Midlantic runners on Belmont Saturday
Dig Deep won Robert Hilton Memorial. Photo by The Racing Biz.
by Frank Vespe
Your guide to Midlantic runners in Belmont Park graded stakes on Belmont Stakes day:
$700,000 Grade 1 Acorn Stakes (3yo fillies, 1 mile)
- Maryland-bred Cathryn Sophia (6-5) figures to be a solid favorite in this six-horse field. The daughter of Street Boss, bred by Bob Manfuso, won the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks last out — defeating two of her rivals here — and now owns three graded victories and a glittering 6-5-0-1 record, with $949,720 in earnings. The John Servis trainee will have Javier Castellano in the irons for the fourth straight race.
$300,000 Grade 3 Jaipur Stakes (4yo and up, 6 furlongs turf)
- New Jersey-bred Green Gratto (30-1) caught the wave late in ’15, running off four consecutive Beyers between 97 and 107 while winning a couple of stakes, including the Grade 3 Fall Highweight. But he hasn’t shown much since, losing five straight, and here switches to the turf, on which he is unplaced in two previous tries. The Here’s Zealous gelding, bred by Kaz Hill Farm and trained by Gaston Grant, will have Kendrick Carmouche in the irons.
- Take Cover (12-1) logged an upset that was much more surprising than the $11 win mutuel would suggest, jumping from a first allowance win to overcome seasoned hard hitters Ben’s Cat and Spring to the Sky in the Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup last weekend, but this sure seems like a lot to ask. Take Cover, trained at New Jersey’s Colts Neck Stables by Alan Goldberg, will have Julien Leparoux aboard.
$500,000 Grade 2 Woody Stephens Stakes (3yo, 7 furlongs)
- Trainer Jorge Navarro has been conditioning Sharp Azteca (7-2) at Monmouth Park since his impressive win in the G3 Pat Day Mile on Derby Day. The son of Freud has won three straight, all by open lengths, and will have Joe Bravo in the irons.
- Another runner trained by Alan Goldberg for Colts Neck shows up in this event in the form of Dig Deep (8-1), who impressed in winning Charles Town’s Robert Hilton Memorial. The son of Candy Ride has won two of four and will again have Javier Castellano up.
- Pennsylvania-bred Tom’s Ready (12-1) found the water a bit too deep last out in the Kentucky Derby, finishing twelfth, and still has just a single win in 12 starts to his credit. The Dallas Stewart trainee, a son of More Than Ready bred by Blackstone Farm, has twice placed in graded events and will have Joel Rosario aboard.
$700,000 Grade 1 Just a Game Stakes (Filles and mares, 4yo and up, 1 mile turf)
- Faufiler (5-1), an Irish-bred son of Galileo, runs for the same connections that piloted Main Sequence to a champion turf horse season, owners Flaxman Holdings and trainer Graham Motion. The five-year-old mare, based at Fair Hill Training Center, has won five times in her career, once in four starts in the U.S. She most recently was a fast-closing second, beaten a half-length, in the G2 Royal Heroine at Santa Anita. Drayden Van Dyke will ride.