The Suburban Handicap (Grade 2)- $700.000 Purse
BEL- For Four Year Olds and Upward
One Mile and One Quarter on the Dirt
July 7, 2018
A great day of racing at BEL on Saturday will include the 14th running of The Suburban Handicap, a great opportunity to see some of the more well known older horses in the game go at it. The entry list for the race does not disappoint, including the likes of Edwin Drood, Stranger, Laffin Parrot, and Lord High Admiral against many others who have also had sustained run of success in their careers. Even those with lesser earnings have noteworthy accomplishments under their belt, so we should have a great race. Australia Wide and Eastern Equine are the most successful trainers of the race, each having one twice, with the latter doing it last year with the great A One. This could be one of the top ten races that have never been won by Mb Stables, as well, and he’ll field three to try and change that. Weights range from 117 to 122, though the majority are between 117 and 119 pounds for this race. Let’s meet our field!
#1- American Ideal (Nakamura Stables, ridden by E A Roman)- On the rail, this five year old by Model American has been able to find the winners circle in his career, doing so after eight of 21 races. Only recently, however, has he been running at the stake level, as it follows an extended period of optional claimers. He’s managed just one stake win so far, the $100.000 Jazil at AQU. To win, he’ll have to be at his best, but the fact that he is getting better as he gets older is something to find appealing.
#2- Laffin Parrot (Mo Mentum Farm, ridden by A A Gallardo)- Last year around this time, Laffin Parrot picked up the biggest win of his career, taking the Queens Plate up north of the border. That led to a good run overall in Canada’s Triple Crown. He returned stateside and would win the Grade 3 Discovery Handicap. Also mixed in with his recent races, you will see several races that he did not win, but he was within a length, such as the PA Derby, SA Derby, and his last start the Gold Cup, all of which are Grade 1’s. No reason to think that he will not be close again, if not victorious.
#3- Lord High Admiral (John Henry, ridden by J R Velazquez)- Made a name for himself during the TC-chase of 2017, winning both the Grade 2 Rebel and Grade 1 AR Derby before ending up competitive in a 6th place KYD finish. When he won the AR Derby last April, if I told you he would go the next 14 months without a win, at least, you’d of thought I was crazy. The frustrating thing for John Henry is that he has been close in several races since then, including running third as recently as this past BC Classic. So, there has been money won by the trainer, but you have to think he wants a lot more. In four races this year, Lord High Admiral has not even earned a penny.
#4- Stranger (D J C Racing Stables, ridden by I Ortiz Jr)- This veteran six year old makes the 25th start of his career, which will be the second while running for D J C Racing Stables. The trainer was able to pick him up in private sales from $300.000 from Sanny Village in May. We’re sure that he is happy with him in D J C’s care, and he would debut last month for his new barn in the Metropolitan Handicap last month. The result was a bit of a disappointment, and looked to be a tactical changeup as he typically is out on the lead early, but in that race, he was at the back. Perhaps we will see him return to going out to the front again. He’s had a couple duds in his past performances, so there is no reason to be concerned about his ability to bounce back.
#5- Checking Me Out (Mb Stables, ridden by R Bejarano)- It may have taken this one a little longer then Mb Stables would have liked to break his maiden, but in ten starts he has been able to make money for the trainer, as he’s never been out of the money. After he got that win, he turned it into a stretch of three out of four victories, and that saw him move up to take on the graded ranks. He nearly picked up the win in this last start, the LS Handicap but was narrowly caught at the wire by Highest Esteem. Put up a very impressive work here on June 17 in anticipation of the biggest test of his career.
#6- Captain Oats (Mb Stables, ridden by J Talamo)- This colt has won six of fourteen races, but still looks for that big graded win. The highlight of his career was winning the $100.000 Shipman at SAR, for NY-breds, last year. Three graded attempts have been unsuccessful so far. Most recently, he coming off an open allowance win in April, at TUP. Sure, he was flat in this start prior to that, but I’m sure there were groans from other trainers in that TUP race when they looked at the field. Mb took the second spot in that very allowance as well, with one that ran in the Whitney the year prior. At least here, he’s where he belongs.
#7- Justin Credible (Maxmillion Farm, ridden by T C Baze)- Career start number thirty takes place for this five year old, and he is another example of a horse that is getting better as he gets older. He passed through many barns in his younger days, but has fared well with Maxmillion. Most of his recent starts came on the grass, but the best start he has had of late came on the main track in the Grade 3 Tokyo City Cup in April, where he was third. He is winless in seven career graded starts, and does need that signature win on his resume.
#8- Heez On Fire (Aml Racing, ridden by B J Hernandez Jr)- In thirteen races, Heez On Fire has picked up three wins, with the biggest of them being the Grade 1 Awesome Again last September. That was a result that helped him get into the BC Classic, but in that race, he was only able to beat one horse. He never really carried any momentum forward after that Awesome Again win, either, though he has been competitive. His last start saw him run 5th in the Metropolitan Handicap, beaten by two lengths. So, the runs have been good, but at the same time likely frustrating as there is no check for fifth (his finishing position in three of his last four starts).
#9- Turn Ninnie (TwinTowersRacing, ridden by R J Albarado)- After winning the Grade 2 Brooklyn right here at BEL last month, over the likes of Techfluence and Sean Hannity, Turn Ninnie has put together a run now of three wins in his last four races. It’s the best form of his career, and it really seemed to benefit him when he was taken off of the grass and moved onto the main track. That Brooklyn does make him one of the two in the field carrying the maximum of 122 pounds, but he seems to have done well carrying weight in his career. Capable of success while both running on the lead, and coming from behind. He will be a major threat in this field.
#10- Indian Chief (Mb Stables, ridden by F Pennington)- The best trainer in the game and the best jockey, the great F Pennington, winner of both the KYD and KYO, team up on this five year old. They’ll hope to get him his first win since March 2017! He’s run in several graded stakes since then, and was acquired by Mb Stables last September in the auction, and there have been several good finishes. He’s won one graded race in his career, but you have to turn the calendar back over two years, to May 2016, to find it. Indian Chief is on the verge of a win, but against the competition he faces here, I don’t think even having the services of HRP’s greatest jockey will get him a win. Now that I said that, I am preparing the “Indian Chief wins” headline now.
#11- Edwin Drood (Night Rider Stables, ridden by R Maragh)- One of the greatest horses in the game now has one of the greatest stories the game has ever seen surrounding him. He was a favorite of Sanny Village, and there were many great moments that they had together. Sadly, he has passed on, but Night Rider Stables upheld a promise to ride Sanny’s real life filly, and he did so in amazing fashion, with a “refuse to lose” effort in the stretch that brought a tear to my eye after watching it, knowing the backstory. Fittingly, Edwin Drood has ended up with Night Rider, and there was no one better to get him. Edwin Drood ran second in his first race in his new silks, narrowly missing the win the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap right here at BEL last month. A better position in the starting gate would have been nice, but I still feel he will get it done.
#12- Tekkers (Maxmillion Farm, ridden J K Court)– It’s hard in this game to win when you have one of these two things against you. Carrying a high weight, and starting from the outside. When you have to deal with both, the challenge is magnified even more. Tekkers is a talented gelding, winning six of 16 races, which include the Grade 2 Califonian Stakes in late April. However, he did not follow that up well in his last start, the Grade 1 Gold Cup, and that is why I am concerned about his ability to overcome the weight and the post in this field, regardless of how good he is.