United Nations Stakes 2019: Odds and analysis

June 19, 2019 04:48pm

Trainer Chad Brown will on Saturday take aim at Monmouth Park’s marquee turf race, the Grade 1, $300,000 United Nations, for the fourth time after victories in the 1 3/8-mile feature last year with Funtastic and in both 2013 and 2015 with Big Blue Kitten.

A field of eight was entered for this year's renewal, with projected morning line odds below by Horse Racing Nation. The United Nations goes as Race 11 of 13 with a listed post time of 5:28 p.m. ET.

1. 
Bigger Picture [ML 3-1 – Badge of Silver – M. Maker/J. Bravo – 40: 13-7-5 - $1,646,635] The 8-year-old gelding keeps on winning while still racing exclusively in graded stakes company. He already has won twice this year in Sam Houston's John B. Connally Turf Cup (G3) in January and then Keeneland's Elkhorn (G2) in April. Bigger Picture will be making his fourth start in the United Nations with a victory in 2017. That score makes him the only horse in the field with a Grade 1 win in America. He runs well on any type of turf condition with a late closing move. The top choice.

2. 
Channel Cat [ML 8-1 – English Channel – T. Pletcher/L. Saez –14: 4-2-2 - $570,792] He ended his 3-year-old campaign with two pace-pressing victories in overnight stakes in 2018. Since returning to the races this year, the going in graded stakes company has been tougher. The Todd Pletcher trainee was fifth in the Manhattan and fourth in the Fort Marcy at Belmont Park against older horses, although he was beaten by only a few lengths in both. Use Underneath.

3. 
Arrocha [ML 10-1 – Pounced – C Brown/A. Gallardo – 12: 4-5-1 - $152,293] A multiple Grade 1 winner in Brazil, Arrocha made his first start in America for the Brown barn in last month's Fort Marcy (G3). He finished eighth on a soft Belmont Park turf course while racing with Lasix for the first time. Arrocha ran well on the wet turf in Brazil and showed much more speed in some of those starts, meaning this 5-year-old is going to have to make significant improvement to be competitive in this Grade 1. Toss.

4. 
Focus Group [ML 5-2 – Kitten’s Joy – C. Brown/J. Ortiz – 13: 5-0-3 - $458,164] Brown has this 5-year-old in the best form of his career after his first graded stakes victory in the Pan American (G2) at Gulfstream Park in March. He followed that win with a sixth-place finish in the Man O’ War (G1) at Belmont. Since then, he has been training at Saratoga in his quest for a Grade 1 score. Vulnerable favorite.

5. 
Catcho En Die [ML 12-1 – Catcher in the Rye – N. Chatterpaul/N. Juarez – 11: 5-1-1 - $302,054] Trainer Naipaul Chatterpaul claimed this now 7-year-old gelding from Bill Mott for $40,000 back in April of 2018. Since then he has tried four Grade 1 stakes and was also the gate to wire winner of the Stars and Stripes (G3) last summer at Arlington Park. After running fourth in the Arlington Million (G1), Catcho En Die was laid up until he was last in his return earlier in the month in the Manhattan (G1) at Belmont Park. Last year, he rebounded from a bad run in the Manhattan to win at Arlington Park. Can he repeat that pattern this summer? I'm not counting on it. Toss.

6. 
Zulu Alpha [ML 4-1 – Street Cry – M. Maker/C. Hill –25: 8-3-5 - $511,374] This Maker trainee got off to a great start in 2019 when he won consecutive graded stakes races at Gulfstream Park. From there he ran third in a Grade 3 at Keeneland and most recently was seventh in the Man O’ War (G1). The 6-year-old now ships to New Jersey from Kentucky for his first ever start at Monmouth Park. Win contender.

7. 
Hunter O’Riley [ML 20-1 – Tiz Wonderful – J. Toner/P. Lopez –21: 4-2-4 - $440,293] The 6-year-old gelding has not won a race since his victory in the Bowling Green (G2) at Saratoga in 2017. All of his subsequent starts have come in graded stakes, and this year the best he has done a fourth in the McKnight (G3) at Gulfstream in January. In most of his starts, he settles at the back of the field and makes one run at the end of the race. This field, however, does not appear to have a lot of early pace to set up a deep-closing move. Toss.

8. 
Monarchs Glen [ML 6-1 – Frankel – W. Mott/J. Lezcano – 13: 5-2-0 - $200,190] This former European runner raced against some of the best turf stars in England. He won five times overseas, including the Group 3 Darley Club Stakes at Newmarket. He joined Mott's barn in the U.S. and, as is the case with many European imports, he has raced with Lasix. In his first start for Mott he had trouble leaving the gate, which is not unusual for Euros making the transition. He last appeared in the Monmouth Stakes (G2) when he rallied late for fourth. He should appreciate the stretch out here. Use underneath.

Summary
: This is a difficult race to handicap. Bigger Picture, who is an 8-year-old, is the only horse in the field who was the winner of his last race. All of the horses seem to be stretching their comfort level in Grade 1 company. In addition, there is no significant early pace, which figures since the field is made up of mostly late runners.

It is hard to ignore any of Brown's runners in a major turf race, but they are likely to be over-bet. Zulu Alpha and Bigger Picture seem to provide the best value as possible United Nations winners.

 

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