The Baruch Handicap (Grade 2)- $250.000 Purse
SAR- For Three Year Olds and Upward
One Mile and One Sixteenth on the Inner Turf
September 3, 2018
To some, Labor Day may be the unofficial end of summer, but around here, Labor Day is known more for being the end of the Saratoga meet. I was able to get up there once this year, so am glad for that, and hopefully those who were also able to get up to the track were able to enjoy it as it was a rather wet meet. On the HRP side of things, congratulations to Mb Stables on winning the meet title, that is a bit of a foregone conclusion, but the battle for second between D J C Racing Stables, Night Rider Stables, and Team 7 Illusions looks like it will come down to the end. One of the races on the card for the final day is the 14th running of the Baruch Handicap, a Grade 2 for turf stars. The field of six carries either 119 or 120 pounds, so weights in this handicap are a non-issue. We have a good mix of horses here, so let’s take a look!
#1- Highest Esteem (Axeman, ridden by E Maldonado)- The five year old gelding will be making his 32nd career start, and third appearance at Saratoga. He is a perfect 2-for-2 here, including a win nearly exactly a year ago today. Early in his career he ran in some high quality races, and he started becoming resurgent early this year. A win in the $150.000 Stymie at AQU was a step forward, and on Memorial Day weekend, he would pick up a victory in the Grade 3 LS Handicap. He has also won his most recent start, which was an open allowance. Hasn’t raced on the grass since January, though.
#2- Ingrained (Mb Stables, ridden by P Lopez)- This is one of those graded stakes that Mb Stables does not have a trophy for. Ingrained has picked up several other trophies in his career, though, none being any bigger then the one picked up after winning the BC Mile last year. As great as that was, he has not won since. After that BC Mile, and ran in fiv consecutive open allowances, including one at LAD, and picked up no wins. We are told that he returned to the graded ranks here for the Fourstardave, but not many saw him finish, as he lost by 11 lengths. Looking at his work times, you don’t see an apparent problem but he needs to get his career back in the right direction.
#3- Endure Luxury (Joshua Stables, ridden by R Bejarano)- Acquired in the June auction for just $20.000, the six year old gelding will be returning to the graded ranks, something that he has not been in for the last three years. Given his age, he is very lightly raced with just 13 starts, and has a symmetric (4-4-4) record in those starts. He never raced in 2017. So, you have to like this ability to be near the front. Only his debut race saw him fail to finish in the top three. Most recently, he ran here at the beginning of August for the $100.000 Lure Stakes, where he was the runner up on soft turf. I would not be surprised to see him win this race, but will not make him one of my picks.
#4- Iron Desperation (D J C Racing Stables, ridden by L H Colon)- Speaking of the $100.000 Lure Stakes that Endure Luxury was second in, the winner that day is here as well. Iron Desperation won that race by four lengths in what was his first race running in the D J C Racing Stables silks. He was acquired pretty cheaply as well, via a $23.500 claim from Mb Stables. He may have been lost in the shuffle there, but stepped up nicely in the Lure. Overall, he knows how to win, picking up six victories in nine career starts, and he also seems to love this exact distance of a mile and a sixteenth. Some concern could be that he has never raced at the graded level before, but he has earned this chance, and I think he is going to get it done!
#5- Cannon (Maxmillion Farm, ridden by L Saez)- After nearly a full six months, Cannon will be heading back to the race track. The last time we saw him was in March, where he disappointed in an optional claiming event at SA. At times in his career, Cannon looked to be on the cusp of bigger and better things, and does have a win in the $130.000 OK Classics Turf that he can boast about. Otherwise, he’s been a little inconsistent, so the trainer is hoping that the extended time away from the track will do him good. Maxmillion must like where he is at in order to place him here in his first race back.
#6- Destin (D J C Racing Stables, ridden by J R Velazquez)- This Sneaky Little Pirate knows a thing or two about finishing second, and that may be where he finishes again today. In 17 races, he has been second in eight races, and that goes against two wins, and four thirds. However, the trainer might not mind if I predicting him to finish second behind his stablemate! Destin is winless this year, and has not won since April 2017. However, he has been within a length of victory in seven of the ten races since then. This looks like it is going to be one of those races for him again.