The Sands Point (Grade 2)- $400.000 Purse
BEL- For Fillies Three Years Old
One Mile and One Eighth on the Inner Turf
September 16, 2017
This race is a bit of a milestone for me, as it represents my fourth anniversary of covering races for the SRF. Yes, the Sands Point was where it all begin! Things have changed a lot since that race, as the purse has since doubled. It had been $200.000 for a while, and did see a boost up to $500.000 for the last two years, so that puts the deduction for this race into perspective a little bit. The race also did have a short stretch in its history where it was run at 1 1/16 instead of the 1 1/8. We’ll have five going to the gate for this race, though did have a sixth entered and scratched. That number is a little disappointing given the stakes for this race, but we still have quality runners going here. Let’s meet them!
#1- Eastern Sky (Maxmillion Farm, ridden by J K Court)- It has become expected now for Maxmillion to continue to turn out great turf horses, and he is hoping that Eastern Sky can follow the lead of others that he has trained. There is no questioning her accomplishments, as she had a successful lead up to the KYO this year, including winning the Grade 3 Santa Ysabel, and then turning in a respectable fourth at the SA Oaks this spring. After the run in the KYO, Maxmillion moved her to the grass, which is where she has been for her last three starts. The results were good before the last run, and then they became great with a victory in the Grade 1 Beverly D at AP where she beat a strong field including the 2016 winner of the Sands Point, Congratulations. Based on this form, it looks like this is her race to lose. She should be a strong favorite.
#2- Nebraska Bootyism II (Drabfantasy, ridden by J Bravo)- This filly has an interesting history, with multiple attempts at trying to break her maiden the traditional way: maiden races. After many good and close finishes, but no wins, the trainer decided he had enough of them, and put her into stakes company anyway. That proved to be a good decision as she went on to win the $75.000 Wickerr Stakes. Perhaps not the strongest field, but at last, it was a victory! She’s getting better, but the speed figures don’t look like they can beat Eastern Sky. Though second is always a possibility.
#3- Cinis (John Henry, ridden by L Saez)- As a two year old, Cinis became well known thanks to second place finish in the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf last year, a result that followed a win in the Grade 1 Natalma. Then, the progress stagnated. Kopites was interested in her potential, and picked her up from M.b.o. Racing Stable for $300.000, and would eventually get her back in the winners circle at the Grade 3 Providencia. That led to M.b.o selling her to John Henry, for $301.000, where she has run alright. However, in the BEL Oaks, she finished five lengths behind Eastern Sky. Despite a better run in the Grade 2 Lake Placid at SAR, that race makes it hard for me to pick her here.
#4- Neonautics (Alberta Rose Stables, ridden by A A Gallardo)- An impressive run on soft turf in her last start has the trainer thinking big about the filly she claimed in just the race prior for $7.500. Prior to the last race, there would be little reason to think that Neonautics would be a contender here. However, in that optional claimer at MTH, she would go the longest that she had ever run and seemed to enjoy it. She may have been tiring late, so the cut back to nine furlongs is something that I like. This is a big step forward for her, but we have seen it done before. The big question mark would be how much of that win was a product of a horse with nautics in their name loving the rain that day.
#5- Steel Drummer (Axeman, ridden by L S Quinonez)- On the outside, Steel Drummer beats to a similar tune as a few of the others. She’s taking a bit of a shot here, and there are question marks. It took five races to break her maiden, but once she did, she followed it up nicely with an allowance win at five furlongs on PRX turf. It’s the only time she’s run on the grass, and after that race the trainer tried NY-bred company in the $100.000 Park Avenue, but she would not beat any of her rivals there. After another dirt try, its off to the grass again. But that’s not all! She’s also only gone long once, and she’s on a three month layoff.
#6- Darkest Days- Scratched