The Chad Brown trained Big Blue Kitten appears to be the one to beat in Saturday’s $250,000 Red Smith Handicap (G3), the last graded stakes race of the year on turf in New York.
The six-year-old got a late start to his 2014 campaign, winning the restricted Lure in August, which was his first start since running a disappointing eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) last fall at Santa Anita.
He was sent off at 8-1 in the Turf after coming into the race having won the United Nations and Sword Dancer, and then missing making it three Grade 1 victories in a row in a tough nose loss to Little Mike in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational.
The son of Kitten’s Joy comes into the race off a good runner up finish in the Canadian International (G1), beaten ¾ of a length by the Sir Michael Stoute trained Hillstar.
A field of 11 was entered in the Red Smith with 10 likely to go. Trainer Todd Pletcher will saddle Micromanage (8-1) and Unitarian (12-1), but may scratch Red Rifle (10-1).
If Big Blue Kitten is going to get beaten, it could be the lack of pace that does him in. There is not much early speed signed up to go, which could make Micromanage a danger if the colt is sent early. The colt makes just his second career start on turf, beaten a neck last out in a third place finish in the Bowl Game Stakes at Belmont Park over good ground at 1 ¼ miles.
The race goes off as the seventh race on the nine race card with a post time of 3:13 ET. I will have my full card reports for both Del Mar and Aqueduct available on Saturday.
On Wednesday at Aqueduct, we had five winners on top on the nine race card including sweeping the Late Pick 4, with seven recommended exactas. On Thursday, we had three more winners on top and five recommended exactas.
Let’s head out to Aqueduct for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Aqueduct Race 7 The Red Smith Handicap G3 (Post time 3:14 ET)
4 Big Blue Kitten 8-5
5 Micromanage 8-1
8 Legendary 7-2
3 Dynamic Sky 6-1
Analysis: Big Blue Kitten made a good late rally to finish in the runner up spot last out in the Canadian International (G1) at Woodbine, beaten 3/4 of a length for the top spot . The Chad Brown trainee has won just one of four starts this year, taking the restricted Lure at the Spa off a nine-month layoff.
He then ran a game second in the Cliff Hangar (G3) second off the bench and was fourth in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (G1). The winner of that race was Main Sequence, who returned to win the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1).
He owns four straight triple digit Beyers and he won the United Nations (G1) last year at today’s 1 3/8 mile distance. The only question marks are whether he sees enough pace in front of him and his likely light price.
Micromanage made his turf debut last out in the Bowl game where he set the early fractions and was caught late, beaten a neck and a head in a third place finish at 1 1/4 miles. There is not much speed in here and this guy could have things pretty easy up front.
The Todd Pletcher trainee is bred to like turf, out of a Flying Paster mare that has dropped five turf winners including stakes winner Indescribable ($476,159).
Legendary is coming off a sharp win in the Knickerbocker (G3) last out at Belmont Park over yielding footing and he earned a career top speed fig in the effort. The gelding tracked the early pace, took over heading for home and finished up well to win by 1 1/2 lengths.
The gelding handled firm ground as well, two back winning the Japan Racing at Laurel Park. The gelding has won twice at 1 1/4 miles and looks sharp enough to handle the extra ground here. He should get a good trip sitting just off the pace.
WIN: #4 to win at 8-5 or better.
EX: 4,5 / 3,4,5,8
TRI: 4,5 / 3,4,5,8 / 2,3,4,5,8
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