After an exciting weekend of Breeders' Cup championship races, it comes as little surprise that this Saturday doesn't hold quite as much in the way of important stakes. Still, we'll see a returning 2017 Kentucky Derby prospect, a fan favorite, and a trio of Grade 3 races.
Here's the Weekend Watch:
El Areeb's back in the City of Laurel
Dual Grade 3 winner El Areeb returns in the City of Laurel Stakes this weekend after an eight-month hiatus. The son of Exchange Rate won both the Jerome and Withers at Aqueduct before failing there as the favorite in the Grade 3 Gotham. He was subsequently pulled off the Kentucky Derby trail after sustaining a minor knee injury while training for the Grade 2 Wood Memorial. After receiving some time off, the gray is returning to the track a bigger, stronger version of himself, trainer Cal Lynch says.
Popular Page McKenney seeks another Richard W. Small victory
Fan favorite Page McKenney looks to stretch his win streak to three while making a third appearance in the Richard W. Small Stakes at Laurel. The race itself drew a large field of 12, including grade 3 winners Just Call Kenny, Fear The Cowboy, and Watershed, and stakes winners Securitiz and Fellowship. While far from an easy spot for Page McKenney, the millionaire gelding has done some of his best racing at the Maryland track.
Gorgeous Kitten seeks breakthrough in Commonwealth Turf
Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey’s Gorgeous Kitten has faced his fair share of some of the best turf runners America has to offer. And while he’s come close more than once to breaking through at the graded level, the 3-year old colt still has only two career wins. Corey Lanerie hops aboard for the first time, so maybe he can click with the colt and get more out of him than his predecessors.
Standing in his way is odds-on favorite Mr. Misunderstood. The gelding just won the Jefferson Cup over Churchill’s turf in his last start and is perfect at the Commonwealth Turf distance. His two races prior to the Jefferson Cup were also stakes wins.
Chad Brown has two in the Red Smith
Turf races and Chad Brown go together like fried chicken and biscuits, so it’s no surprise that he would have at least one good shot in a graded stakes turf race. In the case of the Grade 3 Red Smith, Brown sends out morning line favorite Money Multiplier plus morning line fourth choice Call Provision.
Money Multiplier barely ran a lick in the Grade 1 Turf Classic Invitational in his last outing, but he was rank for jockey Javier Castellano, something that likely cost him a better placing, if not the outright win. He did not begin his 2017 campaign until the very end of July. He won his comeback in the Grade 2 Monmouth before dropping the Grade 1 Sword Dancer by a half length. He stands tall, but his stablemate looks to have a say, too.
Call Provision owns the “local runner” advantage, racing primarily in New York. He’s 3-for-3 over Aqueduct’s turf but has not raced there yet this year. He is also 4: 3-1-0 at the Red Smith distance of 1 3/8 miles. He does not have nearly the résumé as some of the others in here, but he enters this spot in very good form. At 5-1, he definitely presents a better opportunity than Money Multiplier who will likely drop to odds lower than his projected 5-2.
Run Away looms large in Bob Hope
The Grade 3 Bob Hope for 2-year olds at Del Mar drew a field of just six. Many of the best juveniles obviously just ran in the Breeders’ Cup races, but Run Away looks like he could be a strong sprinter. The Kaleem Shah-owned colt has already won the Santa Anita Juvenile, Grade 2 Best Pal, and the Barretts Juvenile while running third in the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity. All four of those races were at seven furlongs or less; the Bob Hope is contested at 7/8 of a mile as well.
While Run Away looks like a potential lock, Mourinho and Beautiful Shot appear strong, too. The duo both exit the Speak Easy Stakes at Santa Anita, a race in which Beautiful Shot bested Mourinho by 1 1/4 lengths. While that gave Beautiful Shot an unblemished record, it is Mourinho’s run style that appears to be better suited for Del Mar. The son of Super Saver is a front-runner while Beautiful Shot comes from off the pace.