SSM Turf ($150.000 Purse)
GP- For Four Year Olds and Upward Foaled in FL
One Mile and One Sixteenth on the Turf
January 20, 2018
It’s SSM weekend at GP, and that can being back memories of some of the great purses that used to be associated with these races. Times have changed, and for the SSM Turf, what was once a $500.000 race and attracting the likes of Siberian Rhythm and Charming Behrens, is now a much smaller $150.000 race. In those glory days, such as 2009, we had a 14-horse field for the race. Now, we have four. Not to knock on the caliber of horses in this race, but it’s sad that this race is not what it once was. The good news is that we still have the race, and we do have four horses who are going to the gate, so let’s take a look at them.
#1- Awaken (Hambletonian Stable, ridden by N Suarez)- The trainer saddles half the field for this race, and Awaken is a more lightly raced horse. He was acquired last month from Mb Stables in the auction for $59.100, and they have one race together, which was less then stellar run allowance run at SA. With a little more time together now, hopefully they have worked out the kinks as he seemed to be running better before the auction. I’m interested in seeing how wins the race within the race between the two Hambletonian entries. Perhaps, Awaken benefits nicely here from his weight advantage over the top two.
#2- Private Sector (Allinthegate, ridden by J R Leparoux)- This looks like the one to beat in the race, although he does carry two more pounds then does Awaken and Royal Sevens. I am not concerned about that. He was lightly raced in 2017, but did have a four-race winning streak that he put together, which includes three ungraded stakes. His last two starts saw a graded stake attempts, and he was decent enough in those for me to have confidence that he will confidently drop down into this race without any problem. A career high 101 SRF in his last race, the Grade 3 Tropical Turf Handicap is worth a mention.
#3- Red Zebell (Hambletonian Stable, ridden I Ortiz Jr)- If it were not for his weight disadvantage, I would feel confident picking him, but that 130 pounds that he has to carry for this race is going to do him in, I feel. That’s four more pounds then Private Sector, and six more then the other two. Considering how important weight is in our game, I do not think he will overcome it. Looking beyond that, though, there’s a reason he has to carry that, and it’s because he is an accomplished racehorse with six wins in 27 starts, which includes qualifying for the BC mile last November. Needs to recapture the form from back in September, when he ran in the Grade 2 Baruch handicap at SAR.
#4- Royal Sevens (Sizing Europe Lodge, ridden by J Rendon)- The trainer hopes his seven year old season will have royal success, but the present run of form really does speak otherwise. His last seven starts have seen him fail to hit the board, entirely, and while there were some big races in that stretch; I would have liked to have seen him break through in the open allowance he attempted or the smaller ungraded stakes, such as the $75.000 Diliberto last month. Maybe and hopefully the trainer has figured something out, but I’ll pass.