Vanderbilt Handicap (Grade 1)- $350.000 Purse
SAR- For Three Year Olds and Upward
Six Furlongs on the Dirt
July 28, 2018
This is huge weekend in the build up for the BC Sprint as both the Vanderbilt takes place at the Spa, and the Crosby takes place out at DMR. While the Crosby has more BC meaning, and will host the bigger hopefuls, this race can not simply be forgotten about when considering that path. In this field, we will have our 2016 winner, Oversell It, look to pick up his second Vanderbilt win, and while he will probably not be the favorite this time around, he has proven he can win this race in the past. Last year, the race was won by Steel Will, for Australia Wide, in what would be the final race of his career. Interestingly, after winning this race, he starting going long, never really had success in top notch Grade 1’s, though sprinted for the BC, then went long again thereafter. He’d never win another race, though is still active. There is a field of nine here, and for most of them, this is a very pivotal race in determining if they are BC bound. Let’s take a look!
#1- Acquisitive (Mb Stables, ridden by J R Velazquez)- This gelding has only raced twice this season. After finishing fifth in the Vosburg, another of the great BC Sprint build up races, he took over six months off and did not reappear until the Ali at KEE, a small grade 3. He was third, and then was gelded. His first race as a gelding came in an optional claimer last month. His works suggest he’s ready to have a bounce back effort for his career here, and given the trainer, that can’t be counted out. Something about him though, that to me, makes him hard to pick.
#2- Squire Chili (Chili King Stables, ridden by J R Leparoux)- After a recent high level of success running in NY-breds, this three year old is getting his first chance at graded competition. Chili King is not starting small with him on that path either, putting him right here in the Vanderbilt. He comes off a win in the $50.000 Ontario County at FL against three NY-breds, and because of that he has to carry one more pound then a few others. On that note, I don’t see weight being a big player in this handicap. He’s on a big up and up for his career right now, and if you’re a risk taking trainer, this is a good spot to run in.
#3- No Waiting (Mb Stables, ridden by F Pennington)- The great F Pennington comes to SAR, as we know he so often does, to ride this four year old Decima gelding. He is looking to become the next great one that Decima has produced, having found his success mostly in allowances up to this point. At the end of June, he made his graded stake debut in the Grade 3 Smile Sprint Handicap, and ran third, just missing out in a photo to Oversell It for the second spot. His works coming into the race have been exceptional, and while he hasn’t really lived up to his name, because he’s made Mb wait a little to have bigger success, he’s starting to make that wait pay off.
#4- Oversell It (Team 7 Illusions, ridden by A Beschizza)- The winner of the 2016 Vanderbilt Handicap looks to become the first two time winner of the race. As 2016 went on, he looked to have been lost in the shuffle for then trainer, Mb Stables, and found his way to Jader Stable via private sales, then around this time last year, Team 7 Illusions scored him in a $65.000 claimer. Even when running in his new silks, however, his wins have mainly been in claimers lately. Then, Team 7 took a stab at the Grade 3 Smile Sprint, and Oversell It stepped up to run third. Is he back? We’ll find out after this race.
#5- Aqua Dulce (Sanny Village, ridden by P Lopez)- This veteran eight year old gelding makes the 37th start of his career. He’s traveled through many barns in his career, but when he made it to Sanny Village, something just clicked. He would win his first three races with his new trainer, including the 2016 Grade 2 True North, which was his first graded attempt. Most recently, he’s been running in ungraded stakes and won the $75.000 Mr Prospector. This is much bigger race, but that winning time in the Mr Prospector shows that he can still get it done, and will certainly be a fan favorite.
#6- American Phuegoah (The A Stable, ridden by J R Davila Jr)- The regular FL jockey gets to head to SAR to ride this four year old gelding as it stands right now. This is a horse that the trainer has always been high on, as evidenced by him running in the Grade 1 FL Derby last year fresh off of having broke his maiden. That did not go as planned, and American Phuegoah spent much of his three year old season off the track. Two weeks ago, he won an optional claimer at LA against CA-breds, and now comes here off that race. Works have been sharp, so is he now finally living up to the trainers hopes of early last year?
#7- Scouting Force (Gdp Inc, ridden by A A Gallardo)- Earlier in this preview, we talked about the horses who finished second and third in the Grade 3 Smile Sprint. Now, let’s meet the winner of that race. This is an interesting horse that has won five out of seven this year, and six for 13 in his career, so we know he is on his best form right now. It has not always been in big races, and he has bounced around for small claiming tags a few times before arriving with Gdp Inc. He’s 2-for-2 with his new trainer, who tested him in a $50.000 ungraded stake in his debut before running in the Smile Sprint, and turning a 100 SRF. Looks like he just needed a trainer who believed in him.
#8- El Gran Black- Scratched
#9- Lucky Star (Estero Farms, ridden by J K Court)- Perhaps the story of this horse is his journey through horse selling park. Initially, everything was fine with his breeder, Grimley, scoring three wins, and proving to be a very consistent performer. Grimley then sold him to Kopites for $120.000. Nothing unusual, yet. With Kopites, he was 3-for-3 in finishing second, including twice in ungraded stakes. Two of them were photos with the winner, but he would be sold to Titania Farm for $60.000. While it seemed like his value would have went up, he would only lasted one race with Titania, running second again, and being sold, for $120.000 again, this time to Team 7 Illusions. Team 7 would geld him, and he’d win the $100.000 Hughes. But that was not good enough to keep him around, as he was sold again, now for $150.000 to Smokey Stover. Smokey has downsized his stable, and now he runs for Estero Farms for the first time. What’s a more intriguing thing to bet on: Lucky Star in the Vanderbilt or the number of races before he is sold again? In all seriousness, Lucky Star is a strong contender here.
#10- Charley Cowgirl (D J C Racing Stables, ridden by C J Lanerie)- This Charley Farley colt (yes, colt. Despite the name, this is not a filly running against the boys, nor has he been gelded to seem more Cowgirl-like) will make his debut for D J C after being acquired from Fractious in private sales two days after running fifth in the Grade 1 Foster Handicap, for $300.000. At least there aren’t as many sale lines in his past performances, as is Lucky Star, though. It’s hard to say right now who got the better value from that sale, definitely could go either way. His last win came two starts ago in the Grade 2 Kona Stakes, which is also the only time in his last four starts that he has been in a sprint. Worked very impressively at BEL two weeks ago. I am very tempted to make him my top pick because I think he’s been yearning to go back to sprinting. It’s just hard to pick the horse in this starting post.