The Pitcher Stakes (Grade 3)- $400.000 Purse
MTH- For Fillies and Mares Three Years Old and Upward
One Mile and One Sixteenth on the Dirt
July 23, 2022
On paper, the Pitcher Stakes is a Grade 3, but there is nothing “Grade 3″ about the $400.000 purse that it offers and the quality of the horses that will be running in the race. We will see a showdown between Z Command and Fashionable, with five others who are very capable of knocking them off and stealing the show. This includes that reigning winner of the race, Miss Steel Mazula, who seeks to defend her crown. It’s part of the undercard for the Haskell, and will provide plenty of excitement as the build up to the day’s featured race continues. The race first appeared on the schedule in 2006, and has never been run for $400.000 (or higher) before. Let’s take a look at our field!
#1- Miss Steel Mazula (Nakamura Stables, ridden by E J Wilson)- Took home the victory in the Pitcher Stakes last year and would continue to have a strong SAR meet, winning the Personal Ensign a race later. She’d collect a fourth place check in the BC Distaff, and has continued to run well into her five year old season, hitting the board in all five her starts, with two wins. Carrasco will no longer have the ride, but E J Wilson led her to a third place result at the Grade 1 Phipps at BEL last month.
#2- Last Call (YME Stable, ridden by V Espinoza)- This three year old has not made much of an impact on the scene yet, but that is just because she has made only six starts. She’s won half of them, including a $134.000 N2X allowance at CD in her last start. Her graded stake performances are not the highlight of her record, but she does have a smaller ungraded win to her credit earlier in her career. If she wants to make an impact, topping Fashionable and Z Command would certainly get everyone’s attention.
#3- Foregone Conclusion (D J C Racing Stables, ridden by M Franco)- Over her 24 race career, the Que Niagra has scattered four victories, but has not been able to win one of the big races that she has been entered in. From time to time, she’s been close at the graded level, including the Eight Belles in 2021, but she’s been most successful in overnights. She’s mostly been a sprinter for her career, and doesn’t really have impressive numbers going long, but maybe today will be the day.
#4- Lassitude (TwinTowersRacing, ridden by J R Velazquez)- This May, she won this year’s version of the Eight Belles at CD for what was her second career victory. While she has been successful, she is also an inconsistent type of horse. Doesn’t usually have bad races, but makes more of a habit of finishing somewhere in the middle of the field, as was the case in her last start, the Acorn. Certainly capable of pulling this off if that Eight Belles side of her shows up, but it’s the type of horse I have hard time putting money on.
#5- Fashionable (Mb Stables, ridden by L Saez)- In her last start, Fashionable gave us something else to talk about other than being a filly that won the Pegasus World Cup. That of course, is very impressive, but that’s not where the story of her 2022 ends. She would go on to finish second in both the Azeri and the La Troienne before going on to win the Grade 1 Phipps in her last start. Z Command and Miss Steel Mazula were two of the horses she beat that day, so naturally if she did it before, she can do it again.
#6- Z Command (Smokey Stover, ridden by A Cedillo)- Last week, Smokey Stover picked up a big win up at SAR in the Diana with La Terrifiant and now will unleash his other elite female in the form of Z Command. It will be the 39th career start for the six year old, and she will be hoping to pick up her second win of 2022 but she has still been running well. Last month, she was only a length behind Fashionable in the Phipps and certainly she can reverse that script here. Her win this year was at SA in the Santa Margarita (Grade 2) in late April.
#7- Ponderosa (Smokey Stover, ridden by E Jaramillo)- For most of her career, Ponderosa was a successful horse in overnights, routinely hitting the board. In April, she was given the chance to run at the graded level for the first time, and quite a challenge was given for it, in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom. She was up for it, and placed fourth. Her last start saw her get her first graded victory, coming in the Grade 2 Bed O Roses at BEL. Ponderosa has never finished outside of the top four for her entire career, and I’m not picking that to happen for the first time here.