Who Will Declare Independence from the United Nations?

The United Nations Stakes (Grade 1) (BC)- $500.000 Purse
MTH- For Three Year Olds and Upward
One Mile and Three Eighths on the Turf
July 5, 2015

It is a fantastic holiday weekend of racing, and MTH will be no exception as some of the best distance turf horses come to the Garden State for the classic United Nation Stakes, a Grade 1 event which will also qualify its winner for the BC Turf this fall.   It is the tenth time in which this race has been held, with it not scheduled until 2006, but has been every year since.  The inaugural race was won by an autogen named Soundtrack, who went on to win the BC Mile in that same year.   Dogma appeared in the race three times, but could only win once, that being in 2007, and he would finish second in the BC Turf that season, after winning the race by a baffling 13 lengths the year before.   Charming Behrens, a winner of over $4,000.000 won the race in 2011 before placing 2nd in the BC Turf that year.  Loooking Goood, the 2011 BC Turf winner, won this race in 2012 as part of a great streak that he went on that year.    If you’re wondering, Bronze Sabre never raced in this event, as in July, he opted for BEL’s Man O War.  That stake was held already this year, in May, and won by a horse named Ashkalani.   Oh yes, our 2014 BC Turf winner, Ashkalani will be at MTH this weekend in hopes of picking up another big win.  He will meet some of his friends from the BC Turf last year again, including Z Jinxed One, who will be in different color silks then we are used too.  No trainer and no jockey has won this race more then once.  There’s ten going to the gate, and here’s a run through the field!

#1- Copper Clappers (Razorback Racing, ridden by J Rosario)-   The Copper Bottom colt is coming off a win in what proved to be a very good Louisville Handicap (G3), given that the second (Pure Violence) and fourth place (Bold Pretender) horses, were one-two in the San Juan Capistrano last week, with Bold Pretender the winner.  It was his first win of 2015, and Copper Clappers has never won back to back races, and actually looks a bit inconsistent over the course of his career.  He has attempted a Grade 1 just once before, coming in the 2014 Hirsch Turf Classic at BEL, where he was fourth, but beaten by four lengths.  What I like about this horse is that he seems to be best as the races get longer and longer, so he should be at his best in this race.  However, I am not sure if even his best can top the likes of Ashkalani, but he could get into that top three.

#2- Forever Steel (Mb Stables, ridden by J R Velazquez)- Last month, Mb Stables surprised some with the entry of Forever Steel in the Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap at BEL, given the colt had never raced on the grass before.  He was not in the money, but turned in a decent finish and gets another chance to run against the likes of Eve of Destruction and Titan today.   Both of them beat him in the Manhattan, but with another furlong, that can certainly be changed.  It might be hard to believe, considering a couple of the close calls he has had over last summer, that he has not won a graded stake since taking the Grade 2 Sanford at SAR at two year old.   Last year over Independence Day weekend, he was up at WO placing fifth in a very tight Queens Plate that had him miss only by half a length.   This is a consistent horse, as prior to the Manhattan, he ran off seven consecutive finishes in the top three, all while racing at the highest of levels.  Another thing to consider here is Mb’s selection of Forever Steel for this race, given the quantity of talented turf distance runners in his barn.  The trainer has a lot of faith in him, and that means no one should count him out.

#3- Eve of Destruction (Emerald Racing Inc, ridden by K Desormeaux)- This five year old gelding by Laffinspede has never been better, registering triple digit SRF figures in his last four races and five of his last six.  He also is coming out of the Manhattan Handicap, where he finished a heartbreaking second in losing the photo to Breiterate.    Before that, he was second again, this time in the G2 Elkhorn, where it was Ashkalani that did him in.  The last time he won was actually right after Christmas in the G3 McKnight Handicap.  Eve of Destruction is a versatile horse in that he has been successful both running up on the lead and coming off the pace, so we don’t necessarily know what the trainer will be telling Desormeaux to do with him here.   Everything about him points to him being right there at the end, and you have the feeling he is due for a Grade 1 win.

#4- Dance Charm (Sarah Stables, ridden by T C Baze)-   Comes off a very impressive race the last time he was out there, winning the Grade 2 Whittingham Stakes at SA by two lengths, and then by six over third place Bald and Beautiful.  That performance earned him a 101 SRF on the day.  It was the second graded win of his career, as he also took the G2 Twilight Derby at SA.   Another good race to look at when considering him is the San Luis Rey Stakes, where he met four of the runners that he will see here.  In that, he placed fourth overall and was  beaten by three that he sees again.  For as good as he has been, he is looking for his signature win against the best of the best, and he gets a chance to do that here.  Dance Charm seems to be improving, and he is a tough one to bet against.

#5- Ashkalani (Dandy Dan Stables, ridden by G Olguin)- Everything still seems to be going great with Ashkalani, and fans at MTH should cherish the opportunity that they have to see this horse on their track for the first time.  Since that great triumph in the BC Turf, the Seven Sevens colt has won twice and finished second twice, with those wins coming in his last two races.   In April, he captured the Grade 2 Elkhorn against similar company, and in the Man O War in May, he beat a few more of these, at this exact distance.  Dandy Dan Stables has given him some well earned rest, so we should be expecting him to be on top form here, which is bad news for everyone else.  Work times remain consistent, and Ashkalani will have a target on his back and not just the Dandy Dan checkerboard silks.  He is the favorite in here, but there are a few that are capable of knocking him off as well if you want to put your money elsewhere.

#6- Z Jinxed One (Sanny Village, ridden by R J Albarado)- The winner of the 2014 BEL has recently found a new home, being purchased by Sanny Village from Diablo Diablo for $700.000 exactly a year later from that BEL win.   Despite finding success in that big race, Z Jinxed One emerged as a tremendous turf horse, showing his potential immediately with a second place run in the Grade 1 Hirsch Turf Classic, the first time he was ever on grass.  And in his next race, the historic Pattison Canadian Invitational, he would see victory in that $1,000.000 Grade 1 at WO.  In the BC Turf , he made a valiant bid at Ashkalani, but would finish third.   Since then, Z Jinxed One may have seemed to become stagnant, with a pair of fifth place finishes before winning the BEL Gold Cup on soft turf last month.   That performance led to a change in ownership hands, and Sanny Village has taken his time getting Z Jinxed One ready to roll at MTH.   He’s a strong challenger to Ashkalani, and could use a nice win here.

#7- Titan (D J C Racing Stables, ridden by D Van Dyke)- Titan has lived up to his name pretty well, never backing down from the strongest of competitors at the longest of distances! The four year old colt will be hoping for a repeat of the Grade 2 San Luis Stakes at SA last March when he was able to defeat both Ashkalani and Z Jinxed One, as well as Copper Clappers and Dance Charm.  Based on that then, we know he can win this race.   When he won that one, we saw come from well off the pace to get the win, but in his last two races he has been up there running with the leaders a little more.   Work times are remaining consistent, so he is ready to get right back in the ring with these!  He can win, and certainly must be expected to be near the front at the end.

#8- Dogs Infowarrior (Grimley, ridden by J J Castellano)- The highlight of his career thus far was a victory in the Grade 3 Mineshaft Handicap at FG back in February, over a muddy main track.  Other then that, we have seen this four year old colt by Dogs Bachelor Party attempt several graded races, but not really make much headway in them.  He has been on the turf just twice before, winning an optional claimer on soft SAR turf, but then a distant seventh in the Grade 1 Hirsch Turf Classic, when he met a few of these before.  That was a while ago, and he has had time to improve.  Work times are right in line with the rest of this field, so even though he will be a longshot in this race, don’t entirely count him out.  In the unlikely event of an off track, he is certain one to lean towards.

#9- Make Change (Night Rider Stables, ridden by R Maragh)- The six year old gelding is the old man of the field, but recently we have been seeing older horses have success, so the trainer will be hoping that trend continues here.   Back in January, he was victorious in the Ft. Lauderdale Stakes (Grade 2), beating a very good distance turf horse in Bold Pretender along the way, but since then Make Change has not done much.  We are glad to see him going back to turf though after a couple tries on the main track saw quite dismal performances.  He returned to close impressively in the Manhattan Handicap last month, going from 12th to 5th in the final quarter mile.  If he needed more distance, he will get a little more here but he will need to pick it up a little bit to beat the elite horses of the division.

#10- Candy Cain N Able (Deja Vu Farm, ridden by R A Baze)- This is a horse that showed a lot of improvement over the course of his three year old campaign, starting with having difficulty with winning MSW’s at TAM and ending with allowance wins at BEL.  That progress has continued into this year with a win in the $75.000 ungraded Jerkens stakes in January then taking the Grade 2 Pam American in March, beating Eve of Destruction in the process.  Recently he ran gamely in the Man O War (G1), placing fifth.   The longer the race is, the more able he is, but unfortunately the post position draw did him no favors here.   He’ll have to find a way to overcome that, but if not, we should still expect to see him running against this company.

Prediction: 5-6-7-1


— NS

Categories: Grade I

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