The $250,000 Remsen Stakes
(G2) on Aqueduct's opening
weekend offers 2-year-olds the
chance to compete at 1 1/8 miles for the first time in a stakes. The top four finishers of each race will earn 10-4-2-1 points toward inclusion in the 2022
In the last decade, colts who placed in the Remsen also affected the Kentucky Derby Superfecta. Mucho Macho Man (2010) finished third in Kentucky, and Frosted (2014), Wicked Strong (2013) and Normandy Invasion (2012) finished fourth. The last colt to pull off the Remsen/ Kentucky Derby double was Thunder Gulch in 1994.
Fast forward to this year, where eight colts will compete in Saturday's eighth race, with a post time of 3:14 PM EST.
After winning his six-furlong debut
at Belmont, Zandon
takes on winners at nine furlongs. The Chad Brown trainee won his initial start
by 1 1/2 lengths in a sharp 1:10.61 after tracking the early pace. This might become a key race because the second through fourth finishers returned to win or
place in their next outing. Zandon recorded a second-to-last bullet five furlongs
move as a Remsen prep. Brown and Jose Ortiz teamed to win the 2014 Remsen with
Leave the Light On. Win contender.
Pedigree: Zandon (Upstart - Memories Prevail, by Creative Cause) has a miler/middle distance pedigree. He is the first foal out of an unraced half-sister to a pair of stakes-winning turf milers, the full sisters Cariba and Cairo Memories. This family produced Grade 3-winning turf milers Hay Dakota and Significant Form plus restricted dirt sprinter Hello Hot Rod, winner of this year's Jimmy Winkfield Stakes.
Mo Donegal got
the job done in his second start when he stretched to 1 1/16 miles at Belmont. Irad
Ortiz Jr. kept him four to five wide the entire way, and although Mo Donegal
looked a little leg weary, he gained ground through the stretch to beat Fromanothamutha
by 1 1/2 lengths. Todd Pletcher won the 2012 Remsen with Overanalyze. Win
Pedigree: Mo Donegal (Uncle Mo - Callingmissbrown, by Pulpit) has middle distance/classic breeding and conformation. His second dam Island Sand is the most accomplished competitor in the family. She's a multiple graded-stakes earner of $1,182,777, including victories in the one-mile Acorn (G1) and 1 1/4 mile Delaware Handicap (G2) and a second-place finish in the Kentucky Oaks.
Who Hoo Thats Me faced winners for the first time in the restricted Sleepy Hollow Stakes over
a sloppy Belmont track. He had a good trip with every chance to run down the
winner, but the Jorge Abreu charge backed off when second-place finisher Overstep
moved out to challenge. Who Hoo Thats Me has a slower maturing pedigree, and
he is still finding his stride. Exotics.
Pedigree: Who Hoo Thats Me (Keen Ice - Calculation, by Hard Spun) is bred to run all day. Keen Ice is infamous for upsetting American Pharoah in the 2015 Travers Stakes (G1); he also won the 1 1/4-mile Suburban (G2). Damsire Hard Spun was best between seven and nine furlongs and placed second in the 2007 Kentucky Derby to Street Sense and that year's Breeders' Cup Classic to Curlin. Who Hoo Thats Me is the first foal out of Calculation. The mare's half-brother Saint Dynaformer is turf stakes-placed at nine furlongs.
After beating Fromanothamutha by three-quarters
Davis returned to finish a distant third in the one-mile Nashua (G3).
The Shug McGaughey trainee held third place on the rail all the way around without
improving in a mediocre effort. Perhaps he can improve with the dreaded
"maiden bounce" out of the way and with first-time blinkers. In the
last five years, McGaughey's juveniles hit the board 35 percent their first time
wearing the hood. The veteran trainer captured the 2013 Remsen with Honor Code,
who earned 2015 Champion Older Male honors. Exotics.
Pedigree: Judge Davis (Distorted Humor - Mylitta, by Sky Mesa) has a sprinter/miler pedigree, and turf may also be an option as the legendary turf sire Kingmambo is his second damsire. Additionally, Judge Davis' dam won her debut over the lawn, and her half-brother Malossol is a Group 3-winning turf miler in Italy. Next Move Handicap (G3) winner Wow Me Free and her son, San Vicente (G2) runner up Treasury Bill are part of the family.
Trainer Robert Reid Jr. captured
the 2018 edition of the Remsen, shipping Maximus Mischief from Parx. This year,
Reid's charge Eloquist
will follow a similar pattern. Eloquist found the winner's circle in his third
start, a one-turn mile maiden special event. Eloquist got a cushy rail trip and
gradually wore down the faltering speed late to win by 1 1/2 lengths in a
methodical, grinder-type move. Nyquist's son posted a second-to-last bullet
five-furlong move for the Remsen. Live long shot.
Pedigree: Eloquist (Nyquist - Our Gal El, by Tapit) is bred to handle middle to classic distances. His unraced dam's half-sister Fifth Avenue won the Fashion Stakes and placed in the Adirondack (G2) at 2. A pair of half-sisters bore stakes winners Imprimis, a multiple graded sprinter, Shoplifted, winner of the Springboard Mile, and multiple Grade 1-placed at seven furlongs.
has a win/lose cycle going on, and he won his last start against optional
claimers at Laurel despite minor trouble in the stretch, where he faced a wall
of horses and had to steady slightly. A small hole opened on the rail in
mid-stretch, and Michael Sanchez pushed Mr Jefferson through. They turned back
a brief challenge to win by 1 1/2 lengths, giving Michael Trombetta his 2,000th victory.
Mr Jefferson has been struggling against lesser at Laurel. Toss.
Pedigree: Mr Jefferson (Constitution - Clockstrucktwelve, by Malibu Moon) has classic breeding and conformation. He has a 4 x 2 inbreeding to A.P. Indy, as Constitution is a great-grandson, and Malibu Moon is a son of the legendary stallion. There's little black type in Mr Jefferson's distaff line, with only two stakes winners in three generations: Never Enough Time, a multiple restricted winning sprinter, and Strike the Moon, a stakes-winning sprinter/miler who placed at the Grade 2 and 3 level.
After finishing a distant third
against optional claimers as a turf miler, Midnight Chrome
hopes to shake up his form with a switch back to dirt. He was a 4 1/2-length
winner on the lawn in his second start, but only one rival returned to hit the
board. Tyler Servis, son of Smarty Jones' trainer John Servis, gave Midnight
Chrome a final bullet gate drill for the Remsen, and Luis Saez takes over the reins.
Midnight Chrome might switch back to front-running style, which will give him the
best chance to hit the board. I'll take the wait-and-see approach. Toss.
Pedigree: Midnight Chrome (California Chrome - Tipsy At Midnight, by Midnight Lute) has excellent leg extension, and although his half-siblings and dam are dirt sprinter/milers, he might handle longer distances against the right crowd with maturity. Midnight Chrome's distaff line comprises sprinter/milers over dirt and turf, including Santa Ysabel Stakes (G3) winner Itty Bitty Pretty and Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf Sprint heroine Stealthediamonds.
is still a maiden after four starts and, although he placed in three of those
starts, he was beaten by Judge Davis and Mo Donegal in his last two starts. The
Raymond Handal charge is a pacesetter and has lost ground in the stretch in
each start. Toss.
Pedigree: Fromanothamutha (Unified - Prevention, by Aptitude) has a miler pedigree. First-crop sire Unified won stakes from seven to nine furlongs. His half-sister Tiz Lately is stakes-placed at 1 mile 70 yards. Although there are minor stakes winners in his family's second generation, the class in his third-generation includes Grade 1 winner Safe Play, dam of Grade 1 winner, and sire Defensive Play.
Favorites have finished second or third in four of the last five editions of the Remsen. Three have won in the last decade; the last was Mohaymen in 2015.
Two pacesetters won, and the most successful running style is pressing the pace within two lengths of the lead. All Remsen winners had two or more previous starts.
The lone speed could be Fromanothamutha, although Midnight Chrome and Mr Jefferson have won as pacesetters. Judge Davis might show early interest with the addition of blinkers.
It is tough to choose between Mo Donegal and Zandon. Both are capable of moving up in their first start against winners. Mo Donegal gets the nod, as he has two starts under his girth, and Zandon, with only one start, returns from a 56-day layoff, so he might get a little leg weary in the stretch.
1. Mo Donegal (8-5)
7. Zandon (5-2)
3. Judge Davis (5-1)
6. Eloquist (12-1)