Billy Joel Hopes To Stay Hot In Bowling Green

Bowling Green (Grade 2)- $250.000 Purse
SAR- For Four Year Olds and Upward
One Mile and Three Eighths on the Inner Turf
July 31, 2022

On the last day of July, a full field of twelve will head to the starting gate for the 17th running of the Bowling Green, which sends older turf horses around the inner course for eleven furlongs. The details of the race have varied throughout time, with the race being held at BEL from 2004 until 2014. It would not run in 2015, and then a year later would travel upstate to find its home at the Spa. Three year olds were allowed to participate until 2013, and the distance has twice been ten furlongs and once been a full mile and a half. Every edition that has been held here at SAR has been the same as what the conditions will be this year. Mb Stables has been successful in the race, winning four times, including the last two years. His winner last year was Trumbull Valley, a still active five year old gelding that has not been seen on the track since late May. The trainer will saddle two horses in this race, being stuck in two of the outer most posts in the starting gate. Let’s meet all of our horses now!

#1- Blue Koala (D J C Racing Stables, ridden by J Lezcano)- On the rail, this gelding will need to be a lot better than he was in his last start, where he was sixth in the Grade 3 Poker Stakes. He was given a 95 SRF for the effort, so perhaps it was a lot stronger of a race than it may seemed. For Blue Koala, it was his graded debut, and the trainer has no hesitation about given him a similar assignment here. The added three eighths of a mile could really play to his favor. Appealing to take a shot with if he gets overlooked on the odds board.

#2- Lord City (Our Athletes, ridden by K Carmouche)- In 27 starts, Lord City has been to the winners circle five times, but never a graded stake. He did win an ungraded stake at MTH ten months ago, however, but was not able to build on it. We last saw him a month ago down at BEL, and he was okay in the Grade BEL Gold Cup, finishing fourth in the race, but tired in the stretch after running on the lead. This is one furlong less, so that helps somewhat, and if Our Athletes can get him to hold his speed just a little longer (or try another strategy), then Lord City could be a factor.

#3- Buffalo G (Nakamura Stables, ridden by M Murrill)- Since last September, this horse has been rotating wins and non-wins, but Nakamura would like to see that pattern come to an end here. Buffalo G looked good down at MTH last month, winning the Grade 3 MTH Stakes, and will get a little more of a test here. This will be the longest that he has ever run, with the closest to it being the Grade 2 San Marcos from late January at SA. He was fourth there, but his race line looks a little flat. If he can run the same kind of style as he did in the MTH Stakes, it may be his best chance to win here.

#4- Winter Solstice (John Henry, ridden by A Cedillo)- The seven year old gelding will be looking to pick up his first win of 2022. He would also be able to eclipse the $3,000.000 mark in earnings with a solid finish here. Though he has not won, with a little more luck this year, he could have won twice. Back in March at the Grade 2 Diarmida, he was second and within a length of the win. He also comes off a solid effort in the Grade 1 Manhattan last month. Though he was about two lengths behind, it was against strong company. Finished third in the Bowling Green back in 2020.

#5- Afterburner (Arindel, ridden by J S Rocco Jr)- Picked up in private sales from Fractions for $500.000 in February 2021, and has made eighteen starts for Arindel since then. He’s managed one win, and while his earnings over that time are about $500.000, there are plenty of entry fees along the way to make it not profitable as of now. Maybe he is beginning to turn the corner, though, as he has hit the board in four of his last five races, including third last month at SA in the San Juan Capistrano.

#6- Billy Joel (La Canada Racehorses, ridden by R M Hernandez)- This horse is becoming as ageless as his namesake’s music and has now made over $3,500.000 over his career. Winning the BC Turf in 2020 is what he will be most known for, but in no way is he slowing down as he was won his last two races. In April, he took home the Grade 3 Louisville, and then a month later, he would win the Grade 3 San Juan Capistrano. Each race earned him a triple digit SRF. You could make the case that he is not being entered in Grade 1’s anymore, so maybe that is a sign, but the trainer knows his horse the best, and is getting good results. Still, if he hits the board here, how about the Sword Dancer next month?

#7- French Style (Royalty Stables, ridden by C J Hernandez)- At the beginning of the year, Royalty Stables picked this one up in private sales from Maxmillion Farm for $255.000. Since then, he has made five starts, and even though he was coming out of a win in the Grade 3 HOL Turf Cup, three of those five races have been allowances. They account for his two wins in the new barn. Almost got a win in the Grade 2 Pan American, but settled for second behind Key Biscayne that day. Seems to be at his best when on the lead at the start.

#8- Two In The Chamber (TwinTowersRacing, ridden by J R Velazquez)- 2022 has been a breakout year for this five year old, winning two of his five starts, and winning a stake for the first time. That race was the Grade 2 Elkhorn where he came from behind at KEE. That same strategy did not work as well in the Grade 1 Man O War three weeks later, but still he ran third. Though it did not work whatsoever last month in the Manhattan. There’s no reason to think that he can’t rebound from that.

#9- Tiger Claw (London Racing, ridden by T Gaffalione)- This gelding opened some eyes last month in the Grade 3 Arlington, coming from way off the pace, from an outside post, to just barely miss the winning Raj The Magician. Since being claimed for $37.500 in May of last year, Tiger Claw has hit the board in eight of his nine races and still cashed a fourth place check in the other. Getting more distance here than he saw in the Arlington could make him one to watch in the stretch again if the trainer employs the same strategy.

#10- Never Met Me (Mb Stables, ridden by L Saez)- There has been a lot of discussion in the form today about the post draws, and Mb Stables made a mention of how he has not been getting much luck with them of late. Certainly, the Bowling Green was some fuel for that fire, but we also saw that in the WO Oaks last week, he knows how to make outside posts work. Never Met Me will be looking for his tenth career win here, and has been first or second in every non-BC race that he has been in for over a year. That stretch includes winning the Pattison, and also being second in his last start, the San Juan Capistrano. Look for him to be on or near the lead early.

#11- Lets Do It Big Boy (RNP Stables, ridden by J C Ferrer)- This eight year old gelding will be making the 62nd start of his career. He’s won twelve of them, with twelve more runner ups, all leading to a little more than $2,500.000 in earnings. Other than the Pegasus World Cup Turf to start this year, Lets Do It Big Boy has been in the top four in every 2022 start, and has a win in the FG Stakes. In that, he defeated last year’s Bowling Green winner, Trumbull Valley, as well as La Terrifiant, who decided to take on the boys. Ran fifth in the Bowling Green last year.

#12- Rotarian (Mb Stables, ridden by Ru Silvera)- The second entry from Mb Stables will need to make due from the outside post. Early in his three year old season, he took part in a couple KYD preps, but that would never go anywhere. Though in his defense, he was entered in them before ever breaking his maiden. Eventually he was able to do that in conventional fashion. In March of this year, he was moved to the grass for the first time, and won an allowance on soft going but then impressed six weeks later by placing second in the Man O War. Was unable to follow that up a race later, however.

Prediction: 6-10-3-9

— NS

Categories: Grade II, STAKES ARTICLES

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