Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey will be hoping for a little bit of racing luck on Saturday when he saddles Stuart Janney III and Phipps Stable's homebred Grade 3 Saranac winner Inspector Lynley in a competitive edition of the Grade 3, $500,000 Hill Prince for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles on the inner turf at Belmont Park.
Inspector Lynley has had his fair share of racing trouble this year, encountering a series of less-than-ideal trips going back to an optional claiming contest in May, where he was closed off in the late stretch to finish sixth. Returning in June, again facing optional claimers, the bay colt was held wide through both turns but kicked late to finish second, a length behind fellow Hill Prince entrant Strike Midnight.
The son of Lemon Drop Kid rejoined stakes company in the Grade 3 Kent on July 16 at Delaware Park, where he was bumped leaving the gate and closed to finish third, 1 ¾ lengths behind Hill Prince rival American Patriot, who went on to finish a close third to Beach Patrol in the Grade 1 Secretariat and fourth in the Grade 2 Commonwealth.
"He got stopped on the inside with Javier [Castellano on May 12] and then he was really wide [on June 3]," said McGaughey. "He was kind of wide at Delaware too. We thought that if we had the trip that the winner had down there that maybe we would've been right there with it. Of course, that horse came back and ran good in the Secretariat."
Even in the Saranac, which he won by a neck over multiple graded stakes winner Camelot Kitten, Inspector Lynley was bottled up through much of the stretch before changing lanes late and finding room on the outside to get by for victory.
"We were very pleased with his race in the Saranac," said McGaughey. "He didn't have all the best of it but when he got him out, he finished really good, and he's trained very well since then. He's always been a horse we've had high hopes for. We're looking forward to running him Saturday."
Installed as the 7-2 second-choice on the morning line, Inspector Lynley will break from post 5 with Joel Rosario aboard.
Gary Barber's Monster Bea will look to play the spoiler as he takes on the East coast competition for California-based trainer Peter Miller. Since transferring to his barn from Mark Casse this summer at Del Mar, the Hat Trick gelding notched a 2 ¼-length victory in the restricted Oceanside on July 15 before posting a pair of fourth-place finishes against graded stakes company, recently finishing a half-length behind Grade 2 Del Mar Derby winner Free Rose on September 4.
"Mark Casse sent him, he really had him ready for the Oceanside," Miller said. "He pretty much came off the plane and won the Oceanside four days later, and then Mr. Barber decided to keep him in California. He's a very nice, hard-knocking, hard-trying horse.
"He's been at San Luis Rey with me and he's been training well," he added. "It's nice and quiet surroundings and he's put some weight on. He's doing well and we thought this was a good chance to run against straight 3-year-olds and Mr. Barber said let's give it a go. I expect him to run big."
Javier Castellano picked up the mount aboard Monster Bea, set to leave from post 7 at 8-1 on the morning line.
Winner of the 2015 Hill Prince with Takeover Target, leading turf trainer Chad Brown will be represented by a trio of contenders in this year's edition in Camelot Kitten, Beach Patrol and Annals of Time.
Ken and Sarah Ramsey's homebred Camelot Kitten posted back-to-back victories in the Grade 2 American Turf and Grade 3 Pennine Ridge this summer and went on to finish fourth in the Grade 1 Belmont Derby in July. The Kitten's Joy colt regrouped with a nose victory in the Grade 2 Hall of Fame on August 5 at Saratoga before his runner-up finish in the Saranac.
Tabbed as the 3-1 favorite on the morning line, Camelot Kitten will have the services of his regular jockey, Irad Ortiz, Jr., as the pair depart from the rail.
Winner of the Secretariat by a head and third in the Belmont Derby this summer, James Covello and Sheep Pond Partners and Head of Plain Partners' Beach Patrol has drawn the outside post 10 with Florent Geroux named to ride.
The lightly raced Annals of Time, who finished second against allowance company on September 3 at Saratoga will be ridden by Hall of Famer John Velazquez.
Rounding out the field are Toronto Cup winner Conquest Daddyo for Conquest Stables and trainer Mark Casse; WinStar Farm's Kent winner American Patriot from the Todd Pletcher barn; Dressed in Hermes, a blanket third in the Del Mar Derby for Sydney Belzberg and trainer Janet Armstrong; Stronach Stable's Berliner for trainer Nicholas Gonzalez and Treadway Racing Stable's Hall of Fame runner-up Strike Midnight from trainer Leah Gyarmati.
Source: NYRA Communications