Carter Handicap is Anyone’s Race

The Carter Handicap (Grade 1)- $400.000 Purse
AQU- For Four Year Olds and Upward
Seven Furlongs on the Dirt
April 7, 2018

Not all of the big races at AQU have points on the line to go to the KYD and the KYO, as the 14th running of the Grade 1 Carter Handicap will also be taking place. This is a long sprint, with the horses taking it one turn and seven furlongs around the track. In the past, this is a race that has seen Alpha Ultimo end up in the winners circle, and more recently is has become a successful race for Mb Stables. He’s won it the last two times, with the ageless Visa Vice in 2016, and then Spring Lover last year. The weights in this handicap are steady between 117 and 119 pounds, with one notable exception. That would be Vegas Host, who is carrying 122 pounds. We’ll talk about him and the other seven horses in this field as we run through the field. Note that the chance of rain has dropped since reporting on the Gazelle yesterday. It is possible now that the storm is tracking more south then initially thought.

#1- Tekkers (Maxmillion Farm, ridden by L Saez)- The trainer showed a lot of faith in this one, purchasing him for $390.000 in private sales in mid-January, a few days after winning the Skip Away. That race was run at nine furlongs, and Maxmillion’s first race with this gelding, he sent him 10 furlongs, and he went on to wire the field in an open allowance. With things looking up, his next start, the Grade 1 Triple Bend Stakes at SA became a head scratcher, not just for the disappointing finish, but because he wasn’t near the front. Looks to bounce back, and it’ll be interesting to see the tactical decisions made on this one.

#2- Petrochemical (John Henry, ridden by C J Lanerie)- This gelding by Winter Dreams is about to embark on the toughest race of his career. He’s won two of eight, and his last win was a 4 ½ furlong allowance in November at CT. Despite the lack of a victory, he’s been getting good results, having been in the money the last three races. That’s enough for John Henry to feel good about Petrochemical making his stake debut in this Grade 1. Works seem strong heading into the race.

#3- Vino Bambino (Chili King Stables, ridden by J J Castellano)- Last month, Vino Bambino saw an impressive streak of always finishing first or second in his eight starts come to an end. It was his graded debut, and his fourth place finish still had him within half a length of a victory. That effort in the Grade 3 Fool Handicap saw him earn a 99 SRF, a career high. This will be the first time, other then his debut race, that he goes more then six furlongs, but it looks like he may really take a liking to it, especially on this track.

#4- Lucky Star (Smokey Stover, ridden by P Lopez)- A bunch of second place finishes in a row has seemed to mean that no one wants him around any more. The last five lines on his past performances are two races, and three private sales transactions. It’s his debut for Smokey Stover, who spent $150.000 to acquire him from Team 7 Illusions. Looks like a great horse with plenty of ability to win this race, but what he needs more then anyone else is a stable to call home for more then one race.

#5- Highest Esteem (Axeman, ridden by J Valdivia Jr)- The five year old gelding will make the 27th start of his career, and to pick up his third consecutive victory in the process. His last outing saw him win the $150.000 right here at AQU, getting a nose up just in time to win that mile race. This is a return to the graded ranks for him, but its been about two full years since he attempted a KYD prep race. It is also appealing that he will carry five less pounds here then he did in The Stymie.

#6- Scripted (Mb Stables, ridden by J Alvarado)- The trainer looks for his third straight win in this race, and will hope that Scripted runs as well here as he did last month. In the Fool Handicap, a Grade 3, he came from the back to get up for the victory, defeating Vino Bambino in the process. That victory represented the first graded win for the Commanding gelding, and he is very appealing here with the extra furlong that this race has in comparison to the Tom Fool.

#7- Vegas Host (Nakamura Stables, ridden by J Rosario)- Just after Christmas, Vegas Host won the Grade 1 Mailbu Stakes, a seven furlong race, at SA. Due to that win, he is the high weight in this field, carrying 122 pounds, which is 3-5 pounds more then everyone else. In what looks to be a close race, that’s tough to overcome. Vegas Host seems like he can handle that though, as a strong second in the General George, a Grade 3 at LRL, saw him carry 124 pounds, and he finished with a similar winning time. Vegas Host has proven that he loves this distance.

#8- De Fuego (Defoe, ridden by M E Smith)- This one also comes out of the General George last month at LRL, and his effort saw him be fourth for pretty much the entire race. He’ll have to show more interest in getting involved early, much like he would in 2017 when he put together a nice string of top two finishes in seven out of eight races. Despite being fourth in the General George, note they carried the same weight in that race, but De Fuego will be carry four fewer here.

Prediction: 7-8-4-6

— NS

Categories: Grade I, STAKES ARTICLES

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