BC Winners Meet in The Palm Beach Stakes

The Palm Beach Stakes (Grade 3)- $150.000 Purse
GP- For Three Year Olds
One Mile and One Sixteenth on the Turf
February 29, 2020

On the undercard of the Fountain Of Youth here at GP, those who prefer the grass will get the chance to showcase their abilities in the 17th running of The Palm Beach Stakes, a Grade 3 event with a modest $150.000 purse. The past winner’s list is not really a who’s who of turf horses, but 2017 had a very noteworthy winner in Clockwork Chai, who was particularly unstoppable this time of year. Last year, High Voltage was the winning trainer, with Laffin Jamie. They have not laffed together in the winners circle since that race, but he still had several in the money finishes in graded events with still time to get more. For this race, we have a couple of BC champions to make it particularly exciting, against several less heralded horses. It will make for an interesting battle, so let us meet the field!

#1- Pontificate (Dynark Stables, ridden by I Ortiz Jr)- The old king is back at this level, but he might have to work some of the special touch he would have with horses in order to get a win here. Pontificate makes just his fourth career start, and has just his one maiden win. There is plenty of reason to be excited about this horse, and if we didn’t have the caliber of field we have here, I’d like him better. But the new king, and others, have powerful entries.

#2- Whereismywaffle (Tiratzo, ridden by L Saez)- A winner of three out of five in his career thus far, which is highlighted by a win in the $100.000 Awad. Prior to that he tried the Summer Stakes, which is always a very tough race, and he did not run well. He’d be gelded soon after. Unfortunately, he didn’t follow up the Awad well, failing to beat a horse in a SA optional claimer. Surely, there’s an excuse for that if he is here, and after writing up some more horses and looking at that race closely, I see what that excuse was. It was only an optional claimer in name, and a graded stake in race caliber. I feel a little better about him now, but still not my pick.

#3- Lord Voldemort (Night Mare Racing, ridden by T Gaffalione)- This horse is a little like Pontificate to me in that he seems well placed to be taking on Grade 3 competition at this purse level, but some of the horses he needs to beat here are going to be tough. He’s won two out of three, but the claim to fame is a simple $25.000 ungraded stake at TUP. Deserves the chance to see what he has at this level, and that seems to be the most useful way of looking at him right now. Tough to support at the wagering window.

#4- Mr Scratch (D J C Racing Stables, ridden by A Beschizza)- So far, Mr Scratch has only taken up sprinting, but after a highly disappointing finish in a optional claimer at SA, where he ran 7th of 9, he is looking at going longer. This seems to make sense, because looking back two starts, we have his biggest win, a $100.000 ungraded stake at AQU where he closed well to get up for the win. Perhaps at SA, he was too far off the pace, so it is likely just a tactical adjustment that the trainer will hope to figure out. Not my choice, but I would not rule him out.

#5- Stressed Out (Rampage Stable, ridden by J Rosario)- Now, we’re going to start to see horses that ran in the BC, but for Stressed Out, you have to wonder if the biggest problem is the jockey. J Rosario is now 1-for-51 here for the meet (as of press time). He’s a great jockey, and eventually that will turn around, but right now he is a cold hand. Won the Grade 3 Bourbon at KEE, then was fourth in the BC Juvenile Turf to the ultimate winner of that race, who was……

#6- Hollywood Estrella (Estero Farms, ridden by J R Velazquez)- That’s right, the reigning BC Juvenile Turf winner is here for the Palm Beach Stakes and looking to pick up his first win since then. He’s only raced one time since that big day, and that came in an optional claimer at SA against three rivals. He would only be able to finish second there, and by the way that’s the same race where Whereismywaffle finished fourth. (Maybe I was too hard on him, then). The winner of that race? Are you serious, he’s in this field too? We’ll get to him, later. That was a $30.320 graded stake, basically. (The other horse in that field is not here, but just sold, yesterday, to Maxmillion Farm, the master of the turf).

#7- Eggs And Bacon (Mb Stables, ridden by M Tunon)- If we were going by horse names alone, the perfect exacta here would be Eggs And Bacon and Whereismywaffle, though making that even better would to be to put Awaiting on top of both of them in a trifecta. Eggs And Bacon is more then a great way to start your day, it is also the name of this very talented gelding with an interesting parental name combination as well, that won the Grade 1 Summer Stakes and ran third in the BC Juvenile Turf. This will be his first race since then, so the layoff will be a concern. Make sure he gets his coffee as well, and is ready to go.

#8- Hardline Hugo (Hawaiian Shirt Guy, ridden by J Bravo)- Haven’t seen Hawaiian Shirt Guy in one of these races in a while, so good to see them back, at least in a race I cover. Hardline Hugo has won two of five, and they are also his last two. After breaking his maiden, he won a $60.000 ungraded stake. This makes him one of those horses that seem well placed to be running in a $150.000 Grade 3, but could have done without seeing the BC runners in here.

#9- Dream Vision (John Henry, ridden by S R Bahen)- After acquiring this horse for $150.000 in private sales, John Henry has not wasted much time entering him here in the Palm Beach Stakes, so you know he has high hopes for him. This is a horse that makes his stake debut of any sort here, so the trainer was certainly impressed with his win at FG last month, as well as recent turf works, which do look very good. Can he step up here against this type of crowd? We’ll see soon.

#10- Awaiting (Chili King Stables, ridden by J R Leparoux)- This is a horse that has been running in top graded stakes within this division, including the BC Juvenile Turf (where he was 5th), but is still awaiting his signature win against this company. He’s won two races, which elevated him into the graded ranks, and he has had a couple of close calls, too. Did not handle the soft turf at the TX Mile well in his last start.

#11- Kimura (Mb Stables, ridden by R Bejarano)- I didn’t misspeak when I said we have a couple of BC Champions in here, because we also have Kimura in this race, the winner of the BC Juvenile Turf Sprint. Since that victory, he has been working longer and turning out some excellent times at a mile, so there is certainly plenty of reason to be confident in his ability to adapt here. He’s gone long once, in that $30.320 Optional Claimer/Graded Stake that’s been mentioned a couple times already. He ended up winning that doozy of an overnight that featured two BC champions, so now we get to see these two go head to head at the level in which they should be going head to head, at. Fine, turf stake races in January are limited, but still those are the fields that make some people think certain things about other fields. In this field, Kimura looks like a good pick as long as he handles his starting spot alright.

Prediction: 7-6-11-2

— NS

Categories: Grade III, STAKES ARTICLES

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