The Razorback Handicap (Grade 3)- $600.000 Purse
OP- For Four Year Olds and Upward
One Mile and One Sixteenth on the Dirt
February 12, 2022
The Razorback Handicap may only be classified as a Grade 3, but there is no race this weekend that has a bigger purse than the $600.000 it has to be split amongst the top four finishers. This has led to a nearly full gate, as a field of thirteen will take part in the race. This is the 17th time that it will run within the game, and the second time that the purse is this high. Weights are varied for the race, with the five low weights carrying 116, and the lone high weight with his hands full carrying a weight of 123. Most are between 116 and 118 in this regard. Last year, the winner of the race was Night Creature, for D J C Racing Stables, who went on to have a productive 2021 and raced a couple weeks ago in the Pegasus World Cup. Let’s meet those who seek to become the next winner of the race!
#1- Home Spirit (Night Rider Stables, ridden by E J Zayas)- This one is towards the high end of the weight carrying spectrum, as 120 will be the weight carried here. If he does not have a problem with that, then his chances seem pretty good for the race given his three consecutive triple digit SRF’s leading into the stake. He won the Seagram Cup Stakes, and with a little more luck at the wire, he also could have had wins in the Grade 1 Awesome Again and Grade 1 Clark Handicap. He’s well rested coming in, so for him it really is all about how handles his weight disadvantage.
#2- Dime Defense (Asgar, ridden by A Beschizza)- Raced nine times last year as a three year old, and did earn three wins, but none of them were in the biggest races that he ran in. He made two graded stake tries, and none since placing fourth in the Jerkens Memorial at SAR in late August. After a couple off the board finishes, he won an allowance at GP last month, and will try this level again with some renewed confidence.
#3- Eagle Mountain (Mb Stables, ridden by N Juarez)- Has not raced since the middle of August, and other than trying the Hopeful as a two year old, Eagle Mountain has not run in a graded stake. It’s not uncommon to see this in a race and for the horse to end up doing well, but I don’t often see it from Mb Stables. The benefit is that gets the gelding a low weight and he worked very well at AQU in preparation.
#4- Tempestuous (Mb Stables, ridden by D Moran)- Running beside his stablemate, Tempestuous has also not been in a stake since his two year old season but does not have the same type of layoff. Last year, things went well for him, finishing either first or second in six of his seven starts, predominantly in high level optional claimers. Despite that, he did not get another stake chance until now. I guess the trainer has plenty of options in regards to filling these races.
#5- Crimson Dragon (TwinTowersRacing, ridden by D Van Dyke)- Split his season last year running on both the dirt and the turf, and ended up winning three of nine races. That includes his last two, as he seems to be reacting very well to the addition of blinkers. In December, he was victorious in the $125.000 Queens County Handicap, earning a 99 SRF in the process. He’s only carrying 117 pounds in this race, so this is a great spot for him as we see if he can take another step forward.
#6- Funny Cide (Iolaus Racing, ridden by Ru SIlvera)- A winner of his last two races as well, and he also comes off a stake win, capturing the $100.000 Robb Stakes at AQU on New Years Eve. Overall, he has wins in four of his last six, with a couple of ugly lines in top races in between. He’ll get another chance here to show that he can step it up when running in the graded ranks.
#7- Hang Around (Nakamura Stables, ridden by J A Gomez)- Here is the one that will carrying 123 pounds, so in a race with that much of a disadvantage to the majority of the field, there is really nothing else to look at. Can he overcome that? Like the two to his inside, he is currently on a two race winning streak, with two graded wins. The Grade 2 Autumn Stakes at WO in November was his most recent triumph, so he is on about 90 days even when it comes to the last time he was on the track.
#8- Crimson Rioja (Mo Mentum Farm, ridden by J Bravo)- Last month, this gelding by Royal Crimson Cat (who, by the way, has two horses in this field, though not all three of the Crimsons) romped a starter allowance field, winning by four lengths at SA. It was a good bounce back for him, coming a month after running fifth in the Queens County Handicap. He has gone back and forth between the dirt and turf, with good results on both surfaces.
#9- He Needs A Manzillian (Mo Mentum Farm, ridden by J Lezcano) Here is another horse in the field that ran in the Queens County Handicap, but he did not do it for Mo Mentum Farm. He was second that day to Crimson Dragon, though would be sold six days later by Jive Inc. Debuted very well for Mo Mentum Farm last month at AQU, taking the $100.000 Jazil. With more of the same, he should have a great chance in here.
#10- Mintmach (Nakamura Stables, ridden by S Ryan)- Picked up by the trainer with a $35.000 claim in October. That race was quite a drop after having been in the SA Handicap (Grade 1) in the race prior. While that was not a good race for him, he did win the San Pasqual Stakes right before. Mintmach got his feet wet with Nakamura Stables last month in an open allowance, and won by four. Can he find old form here? We will soon see.
#11- Crimson Sun (Royaly Stables, ridden by Mar Garcia)- Our third horse with Crimson in its name, but not because is by Royal Crimson Cat. Though he is out of a Red Kitten. He was also a very good claim in September, acquired by the trainer for just $6.500 in another case of a trainer probably thinking a horse had seen its better days. He’d win an allowance at KEE, then placed fourth in the Kennedy Road Stakes. He hasn’t seen a field like this since 2019.
#12- Oleg (Arindel, ridden by R Gutierrez)- It seems like I cover this horse on a race by race basis, though I would not have seen his last start since that was just an optional claimer. It was a big race for him, going wire to wire in victory two months ago. He’s madly inconsistent, but can pop out a good race at any time. It’s been a while since he has done that in two consecutive starts, so I have a hard time thinking that changes but am interested to see if the trainer uses the same tactic again and how it might fare.
#13- Jumbo Bite (Nakamura Stables, ridden by J K Court)- Drawing the outside gate will be the winner of the Grade 1 Clark Handicap in late November. He has not raced since then, so this will be the gelding’s five year old debut. 2021 was great for Jumbo Bite, though the Clark Handicap played a big part of that as it one of this two wins, but he did hit the board six times. Carries 119 pounds, so much more reasonable than what Hang Around will have to deal with.