Nijinsky Stakes (Grade 2)- $175.000 Purse
WO- For Three Years Old and Upward
One Mile and One Quarter on the Turf
July 25, 2020
Part of the schedule north of the border on Saturday will be the 15th running of the Grade 2 Nijinsky Stakes, which is a ten furlong event on the grass. Since it’s inception, the conditions of the race have changed a lot. Initially, the race was run on the main track, and after that season, it was moved to the grass, but at twelve furlongs. The distance of the race has not been consistent, and the last two years have also seen the distance be a mile and a half. However, in 2017, it was a mile and a quarter. The purse has been as high as $300.000, and eventually became $175.000 in 2017. Last year’s winner was Chayse, for Crocker Ggs, a gelding that has continued to have success. We’ll have a field of nine going to post. Let’s meet them!
#1- Shanghai (Nakamura Stables, ridden by E J Wilson)- In his 15th start, this Rene gelding made his turf debut last month at the BEL Gold Cup, at a mile and a half. It was a rain soaked day, so on yielding turf, he could only manage a fifth place finish. Nakamura would like another look at him, and is hoping for better weather, which is expected. Has one win since arriving with the trainer in the fall of last year.
#2- Long Term Investment (TwinTowersRacing, ridden by L Salles)- It took the gelding a while before breaking his maiden, with a lot of second place finishes on the way. Eventually, he was able to do so, and that touched off a stretch of four wins in five starts, all of which were on the main track. Last month, the ran in the Grade 1 Manhattan, which was not his turf debut, but was the first time on grass since April 2019.
#3- Billy Joel (La Canada Racehorses, ridden by J Lermyte)- One of my favorite singers of all time, so he will get some brownie points for that. The equine version has been very consistent, hitting the board in eight of his nine career starts, with three wins. Now, in something that is a trend with these first three horses, this is another horse used to running on the main track. For Billy Joel, it will be his first turf race. He has no public turf works to check out.
#4- Vengeful (Mb Stables, ridden by K Kimura)- We saw him here last month at the Queens Plate, and in that he would run fifth. Interestingly, with the previous three horses all with limited grass experience, Vengeful was a dedicated turf runner until trying the main track in the Queens Plate. He’s been able to win three for his career, but had never run in a stake before the last race. He’s hit the board in 11 of 12.
#5- California Chrome (Nakamura Stables, ridden by P Husbands)- Picked up from Aer Stables for $200.000 in January after running in the Grade 3 Valedictory, and placing second. Nakamura has been very patient with him, waiting until April to put him in a race, and in that, he would be back to the grass. Like others in this field, he was running most of his races on the dirt before this. That race was an open allowance, that he won, and it led to his placement in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile in late May, and he was a strong fifth there.
#6- Maniaco del Controll- Scratched
#7- Jump Shot (Mb Stables, ridden by S Ryan)- The second of the two runners here from Mb Stables, Jump Shot has won three of ten in his career. On the grass, he has been very consistent with six in the money finishes in seven starts. Those are good numbers, but to this point, he is still looking for that win that jumps out at you. He comes off a win in the $150.000 War Chant, which gets that honor for now, but it is time for his shot to jump into graded competition.
#8- The King Of Now (Night Rider Stables, ridden by G Boulanger)- He also comes out of the War Chant, and ran second to Jump Shot in that race. That is a finishing position that he has become quite accustomed too lately, finishing as the runner up in five of his last six starts. He moves into graded competition for the first time as well here, and in this race, the trainer probably would be happy with another second.
#9- Fuji (Smokey Stover, ridden by S R Bahen)- The colt by What Have You Done comes out of the Grade 1 United Nations at MTH, where he ran fourth, but still three lengths behind the winner. This race does not figure to be as strong, so that may be all it takes for him to be better here. Two starts ago, he was the winner in the Grade 3 MTH Stakes on yielding turf and overall has won four of eight in his career.
#10- Brilliant Kruz (Estero Farms, ridden by L Contreras)- Up to this point, the Hollywood Kruz gelding has not won anything more then his maiden. That came in his fifth start, at FG, which was the race after he was gelded. The trainer swung for the fences afterwards in the Grade 2 Dixie, and he was a non factor in the race. We won’t have as strong of a field here, but he will need to be better here to have a shot.