Happy Turf Triple Day!
Today’s card features the third legs of the Turf Triple – the Jockey Club Oaks for three year old fillies and Jockey Club Derby for three year old colts. These two races are now Grade IIIs having been moved up from ungraded status last year and carry $700,000 and $1 million purses respectively.
While these races are listed as being on the Aqueduct “Turf” course – it is actually the inner turf. NYRA designates the Big A inner turf as the “Turf ” and the newer turf course that was set up a couple years ago as the “Outer Turf.” I like Peter Thomas Fornatale’s suggestion to name one of the Big A turf courses for the late, great Harvey Pack. It would be a fitting tribute to a person whose influence on New York racing will be felt for a very long time. May the horse be with you!

Race 7 Jockey Club Oaks Invitational – Grade 3
One Mile and Three Furlongs On The Turf for Three Year Old Fillies

September 17th, 2022

This race has a six horse field that surprisingly only includes Chad Brown’s McKulick from the first two legs of this series. Unfortunately With The Moonlight is not back here for a rubber match with McKulick. Charlie Appleby chose to run her back in the Lake Placid Stakes at Saratoga rather than go the longer distance of today’s race.

The Runners

McKulick: She has never finished out of the exacta in six lifetime starts for Chad Brown. Last out in the Saratoga Oaks she was a decent second after tracking the leaders but was never close to beating With The Moonlight as she didn’t show much of a quickening in the stretch (91 Beyer). Two back in the Belmont Oaks she laid further off the pace and came with a strong stretch run to defeat With The Moonlight (93 Beyer). With the absence of With The Moonlight she is the one to beat here. Using.

Nostalgic: Bill Mott redirects this one to the turf after facing the top three year old fillies in the CCA Oaks and Alabama at the Spa where she was a distant third and sixth respectively. She didn’t do much running in her only career turf start in the Grade 3 Sweetest Chant at Gulfstream. Has several turf works at the Spa in advance of today. Medaglia d’Oro has been a good sire for turf runners including Talismanic who won the Breeders’ Cup Turf. Godolphin/Mott are not connections that are prone to doing goofy things. They must believe she will take to the grass – but going but eleven furlongs is a lot to ask. Possible underneath slice.

Canisy: Lightly raced filly is in her fifth career start today after running decently in the Riskaverse Stakes at the Spa in her first stakes attempt (79 Beyer). She had a nice inside trip, but the pace may have been a bit sharp for her going one mile on the inner turf. More ground today may help her as she is by Point of Entry who is by Dynaformer. Two back she won on opening day of the Saratoga meet going nine furlongs in an optional claimer race where Castellano was able to walk the dog on the front end. That doesn’t appear to be a likely option today. Looking elsewhere.

Toskana Belle: After breaking her maiden in France she ran in Germany where she won a minor stakes at a mile and then finished a decent third in a Group 3 race at Hoppegarten while stretching out to ten furlongs. She took a couple months off and came back with a win last out in the Group 1 German Oaks at Dusseldorf going eleven furlongs at 16-1 with a 109 Timeform rating (which translates to about a 89ish Beyer). Frankie Dettori is in the irons as he ships in to ride both stakes today. Value play. The Pick.

Miss Yearwood: Switched to the turf last out by Ian Wilkes after some success on the dirt. She won that lone turf effort at Ellis Park (80 Beyer) by rallying from last with a nice inside trip on the turn and tipping out to run them all down. Showed a good turn of foot and determination that day. More ground should work for her. Lasix is OFF. She’ll be coming late. Underneath.

Beside Herself: Pletcher trained filly has three wins from eight career starts including a win at twelve furlongs against Optional Claiming company last out at the Spa (88 Beyer). In all three of her wins she went right to the lead and controlled the pace. Can she get a comfortable front end trip again with Canisy and Toskana Belle here? Finished well behind McKulick in the Regret Stakes in June – but it is hard to assess performances from that Churchill turf course. Lasix is OFF. Not today.


Race 10 – The Jockey Club Derby Invitational – Grade 3
One Mile and a Half on the Turf For Three Year Olds

September 17th, 2022

This field is headlined by Classic Causeway and Nations Pride who were the respective winners of the first two legs of this series. Nations Pride turned the tables on Classic Causeway in the Saratoga Derby Invitational, but Classic Causeway proved his Belmont Derby performance was no fluke.

The Runners

Classic Causeway: Was decent in the Saratoga Derby where he got to the lead but just couldn’t hold off Nations Pride in the stretch and was headed by Annapolis for place – who in turn came back and won for fun in the Saranac. Two back in Classic Causeway’s first turf effort he won the Belmont Invitational Derby at 27-1 (89 Beyer). He got loose by about five lengths while setting a moderate pace and they never came to him. Trouble is that he is a confirmed front end runner, and he needs get a mile and half today. While that’s doable he also has a stalker in the form of Nations Pride who can sit a trip and pounce late. Prat picks up the mount. Hits the board.

2. Wicked Fast: Joe Sharp entered this gelding in a $1 million race off of $35,000 claimer at the Spa for non-winners of three lifetime where Wicked Fast finished a decent second. Speed figs are not way off, and he has hit the board in six of eight career starts – all on the turf. But his two wins were in a Maiden Claimer with a 59 Beyer and the other was over a bog. Lasix comes OFF. Overmatched.

Nations Pride: Charlie Appleby shipped this one over from England for the Belmont Invitational and was a good second behind loose of the lead Classic Causeway (88 Beyer). In the most recent effort in the Saratoga Invitational William Buick kept him closer by establishing position off the leader early. When they got to the eighth pole he moved on Classic Causeway and was much the best after changing leads mid-stretch. He has had a series of steady drills at Saratoga leading into this. Live runner with Frankie Dettori coming in for the mount, who did not give this one a great ride in the Belmont Invitational. I imagine that won’t happen again. Should track behind Classic Causeway who will be sent from his inside. The Pick.

The Grey Wizard: This is the third North American outing for this Graham Motion trained gelding. His two earlier efforts were decent against N1X company with an 84 Beyer last out. In that last effort he essentially made a similar move to Daunt who he slightly bested. He will get some pace to run which suits his deep closing style and Johnny V stays in the saddle. But that isn’t cheap speed up front and this is a much tougher group than he has faced even though he has been running against elders. He will have to love the longer distance to contend. Lasix comes OFF. Can pick up some pieces. Use in supers and trifectas.

Daunt: Bobby Ribaudo enters Daunt here off a decent fifth at the Spa where he was beaten by only two lengths and edged by The Grey Wizard for fourth. Got a nice inside trip that day that will be a bit tough to repeat here – the extra distance should be no issue. Lasix comes OFF. Price play for a small piece of the pie.

Ardakan: Was a very good third last out in the Group 1 Grosser Preis von Berlin going today’s distance at Hoppegarten against elders. That day he was in position but couldn’t match Rebel’s Romance last furlong – who has won three in a row since the switch to grass and we may see him in the Breeders’ Cup Turf for Godolphin/Appleby. So no shame there. Last win was three back in the Group 2 Italian Derby. Consistent performer has hit the board in six of seven career starts and is versatile. Can handle the distance and he fits here. Win candidate.