On Sunday, the graded stakes action for 2-year-old colts moves north of the border to Woodbine for the $400,000 Summer Stakes (G1). The winner of the one mile turf event earns a trip to Del Mar for the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1).
The Summer Stakes is only one of two domestic challenges for the Juvenile Turf, the other is the Bourbon Stakes on Oct. 10 at Keeneland.
The last colt to pull off the Summer Stakes/Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf double was Puck in 2010; however, Untamed Domain (2017) and Good Samaritan (2016) finished second and third respectively. Four colts placed fourth in the Juvenile Turf, the last was Decorated Invader in 2019.
The Summer drew nine colts and geldings. Billed as race nine on a 11-race card, post time is 5:39 p.m. EDT with firm turf.
A four-time winner of the Summer Stakes, Casse trained last year’s winner Gretzky the Great, who earned Canada’s Sovereign Award for Champion 2-Year-Old Colt. This year, Casse conditions four of the nine contenders.
3. Grafton Street (10-1) is an intriguing longshot. He’s bred to go long on turf, yet showed ability sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs over a sloppy track in his debut way back in May. The Casse trainee was four to six wide the entire way, yet made up ground to finish third. Casse later remarked that Grafton Street didn’t handle the mud very well and needed time to recover. Evidently, he snapped out of it, since he recorded two bullet works last month.
Grafton Street is by War Front out of a graded placed turf router who is by Galileo. His dam’s three-quarter sister bore 2015 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf hero Hit It A Bomb, Group 1 winner Brave Anna, plus stakes placed runners Border Town and Threeandfourpence, all sired by War Front. Win contender.
4. Albahr (7-2) The Charlie Appleby runner is undefeated in three of four starts, including a 1 3/4 victory in the one-mile E.B.F. Stonehenge Stakes over a good course in his last start. The son of Dubawi (GB) pressed the pace, in the mile race, then as the pacesetter tired, dueled on the lead, bumping with a rival and drifting out. Albahr found a little extra and surged forward near the wire. Flashy veteran jock Frankie Dettori is in town to ride.
Although Appleby is seeking his first Summer victory, he won the fillies’ counterpart, the Natalma (G1), in 2018 with La Pelosa (IRE). Win contender.
9. Ready for the Lady (20-1) raced wide in his sprint debut over Woodbine’s main track. At the end, he made up ground, closing on Souper Legacy, but ran out of real estate. The Roger Attfield trainee flashed late speed, and Ready for the Lady should improve with the surface switch and distance.
Attfield conditioned last year’s Natalma winner and Sovereign champ Lady Speightspeare, who is out of a half-sister to Ready for the Lady. This family includes Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf heroine Perfect Shirl and Grade 1 winner and sire Shakespeare. Live longshot.
8. First Empire (5-2) Captured the Soaring Free stakes in front-running style by 1 3/4 lengths, holding off Degree of Risk. The Casse trainee’s speed figures are improving, and he hopes to follow in Gretzky the Great’s hoofprints in using the Soaring Free as a tune-up for the Summer. However, only one pacesetter in the last decade has won the Summer Stakes and First Empire may have company on the front end. Exotics.
1. Dripping Gold (9-2) gets the chance to show how good he is against winners. The well-bred son of Lemon Drop Kid graduated at first asking by 2 1/4 lengths in a 1 1/16 turf event at the Spa.
His speed figures were average, but Dripping Gold is bred for stakes glory. His full sister is multiple Grade 3 turf winner Aurelia’s Bell. This family includes Champions Althea and Covfefe, plus sires Arch and Bayern, Grade 1 winners Acoma, Balletto, and Aldiza, to name a few.
Shug McGaughey rarely ships to Canada, in fact, he’s send four horses in the last three years, and one finished third. Exotics.
6. Degree of Risk (8-1) ducked out at the start of the Soaring Free, and wandered down the stretch like he was in the final stages of a pub crawl to finish 1 3/4 lengths behind First Empire. Had the Eoin Harty trainee managed to keep a straight line, the margin may have been smaller.
A son of Cario Prince, Degree of Risk’s unraced dam is a half-sister to the dam of Grade 1 winner and sire Constitution, and she is also a half-sister to Grade 1-winning sprinter Emcee. Talented, but mentally unstable. Exotics.
In his off-the-turf debut 7. Souper Legacy (15-1) inherited the lead when the pacesetter ran out of oats after setting quick fractions. Degree of Risk was closing, but couldn’t get to this Casse trainee.
Souper Legacy is a member of the same family as recent Del
Mar Futurity (G1) winner Pinehurst, Arkansas Derby (G1) winners Malibu Moon and
Graeme Hall, and Grade 1 winning sprinter Harmony Lodge. However, Souper Legacy’s
speed figures are average. Toss.
Casse’s 2. Luckman (20-1) made up ground in his off-the-turf seven-furlong debut after getting away slow. He made a sustained drive between horses and lost the photo for the win. However, it was a good effort, and Empire Maker’s son should appreciate the extra distance and surface switch. Luckman earned a 73 speed figure, the lowest in the Summer field. Toss.
5. Heat Merchant (15-1) got the job done in his third start sprinting on the main track. His speed figures are average, and multiple graded-winning sprinter and First-crop sire Kobe’s Back has no winners from four turf starters. Toss.
Only one pacesetter has won the Summer Stakes in the last decade. Pressers within two lengths of the lead, and one run closers prevail.
Favorites have won half of the time.
First Empire has the class to win the Summer, but his stablemate Grafton Street has my attention. He hated the slop in his debut, but still closed for third place. Imagine what he’ll do on a surface that he loves. Plus, morning line odds of 15-1 put him at the top of the list.
3. Grafton Street (10-1)
4. Albahr (7-2)
8. First Empire (5-2)
9. Ready for the Lady (20-1)