Cube Zero Aims to Defend SUN Handicap Crown

SUN Handicap ($150.000 Purse)
SUN- For Three Year Olds and Upward
One Mile and One Eighth on the Dirt
April 18, 2020

It may only be an ungraded stake, but an impressive field has turned out for this handicap that runs for just the fourth time. The majority of the horses in the race will carry 118 pounds, and the high weight for the race is at 121 pounds, so I would not anticipate weight to be a major player in this race other then for the lone horse at 121. The full field for this race is a change of pace for the race, as the prior three editions ran with five, six, and then five horses once again. Cube Zero was the winner of the race last year, doing so for Aml Racing and as the high weight in the field. Now, that gelding looks to repeat as the stake winner, and won’t even have to be a high weight! Let’s meet the field!

#1- Minutes Hand (Mb Stables, ridden by F Arrieta)- This gelding by Credit has had a steady career, with six wins in 24 starts, and hitting the board fifteen times. A lot of time has been spent in graded competition, but a win in one has eluded him, and he’s only won one of the ungraded stakes he has been in. His race last month, an allowance that he won, broke a layoff of nearly six full months, so perhaps that will really help him out.

#2- Moment In History (Pan Farms, ridden by I J Rosendo)- Pan Farms has made his latest return to the game, and has one win in twenty starts as of press time. One of them came with Moment In History last month, running fourth in the KY Cup Classic. That was a good run for a horse that was claimed for $22.500 while sprinting on the grass. He had a stunning work for that race, but his results and frequent trainer changes tells me he can be a frustrating horse to own. Perhaps Pan Farms can turn him around.

#3- Cube Zero (Aml Racing, ridden by E P Gomez)- Returning to the site of victory is something that Aml Racing hopes can turn the horse around, and he should be happy to have a pretty good spot in the starting gate for it, as it was the same post he won from last time, while carrying three more times. The jockey is different this time out with A J Juarez Jr aboard Bo Knows here instead. Since the win here, he has just one more win since, that being an allowance, but hit the board in a couple ungraded stakes here at SUN this year.

#4- La Lune Rain (T Boy Racing, ridden by M A Perez)- The six year old horse will make the 31st start of his career, and has done well since arriving with T Boy Racing following a $70.000 private sale. He is best known for appearing in some well known races as a three year old, but as continued to be a steady producer in his older age, and does not usually have two bad starts in a row. That’s a good thing for T Boy, because his last start was subpar.

#5- Bo Knows (John Henry, ridden by A J Juarez Jr)- The jockey will look to win this race for the second year in a row, but will not ride Cube Zero to do that. Bo Knows was an exciting horse as a two year old, and early into his three year old season, but fell off the radar after a dud in the PRK. He’s taken on lower competition with John Henry, and that has allowed him to get back near the front of the field. Did not have a successful return to the stake level (after the Whitney) in his last start, here in the Curribot Handicap, and that concerns me greatly because many in here come out of the race. If the trainer knows why it happens and is convinced it wil not happen again, then I would feel a lot better.

#6- Dream Controlled (Mb Stables, ridden by R Chirinos)- The winner of the BEL in 2018 finished that year off successfully, and has become a solid second or third tier horse with Mb Stables, running well in smaller graded stakes or in open allowances. This is a good spot for him, but he must be better then he was in his last race, the $100.000 Tiznow for CA-breds at SA, or else he could disappoint those that wager on him here.

#7- Flamenco Beach (Alydar Stables, ridden by M T Fuentes Jr)- A horse that knows how to win, doing so in ten of 23 career starts. Highlights include winning the Grade 3 WV Governors Stakes and running second in the Grade 1 Woodward, each in 2018. The level of competition has tailed off, but he is still winning races, winning the $65.000 Lad Handicap in February right here, but could not step up into graded company last month. I think this was a good spot to run him in, but the field is stronger then would have been expected. Could get a piece of this, but I don’t think he comes out on top.

#8- Hollywood Ballet (Nakamura Stables, ridden by K S Tohill)- It has been a struggle for the jockey thus far, winning just one of 47 races so far. This might be the biggest obstacle for Hollywood Ballet, since the importance of jockeys in this game is well documented. This is the 43rd race of the seven year old’s career, and he too has run in much better earlier in his career. He’s remained steady though, and comes off a third place run in the $75.000 Curribot Handicap, getting his photo taken with the winner (Arisen, who sees again), here last month. K S Tohill did ride that day.

#9- Hemi Powered (Nakamura Stables, ridden by L A Fuentes)- He may have a Hemi, but he does not have the resume of his stablemate in the post next door. That might not matter, as he has done very well after being claimed for $20.000 from Fractious, with Nakamura changing up his adds and getting a pair of second place finishes. His works are excellent, so there is plenty of good reason to throw support his way.

#10- Arisen (The Nuyorican Stable, ridden by L Negron)- This veteran five year old gelding by former BC Champion Ashkalani will be making the 29th start of his career and hopes to duplicate his success in this last start. That was a win in the $75.000 Curribot Handicap, right here last month, against several he sees again. He did so as a 30/1 longshot. In this race, he has carry two more pounds, so that is worth noting. My impression of him is that he does not carry weight as well as others, and that can make a difference here. We’ll see.

#11- Brady Is A Lady (Sharis Stables, ridden by R Eikleberry)- This will be the highweight in the field. Will 121 pounds make that much a difference, though? For a horse of his caliber, I do not think so, but the starting post is certainly a concern. It seems to be as though he carries weight a lot better then the impression I get of Arisen. As for the post, he started from the #11 hole two starts ago, and may have had to fight the outside push in the process, and still ran second in the Grade 2 San Pasqual against some big names. I wish he would have followed it up better in the New Orleans Handicap last month, but he wasn’t bad there, either. I think he gets it done.

#12- Cheviots (The Sidley Stud, ridden by B S Laviolette)- On the outside, this lone three year old in the field seems to be in a tough spot especially considering that he does not get any kind of weight allowance for his age, plus this post. He’s won four of ten, and returned to the main track well in his last start. If this field were smaller, then maybe it could happen, but I will have my doubts. The horse is fine, the conditions don’t seem right for him.

Prediction: 11-3-9-6

— NS

Categories: NG Stakes, STAKES ARTICLES

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