Klaravich Stables’ multiple graded stakes-placed Value Proposition will return to sprinting for the first time since November when he contests Saturday’s $100,000 Elusive Quality for 4-year-olds and upward going seven furlongs over the Widener turf course at Belmont Park.
Trained by Chad Brown, Value Proposition returns three weeks after finishing a pacesetting third in the $100,000 Danger’s Hour on April 9 at Aqueduct Racetrack. The son of Dansili started the year off with a second-place finish to Clear Vision in the Grade 3 Tropical Turf going one mile on January 8 at Gulfstream Park. The 6-year-old ridgling settled in fourth behind the pace and rallied down the stretch to earn his third career graded placing.
The dark bay switched tactics in his next outing, taking command of the field of seven in the one-mile Danger’s Hour and setting a moderate tempo under Manny Franco. Value Proposition weakened and lost his advantage at the top of the lane but kept on well to secure show honors by 1 3/4 lengths over multiple stakes winner and returning rival Therapist.
Brown said Value Proposition fares better with a fast pace to sit off.
“The way the race shaped up, I urged Manny to go ahead and take the lead if nobody else wanted it,” said Brown of the Danger’s Hour effort. “I didn’t want to be wired off a slow pace and he’s not effective off a slow pace. We tried it, but it didn’t really work out for him. We’ll regroup and with cutting him back, we’ll probably get him off the pace again.”
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The Great Britain-bred Value Proposition has held competitive form throughout his four seasons of racing, graduating on debut in April 2019 before earning two optional claiming victories and his first graded placing with a third in the 2020 Grade 3 Poker.
He enjoyed a prominent year in 2021, earning another graded placing with a runner-up finish to Rinaldi in the Grade 3 Forbidden Apple at Saratoga Race Course en route to his two stakes victories. Value Proposition was a 2 3/4-length winner of both the Red Bank at Monmouth Park and Oyster Bay at Belmont Park before finishing off his 5-year-old campaign with a fifth in the Aqueduct Turf Sprint Championship.
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Out of the Diktat mare Dash To The Front, Value Proposition has won at distances ranging from seven furlongs to 1 1/16 miles and boasts a record of 15-6-2-4 with earnings of $452,373.
Franco retains the mount from post 6.
Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse will send out recent allowance winner Proven Strategies in his first start at seven furlongs since a third-place effort in the Grade 2 Connaught Cup at Woodbine in July.
Owned by Leonard C. Green, Jonathan I. Green and Empire Racing Club, the seasoned gelding ended a six-race losing streak dating back to January 2021, narrowly taking a one-mile optional claimer by a half-length on March 13 at Gulfstream Park and earning a career-best 93 Beyer Speed Figure.
“He’s doing great,” Casse said. “He ran well and we just shipped him up from South Florida. This race is a little shorter, so we don’t know how he’ll handle that, but he’s done well sprinting on the turf. He’s a solid performer. Obviously, it’s a step up in class and it’s not going to be easy. I actually think he really likes this distance.”
The son of Sky Mesa showed good form despite his trouble finding the winner’s circle last year, posting two stakes placings when he was defeated just 2 1/2 lengths in the Connaught Cup and 2 3/4 lengths to returning foe Value Proposition in the Red Bank. The 5-year-old also boasts another graded placing on his resume with a runner-up effort to Decorated Invader in the 2020 Pennine Ridge going one mile at Belmont.
Dylan Davis will ride Proven Strategies for the first time from post 3.
Snapper Sinclair Returns from Dubai
The veteran Snapper Sinclair will make his first start since returning stateside from a trip to Meydan Racecourse in Dubai where he finished a distant 10th in the Grade 2 Godolphin Mile on March 26.
Trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen and owned by Bloom Racing Stable, the 7-year-old City Zip bay has raced at 13 different racetracks across five states and has made the journey to Meydan twice. The son of City Zip has earned five graded stakes placings, including a second in the 2020 Grade 1 Cigar Mile Handicap at Aqueduct.
Snapper Sinclair has made a majority of his 38 starts over dirt, owning a 2-for-11 turf record with both victories over the lawn coming at the stakes level. He was last seen in the winner’s circle in September 2021 after he went gate-to-wire in the restricted TVG going one mile and 70 yards at Kentucky Downs.
A $180,000 purchase at the 2017 Ocala Breeders’ Spring Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training, Snapper Sinclair boasts field-high earnings of $1,857,042 and a record of 38-7-9-4.
Trevor McCarthy picks up the mount from post 7.
The consistent New York-bred Big Package will make his seasonal debut for trainer David Donk, who co-owns the gelding with Sean Carney. A son of Big Brown, Big Package enters off a five-month layoff after finishing sixth in the Aqueduct Turf Sprint Championship on November 27.
The 5-year-old had an impressive in-the-money record in 2021, winning or finishing on-the-board in 6-of-8 starts, including two allowance wins at Belmont. He earned a career-best 95 Beyer for an optional claiming victory two starts back sprinting seven furlongs over the Widener.
“He’s doing well. It’s his first race off the layoff and it will be a pretty competitive spot and deep waters,” Donk said. “It’s a big test for him. We were fortunate to win some open allowances last year, so at the moment, he isn’t really eligible for anything besides the stakes. It’s time to find out about where we stand and how good he is. He’s been a really fun horse for us.”
Hall of Famer John Velazquez has the call from post 2.
Pletcher Sends Out Toro Strike
Group 3 winner Toro Strike will make his second American start for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher after finishing seventh in the Colonel Power on February 19 at Gulfstream Park.
Owned by Al Shaqab Racing, the Kentucky-bred son of Toronado was a two-length winner of the Group 3 Weatherbys Hamilton Supreme at Goodwood in August for trainer Richard Fahey and won three other races in England.
Irad Ortiz, Jr. rides from post 8.
Completing the field are four-time winner and first-time gelding Penalty [post 1, Jose Ortiz], 2020 Grade 3 Bold Ruler Handicap winner Majestic Dunhill [post 4, Kendrick Carmouche], six-time winner Scuttlebuzz [post 5, Javier Castellano], stakes-placed Milton the Monster [post 9, Frankie Pennington], two-time winner American Monarch [post 10, Jose Lezcano] and graded stakes-placed Therapist [post 11, Joel Rosario].
The Elusive Quality is slated as Race 9 on Saturday’s 10-race card. First post is 1:20 p.m. Eastern.