graded stakes winner Last Gunfighter goes in search of his third
straight stakes victory on Saturday when he takes on a field of 10 in
the Grade 2, $500,000 Suburban Handicap, one of five graded stakes on
the inaugural Stars & Stripes Festival card at Belmont Park.
5-year-old son of First Samurai, Last Gunfighter closed out his 2013
campaign with a solid win in the Grade 3 Hawthorne Gold Cup at the
Suburban distance of 1 ¼ miles and returned this year to nose out Valid
in the 1 1/8-mile Mountainview Handicap in May at Penn National, earning
a 100 Beyer Speed Figure for both efforts.
coming into the race well," said trainer Chad Brown, who also has
entered the late-running New York-bred Zivo in the Suburban. "He's
training well, he was second in the race last year, and he's running a
mile and a quarter on dirt."
starting high weight at 120 pounds, including Javier Castellano, Last
Gunfighter drew post position 5 and was listed as the 7-2 second choice
on the morning line.
at 3-1 on the morning line is Romansh, most recently a game third to
Palace Malice and Goldencents in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap, in
which he earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 108, his third triple-digit
Beyer in his past four starts. Winner of the Grade 3 Discovery Handicap
last year and the Grade 3 Excelsior this year, Romansh will be returning
to 1 ¼ miles for the first time since a fifth in the Grade 1 Travers.
Jose Ortiz rides Romansh, who is owned by Godolphin Stable, from post position 6.
out to 1 ½ miles last time out, Stuart Janney's Norumbega posted a 10-1
upset of the Grade 2 Brooklyn Invitational on June 7, finishing a neck
ahead of favored Micromanage and earning his first stakes win.
were pleased with his race in the Brooklyn and he seems to have done
very well since then," said Norumbega's Hall of Fame trainer, Shug
McGaughey. "I don't know about turning back to a mile and a quarter, but
he seems to be training pretty sharp right now. I think he'll show up
with a good effort."
Norumbega, 6-1 on the morning line, will leave from post position 4 under Joel Rosario.
Todd Pletcher-trained Micromanage has been no worse than third in six
of his past seven starts, including a 4 ¼-length victory over Norumbega
in the Grade 3 Skip Away in March at Gulfstream Park, in which he earned
a career-best 103 Beyer. He then was third as the odds-on choice in the
Drosselmeyer at the Suburban distance prior to his narrow loss in the
last three starts were consistently good, with the Skip Away being the
best," said Pletcher of the 4-year-old son of Medaglia d'Oro. "We felt
based on his pedigree he would improve with age. He's really found his
rhythm and hopefully can continue the course."
Hall of Famer John Velazquez will ride the Repole Stable color-bearer, 9-2 on the morning line, from the rail.
isn't particularly fond of the inside, but with the configuration of
the start [on the turn], getting the rail should be a favorable draw,"
his New York debut will be Prayer for Relief, whose best efforts in
five starts this year have been a second in the Grade 3 Pimlico Special
and a third in the Louisiana Handicap. Most recently, the son of Jump
Start was eighth in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster.
a solid group of horses and I think he fits," said Dale Romans, who
trains Prayer for Relief for Zayat Stables. "Whoever wins will have to
run one of his best races, and if Prayer for Relief does that, I think
he'll be very competitive."
Corey Nakatani and Prayer for Relief, 15-1 on the morning line, will leave from post position 7
out the field are the Argentinian import Ever Rider, fourth in the
Brooklyn; Stormin Monarcho, who comes in off a pair of allowance wins at
Delaware Park; Vyjack, ninth in the Met Mile; Mylute, fourth in the
Stephen Foster, and Moreno, 12th in the Met Mile.