speed while winning a seven and one half furlong listed stakes. She ran that number previously when beaten a head in a grade two as a three year old. She’s never run on an off track but she seems to be on the improve which could make her dangerous here.
Good luck to all!