Pharoah Stakes (Grade 1) (BC)- $300.000 Purse
SA- For Two Year Olds
One Mile and One Sixteenth on the Dirt
September 27, 2019
Named in honor of one of our recent triple crown winners in real racing, a field of eleven go to post in hopes that they will be able to become the first TC winner within our virtual world. The race was renamed the Pharoah Stakes last year, and it was formerly known as the FrontRunner Stakes. That 2018 race was won by Questionable, who’d then go on to finish second in the BC Juvenile, prior to a successful three year old season that saw him win the Queens Plate in June. Others in that field were Chrystal Believer and Fear The Dragon. These eleven horses come into the race with hopes and dreams of having similar success, and while some have done more then others at this point, but all of them have promise. Let’s look at our field!
#1- Customer Service (Mb Stables, ridden by J Talamo)- The gelding was happy to be able to go long for the first time last month, breaking his maiden in his fourth start, and in convincing fashion. It is interesting that there are not many in this field who have gone a mile yet, so you have to look favorably on his chances given that experience, and the way he poured it on at the end of that maiden win.
#2- Orion Nebula (John Henry, ridden by M Franco)- For a horse that has done nothing wrong in his career, it is a little frustrating to see him involved in the same amount of private sales transactions as he has races. John Henry spent a lot of money on Fractious horses when the latter began to sell out, and Orion Nebula, who is three for three so far, should prove to be one of the better purchases. Looked good in winning the SAR Special (Grade 2) last month, and work times suggest that he will not have the slightest problem in stretching out.
#3- Geronimo (Nakamura Stables, ridden by A Beschizza)- On the day that Orion Nebula was winning the SAR Special, Geronimo was coming up short in the Grade 2 Best Pal at DMR, tiring late to be fifth. Previously, he had shown he was better when not running on the pace early. This is a horse that works exceptionally well, and that was on display at a mile at LA earlier this month. He might need to prove himself a little against these rivals, but if he lives up to those works, he certainly can.
#4- Lake Success (D J C Racing Stables, ridden by T Gaffalione)- I see a pretty similar horse here as I saw with Geronimo. He has one win in four races, a good looking win against NY-breds at beautiful Saratoga Race Course, but then finished off the board at the Funny Cide, also for NY-breds. Of course, that race was one of those cluster finishes at the wire, so the actual effort was probably much better then the finishing spot. He’s working great, but like Geronimo, I think he has to prove himself a little. My saying that does not mean that I feel that either of them can’t do it. They certainly can.
#5- Intaglio (Arindel, ridden by D Van Dyke)- Acquired in private sales for just $10.000 in June from Barcelona Farms a few weeks after breaking his maiden at GG in a sprint. He struggled in his first race with the trainer, but made that a distant memory with a win in the $100.000 Im Smokin, for CA-breds at the end of last month. He has not gone longer then six furlongs, and that will be the question with him. I am not as convinced about him getting it as I am with Orion Nebula.
#6- Jezza (Estero Farms, ridden by L Contreras)- This gelding was purchased from Aer Stables for $70.000 at the beginning of August, and he went on to break his maiden nine days later at the Spa, against NY-breds at seven furlongs. So far, this horse has been able to step when asked for more distance, and it may be that having been gelded at the beginning of July did him a world of good. He had a mile work at PRX which puts him right in line with the rest of the field, and the more recent shorter works at LA have also looked pretty good.
#7- Ronaldo Chop (Night Rider Stables, ridden by S X Bridgmohan)- So far in his young career, Ronaldo Chop has spent the majority of his career up at WO, and three times has run with the ON-bred restriction. He has not won any of those stakes, though, and I would have liked to have seen at least one of them been a win. At the same time, he was second twice by less then a length. The question, like it is for others, is whether or not he can stretch out. He will have to better then his August 19th work to beat this company in this race, but there could be many reasons for that.
#8- Sweet Sweat- Scratched
#9- Spirited Stride (Mb Stables, ridden by R Bejarano)- Earlier this month, Spirited Stride lived up to his name and won the Grade 1 DMR Futurity. Somewhat surprisingly, he is the only one in this field to have ran in that race. Previously, he was a non-factor in the SAR Special after starting from an outside post. I have no question about his being able to get this distance, but this will be his third race in about six weeks, and his sixth overall race already. That’s not something I am used to seeing from an Mb Stables two year old. Not sure if anything should be made of that.
#10- Midnight Special (Allinthegate, ridden by J R Velazquez)- Looking to win his third in a row, and will try to do it while making his stake debut. His prior two wins each came at Saratoga, first his maiden at the beginning of August, and then an allowance at the beginning of this month. He has shown a liking to being on the lead early in the races, but his times in the stretch show that he will not tire out. Stretching out will be a test, but he has certainly earned the opportunity.
#11- The Mist (Rampage Stable, ridden by J Rosario)- The gelding has one win in three starts, that coming at DMR at a mile towards the beginning of August. That puts him in pretty exclusive company with this field because the only other horse there that has won a race at this a mile of more is Customer Service over on the rail. That experience will prove to beneficial here, but he will still need to find a way to overcome the outside post draw. He likes to be on the lead early, so he could have to contend with the outside push.
#12- Cairn Toul (The Sidley Stud, ridden by K J Desormeaux)- No one in this field has been at the track more then Cairn Toul, who is set to make his seventh such start. With that then, I would have preferred to see a better stake win in the mix then the $30.000 TUP Open Spring Futurity. His last two starts have been on the grass, but based on a recent work at PRX, it does seem best to have him back at the main track. I like how he worked on the 16th in that it shows marked improvement from his prior mile work. Still, he has to contend with this tough starting spot.