Photo: Eclipse Sportswire
Having closed out 2013 with his first stakes victory, Mail looks to stamp himself a serious racehorse for his 4-year-old campaign on Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack when he heads a field of six in the 57th renewal of the $100,000 Stymie at 1 1/8 miles.
Mail, who won the Traskwood overnight stakes on December 27 at the Big A for Mr. and Mrs. William K. Warren, had finished seventh and eighth in his first two career starts before being outfitted with blinkers in August by trainer Chad Brown. The Medaglia d'Oro colt promptly won a one-mile maiden race at Monmouth Park by 6 ¾ lengths and took two of his next three outings in similar front-running style, with his only loss a second in an optional claimer to Long River, who went on to win the Time for a Change and Evening Attire stakes.
"We added blinkers after his first two starts and that seemed to be the key with Mail," said Brown's assistant, Cherie DeVaux. "He seems to like the inner track and has found a running style. The Traskwood suited him; he was the only speed in there so he could relax on the lead. He doesn't necessarily need to be on the lead, but it did suit him well in that race."
Abel Castellano has the call on Mail, who drew post position 3 and is the 2-1 second choice on the morning line behind 9-5 favorite Percussion.
Also in search of back-to-back stakes victories is Shadwell Stable's Farhaan, a five-length winner of the restricted Lord of the Night stakes on December 29. The 5-year-old son of Shadwell's 2006 Belmont Stakes winner, Jazil, Farhaan began his career in England and won his American debut on the turf in August at Saratoga. Subsequently sixth in the Grade 2 Bowling Green Handicap, Farhaan was switched to dirt by rainer Kiaran McLaughlin and he responded with a string of steadily improving performances.
"He's relaxing more, and he likes the inner track for sure," said McLaughlin's assistant, Art Magnuson. "He's trained very well over the last few months. He's won a couple on the grass, but he'd always trained so well on the dirt and run well on the dirt, even though he didn't win. He was running well in tough company. He was a bit keen early in some of his starts; it's all started to come together with him relaxing earlier in a race."
Irad Ortiz, Jr. returns aboard Farhaan, 7-2 on the morning line. The pair will leave from post position 6.
Gourmet Dinner will make his Big A debut in the Stymie, having most recently finished sixth behind Mucho Macho Man in the Florida Sunshine Millions Classic. Now 6, Gourmet Dinner won the Grade 3 Delta Downs Jackpot in 2010 and spent much of last year in the mid-Atlantic, winning an allowance in October at Parx Racing.
"He came out of the Sunshine Millions well and shipped back in good," said trainer Bruce Brown of Gourmet Dinner, who carries the colors of Our Sugar Bear Stable. "He's been training well since, so hopefully he likes the colder climate. He's been training here a long time but he's never run here, so we'll see how he does."
Gourmet Dinner, who drew the rail and is listed at 10-1 on the morning line, will be ridden by Manny Franco.
Also entered in the Stymie are the Todd Pletcher-trained Percussion and Kelly Breen's Jonesy Boy, who were second and third, respectively, behind Long River in the Evening Attire. Completing the field is Don Dulce, making his first start off the $75,000 claim by trainer Mitch Friedman for Blue Stork Stables.
The field for the $100,000 Stymie:
Gourmet Dinner (FL)
B R. Brown
C P. DeCarlo
T A. Pletcher
A Castellano, Jr.
C C. Brown
Don Dulce (KY)
C C. Lopez
M E. Friedman
Jonesy Boy (KY)
C H. Velasquez
K J. Breen
I Ortiz, Jr.
K P. McLaughlin