The Westchester (Grade 3)- $200.000 Purse
BEL- For Four Year Olds and Upward
One Mile on the Dirt
May 2, 2020
There is plenty of good racing going on throughout the virtual nation on Saturday, and BEL is no exception. The Westchester is a Grade 3 event for older horses, sending them a mile around the main track and a good field has assembled for it. Looking at the stables that have won this race in the past, we see more variety then we typically see, and the most successful trainer in the race was Jpe Stable. They would win the race in 2010 with Wheres Jed, and in 2012 with Naturaliste. That stable has not been active for over three years, but in this race their legacy will live on as they are the only trainer to have won the race twice. There are a few trainers in this race that will have a chance to win their second, and that includes Mb Stables, who was the winner last year with Oklahoma. That gelding is still active, though no longer with Mb, and did win an open allowance in his last start at TUP, so that’s something anyway. For this race, we will have a field of nine that seems very evenly matched. Let’s take a look!
#1- Juice Mixer (Nolespan Racing, ridden by J R Martinez)- This horse points to one of the problems with running at BEL on KYD day: many good jockeys are gone. Juice Mixer will have to have an 8% jockey in the saddle, and that adds to the difficulty for this horse. It is his second race with the trainer since being claimed for $45.000, and Nolespan is obviously very high on him. Has not had a public work while with the new trainer, which is pretty interesting. Tough to pick him here, due to the jockey disadvantage.
#2- Ferocious Gaze (Tiratzo, ridden by H R Diaz Jr)- Here we have another jockey not usually seen in running graded stakes at BEL. Diaz is 0-for-18 at the track so far this year, though he is a 9% jockey. In 20 starts, this gelding by Ferro has won six times, and none of them have been in any of his graded attempts, which have been scattered throughout his career. His last start, placing fourth out of five in an open allowance is uninspiring, but he could simply be an inconsistent type. Being moved up off of that shows that the trainer is not worried about that result happening again. Very tempting if that race is indeed a throw out.
#3- Deceptive Speed (D J C Racing Stables, ridden by J L Ortiz)- A horse that shows something interesting, and this trainer is always one of the good ones to do it. That is, a strong commitment to running in statebreds. Deceptive Speed ran the first thirteen races of his career with the FL-bred condition, and won the SSM Sprint last January. That was his last statebred, and after his unrestricted debut saw him run fifth in an optional claimer, he was gelded the next day. Tough love! Ran a little better in a similar race a month later. Now, he’s in a graded race for the first time, but maybe more importantly, this is his first relevant time running this distance. He did run a mile in his debut.
#4- Devilish Details (Mb Stables, ridden by M Franco)- The trainer hopes to win his second straight Westchester, and pins those chances on this gelding moving back to the main track. Just four of his 18 starts have been on the dirt, and none since an August run in the Pacific Classic. It did allow him to run in the BC Mile, where he was fourth; and he comes off another fourth place run in the Makers Mark Mile, a Grade 1 at KEE. A nice looking work at AQU suggests he is ready to roll here on the dirt, and he is hard to overlook in this field.
#5- Saturday Khartoum (Rousee, ridden by J Rosario)- This veteran horse has done a lot of great things over the course of his career, but a lot of that was when he was a three and a four year old. He has been on a winless streak for a while now, with that last victory occurring in October of 2018 in the Grade 3 Bold Ruler Handicap. He was very good that day, so it is a surprise that he has not won since. It as not as if his form has completely gone south as he has been competitive in many races, and that includes recently. However, Rousee shakes things up slightly by having him run a mile for the first time since December 2018, when he was second in a photo in the Grade 1 Cigar Handicap. It’s an evenly matched field, but one that he is very able to get a win in.
#6- Charleys Glance (Maxmillion Farm, ridden by E Cancel)- Here’s another horse that is moving form the turf to the main track, though it has not been as long for him. He last ran on the dirt in December in the Cigar Handicap, where he ran 11th in the same race that Saturday Khartoum missed the win by a head. He was only off by three lengths, though. His prior dirt start was the PA Derby, where he ran 10th. Those are much better races, obviously, but those results are not encouraging to an outsider. What does look good is a work at SA recently, so maybe he can get it done here and that’s enough to make him one of my picks.
#7- Eastern General (Chili King Stable, ridden by M Luzzi)- It will be the 47th career start for this seven year old gelding, and during that time he was won 18 races. The most recent of those wins was just two starts ago, taking a $50.000 ungraded stake at GP. He is a definite veteran at this distance and the surface, so some of the concerns that are present for others are not a factor for him. His lone graded attempt was in the summer of last year at DMR, and he did not run well, but gets his second chance here.
#8- Storming (Fractious, ridden by J J Castellano)- The colt by Scott The Great arrived with the trainer last year for $225.000 in private sales, and so far that is an investment that has not paid off. He is winless in four starts with Fractious, and that includes two dismal out of the money finishes. Most recently, he was seen at GP in the Grade 3 Hals Hope, and had an all around flat performance, leading to a ninth place finish. He’ll like this distance more then the nine he ran that day, but he is still a hard horse to be excited about.
#9- Ice Wall (RNP Stables, ridden by J Alavardo)- Makes his 25th start here, and hopes that it will result in his ninth win. Most of the wins were in claimers, and he did have a good run in PRX claimers in 2018. He arrived in his new barn, via a claim, in October of last year, and RNP Stables put him into a Claiming Crown race that he would win. He’s tried a couple graded stakes since, and was second in the Grade 3 Challenger Stakes at TAM two starts back. Bear in mind that he races here just three weeks since his last start, an optional claiming win.