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Breeders' Cup 2017

Street Game Must Be Caught in Hall of Fame

Off a scintillating 7 ¼-length victory in the one-mile Grade 3 Hill Prince at Belmont Park, trainer Philip Serpe ventured into the unknown with his swift 3-year-old colt Street Game.


Trying to go a quarter-mile longer July 16 in the Grade 2 Virginia Derby, Street Game set a mildly pressured, moderate pace and opened up turning for home but couldn’t hang on when caught by the closers at the eighth pole. He finished fifth in the race won by Air Support.


With a solid turf work on the Oklahoma turf course under his belt since then, Street Game returns to action Friday at his favorite 1 1/16-mile distance in the 27th running of the Grade 2, $150,000 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame for 3-year-olds at Saratoga Race Course.


Recovered from a fractured clavicle suffered in a fall June 24 at Belmont Park , apprentice jockey Ryan Curatolo regains the mount for Flying Zee Stable on the chestnut son of Street Cry.


“The distance was a question and we also had a change of rider and ended up in a speed duel,” said Serpe of the Virginia Derby effort. “But that’s behind us, and we have another race in front of us. We weren’t 100 percent sure off pedigree if he’d get the mile and a quarter anyway.”


Street Game, the 8-5 favorite on the morning line, enters the Hall of Fame with three wins from seven lifetime starts; the three victories came by a combined 19 lengths.


While Street Game is likely the controlling speed in the field of seven, the race has come up with no shortage of talent.


Trainer Bill Mott will run Paul Pompa Jr. and Golden Goose’s Rustler Hustler, a two-time stakes winner exiting a fourth-place finish in the Jersey Derby in his first start for the Hall of Fame conditioner.


Last summer, while trained by Timothy Hamm, Rustler Hustler, 8-1 on the morning line won the Continental Mile at Monmouth Park , defeating a very strong field that included eventual Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner Pluck.


In October, racing for Richard Dutrow Jr., he won an overnight turf stakes race at the 1 1/16-mile distance at Belmont Park .


In the Jersey Derby on July 31, Rustler Hustler broke slowly and then had a wide trip before finishing fourth, five lengths behind winner Breathless Storm.


The chestnut son of Ecton Park was in steady training at Saratoga before finishing his preparation for the Jersey Derby at Belmont Park .


“He trained well here early on,” Mott said. “I looked for him to run well in New Jersey , but he got left at the gate and was a little rank. He needs to get out with the rest of the field to give himself a chance.”


Chad Brown enters Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey’s Big Blue Kitten on a four-race winning streak including a recent half-length allowance score July 2 at the 1 1/16-mile distance at Belmont Park.


The son of champion turf horse Kitten’s Joy, 4-1 on the morning line, began his career running in $35,000 maiden claiming races in Florida and slowly but surely has climbed the ladder with one victory after another.


“He’s gradually improved, week to week, month to month,” Brown said. “We gave him an opportunity to come out of the claiming ranks, and he took it. We’re proud of him. He never took any huge steps; he gradually improved very slowly. None of his wins are pretty, but he’s got a will to win.”


Sagamore Farm will send out Humble and Hungry, third in the Hill Prince last out and a close-up eighth last fall in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. In all but one of his seven races — he lost his footing at the start of a race at Keeneland — Humble and Hungry has pressed the pace.


“I’m going to add some blinkers on him,” said trainer Ignacio “Nacho” Correas of his runner, who is 5-1 on the morning line. “If you watch his races, he’s always stalking, but when he goes to the quarter pole or three-sixteenths he loses interest, he loses concentration, and then he comes back. We won’t use a full-cup blinker, just little cheaters, but I think that’s what he needs.”


Jose Lezcano will ride Humble and Hungry, the colt’s seventh different jockey in a row.


Benergy, 10-1 and second to multiple graded stakes winner Banned in the Grade 3 Jefferson Cup at Churchill Downs, will run for Zayat Stables and trainer Dale Romans.


The gray or roan son of Tapit finished a dull ninth in the Virginia Derby, losing ground on the turns. Romans said he is willing to forgive the performance.


“We were disappointed in the last race and can’t figure out why he didn’t run very well,” Romans said. “We’re going to try to redeem ourselves in the Hall of Fame. It wasn’t the distance. We don’t know what happened.”


Team Valor International’s Crimson China, 7-2, winner of the Lamplighter in May at Monmouth Park and seventh in the Virginia Derby, is entered to run as is Courtland Farms’ Perregaux, 15-1, third in the Jefferson Cup.


The field for the Grade 2 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame :








Benergy (KY)

K J Desormeaux


D L Romans



Rustler Hustler (PA)

J Castellano


W I Mott



Crimson China (KY)

R Maragh


H G Motion



Perregaux (KY)

J R Leparoux


N J Howard



Humble and Hungry (KY)

J Lezcano


I Correas, IV



Big Blue Kitten (KY)

J R Velazquez


C C Brown



Street Game (NY)

R Curatolo


P M Serpe





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