The United Nations (Grade 1)- $300.000 Purse
MTH- For Three Year Olds and Upward
One Mile and Three Eighths on the Turf
July 1, 2017
The United Nations is a Grade 1 turf race for those who like to run forever. It is a race that once appealed to the likes of Dogma, Charming Behrens, and Loooking Goood. That is when the purse for the race was $750.000, which it was from 2006 to 2011, before dropping to $500.000. Then last year, we saw another hit in that purse, meaning that the race would now run for $300.000, or less then half what it ran for at inception. The race still carries its Grade 1 designation, but it’s disappointing to see what once a great race to look forward lose some of its prestige. Fortunately, we’re still able to attracted some top horses for this race, so here’s a run through the field.
#1- Darkest Days (Mb Stables, ridden by R Bejarano)- We’re going to start things off with a three year old filly! She’s had an excellent career thus far, winning six of nine races, and she took part in the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf last year. While that did not do well, she’s gone on to win four of her next five races, and won her first graded stake, the Grade 3 Eatontown Stakes right here at MTH last month. Running against the boys will afford her a ten pound weight allowance against the entire field as she is also the only three year old in the race.
#2- Kenny Wisconsin (Aer Stables, ridden by F Pennington)- The five year old gelding will be running in new colors for this race, having been sold from long time trainer Frozen Tundra to Aer Stables in the auction about two weeks ago, for $140.000. The price seems good for both the buyer and seller, as up until his last race, which was hopefully just an April Fools Joke, he had been very consistent while showing the ability to win at this level. On the 23rd, at BEL, he fired off a bullet six furlong turf work on a busy morning, and that increases my confidence about him. My concern is the layoff, as he will be just at 90 days for this race since his last race, and he’ll only have two races since October after this. That rest could also prove to be very beneficial.
#3- Moms Guy (Hawaiian Shirt Guy, ridden by J J Castellano)- On the same day that Kenny Wisconsin was auctioned off, Moms Guy experienced the same, but went for about half the price. On hin, the price was $75.010 to go from Four Winds Racing to Hawaiian Shirt Guy. Does that mean he is only half as good? Not at all, and is more because of his age, though at six, he still has some racing left in him. He’s won four of his last eight races, two of them being at the graded level. The most recent triumph was the Grade 2 Diarmida at GP in March, against an excellent field, at this 11 furlong distance. He’s appealing here.
#4- War Scent (Our Athletes, ridden by J R Leparoux)- One of three autogens in the race. I can’t remember the last time that a race was nearly half autogens, so that’s a little interesting. War Scent is a six year old gelding that is on the cusp of $2,000.000 in career earnings. He had a long and successful career running for Mb Stables, with a particularly impressive stretch during the summer of 2015. We’ve moved on now, and War Scent went for just $50.020 in the December auction to his current trainer, Our Athletes. That’s turned in to a bargain, as he has remained in good form, hitting the board in three of four starts, all of which are at the graded level. The highlight was a win in the Grade 2 Ft Lauderdale in January. Also in that stretch, three of four races have seen triple digit SRF’s, so this horse is not slowing down.
#5- Spotted Cat (Blushing Meadows, ridden by I Ortiz Jr)- I have been getting a lot of his races lately, and up until his last race, the Grade 1 Manhattan, he’s been stepping up when I have covered him. However, the Manhattan showed, on paper, his tendency to have the occasional disappointing race. Don’t let that deceive you. First of all, the Manhattan had a loaded field that it could be considered a summertime BC Turf. Looking back at the recap, I am reminded of the awful trip that Spotted Cat had, in that he had to go so wide heading into the stretch that some might of thought he was going to jump into the grandstands. That’s a throw out, and Spotted Cat does not have two bad races in a row. He is my pick to win here.
#6- Steel Kelp (John Henry, ridden by K J Desormeaux)- The eight year old gelding will make career start #56 in this race. If you remember him from last year, good job, as he finished second in this very race to Sir Tom, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The question is, is he better this year to improve by one spot? Sir Tom might not be here, but Spotted Cat is. His last race is a complete throw out, as Steel Kelp has shown us that as soon as one drop of water hits the turf, he should be scratched. I’d have like to have seen a better run in the Pan American, though he was terrific in the McKnight. I’m usually a little more decisive in getting an opinion on a horse, but I am completely torn on which way he may go here.
#7- Sunny Gabe (Mb Stables, ridden by R J Albarado)- The trainer is not pinning all his hopes on his young filly, as he also enters this four year old autogen. Sunny Gabe was acquired by Mb Stables in February of last year for $200.000 in private sales, showing a lot of confidence in a horse that had not yet done a whole lot. They immediately clicked in winning an allowance, then a race later, he was victorious in the Grade 3 Miami Mile. In total, Sunny Gabe has won seven out of 10 starts since that purchase, with two more graded wins, both Grade 3’s. Attempts like this one, to move him up a notch have been the non-victories, but his run in the Grade 2 San Luis Rey Stakes at SA was actually quite impressive. He’s definitely a threat here.
#8- Bama Blue Streak (Hambletonian Stable, ridden by L M Ocasio)- A veteran of 52 career races, Bama Blue Streak will be looking to make his 20th career win also his first graded win. He has primarily been a claimer throughout his career, and during that time, he has passed through several barns, but the one constant is that he always races at least eleven furlongs. Since re-claiming him, Hambletonian entered him in starter allowances heavily, and found success there. There’s been one try at the graded level, but unfortunately, he had to deal with yielding turf that. Another thing about him is that this is his eleventh start of 2017 already. And based on his continued consistency, he wouldn’t have it any other way. This, though, is a tough assignment.