MATCH Series In Focus: G3 Salvator Mile
Page McKenney. Photo by Laurie Asseo.
by Frank Vespe
Saturday’s Grade 3 Salvator Mile is the fifth race in this year’s Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championships (MATCH) Series, and it is also the first MATCH race in the three-and-up males going long division.
The Salvator Mile, along with the featured Grade 2 Monmouth Stakes, anchors a Monmouth Park card with four stakes.
GRADE 3 SALVATOR MILE
Race particulars: Race 11 (5:58 p.m. EDT), $100,000 purse for three-year-olds and upward, 1 mile
- Papa Zulu (20-1): Notwithstanding last out allowance score, this veteran hasn’t been quite the same horse since eight-month break that concluded last October… One of six from that win took their next start… Likely to have plenty of work to do in the latter stages here… Trainer Rubley at nine percent for the year…
- Shaft of Light (3-1): Ignore trainer Jorge Navarro at your peril: he’s 11-for-23 at Monmouth this year and hitting at 27 percent overall in 2018… Speedy sort took the Russell Road easily last out at 3-10 odds… Navarro and jockey Ferrer have a preposterous 46 percent strike rate together of late… Likes the track and likes the trip and figures to be the one they’ll have to catch
- Sunny Ridge (5-2): Jersey-bred would reach $1 million mark with a win here and might just sit the kind of trip that could get it done… Perfectly useful return to the races last out when making first start in 10 months, as he finished a good second in a pretty salty allowance that included multiple G3 winner Timeline… Looks likely to sit off top pair and try to pounce late under Paco Lopez, and all systems look to be go…
- Chip Leader (3-1): Controlled the pace through sensible splits last out in a good try in the G3 Ben Ali before ceding the lead late and settling for second… None of five to run back from that one has won, though, and winner Rated R Superstar was up the track in the Pimlico Special last weekend… Tough to ignore a Pletcher trainee with Jose Ortiz up, but note that this guy is 0-for-4 in his career on the main track and figures to be up against it trying to outsprint Shaft of Light for the early advantage…
- Indian Guide (15-1): Maybe he’ll move forward off the last-out win, though that was against optional a-other-than types, so this represents a stern class test… First off the claim for trainer Serey, who’s been scuffling thus far in 2018… Likely to need a career-best performance to win here, which seems like a heavy lift at age 7…
- Page McKenney (7-2): Popular gelding, a former claimer-turned-millionaire, gets reunited with regular local pilot Karamanos here, a coupling that’s produced plenty of wins in recent years… Had a win in three starts during Florida sojourn and was a credible fourth in G2 Hardacre Mile, and two who finished behind him that day returned with stakes wins, including Irish War Cry’s romp in the G3 Pimlico Special… Figures to be sitting in fourth or fifth early and looking to mow down the speed types late… Oddly enough, he’s 0-for-5 at the trip, but given that he owns wins going longer and shorter (including, in the latter category, the 7-furlong, G3 General George), probably best not to sweat that too much…
- Great Stuff (9-2): Closing sprinter might be a little bit closer to the early action on the stretch out, his first two-turn try since early 2016… David Jacobson trainee certainly fits with these on best… Wheeling back on short rest, having run just two weeks ago, and two weeks before that and three before that, making this his fourth start in seven weeks, including a tilt in the G1 Carter
- #3 Sunny Ridge (5-2) — Useful return plus right trip here adds up to racing’s newest millionaire
- #2 Shaft of Light (3-1) — Speed of the speed figures to take ’em as far as he can
- #7 Great Stuff (9-2) — Adds local stalwart Jersey Joe Bravo in the irons, and added ground increases chance of return to best form
- #6 Page McKenney (7-2) — One of these days Father Time will catch up with Page McKenney, but we don’t think it’s quite yet…