CT Classic (Grade 2)- $1,000.000 Purse
CT- For Three Year Olds and Upward
One Mile and One Eighth on the Dirt
August 26, 2022
This Friday, the annual CT Classic will take place at everyone’s favorite bullring of a race track. It will be the 13th time that the race has been run within the game, and the best news is that the $1,000.000 purse has been restored after being dropped to $800.000 last year. Some great horses have had no problem whatsoever handling this track, with Niagra being a two time winner, doing so in 2015 and 2016. In 2016, his win came in a dead heat with another great horse of his day, A One. Commanding has scored a win here, and Mrs Bombastic beat the boys in this race as well. Looking a little more recently, Mb Stables won the CT Classic for the fourth time in 2021 with then seven year old gelding, Antonym. The horse is still active, but has struggled in his last two races, including the Suburban. This year, most of the horses are well known, though only one has surpassed $1,000.000 in earnings but a couple are close to it. There are a couple in here as well where the trainers are taking a leap of faith, but sometimes you have to do that to truly see what you have. After a scratch, we have a field of nine going to post. Here they are!
#1- Higher Drift (Asgar, ridden by Ru Silvera)- Most of his five wins came last year or at the very beginning of this one. In January, he scored his signature win, beating three others in the SSM Sprint, for FL-breds, at GP. He followed that up well by running third in the Grade 3 GP Sprint Championship and after that began to run long. The results he has had albeit against elite company, do not excite. I have to see something to convince me that he wants to be going long on race day and not just in works. Maybe this will be it.
#2- Oleg (Arindel, ridden by D Moran)- Every now and then, Oleg puts together that great race. His win in the Dwyer broke a stretch of bad form, and in the winter there was some hope that maybe he was generating consistency as for the first time, he won back to back races. The latter was the Grade 3 Razorback Handicap. But since then, he’s gone back to his ways of inconsistency. At any moment, he can break out, and if he’s sitting on the board with high odds before the race, I’d take a shot just in case. This could be the type of field where he does have that break out against. Why not?
#3- Hint Of Sugar (Arindel, ridden by E Jaramillo)- Made a positive impression on the track early in his career, running second in both the Fountain of Youth and FL Derby, sending him to the KYD where he placed eighth. If I said then that in August of his four year old season he would still have never won a graded stake, it wouldn’t seen right, but that’s where he is. Other than the New Orleans Handicap, where he was second, he has not been an exciting horse. That doesn’t mean he has been bad, because he hasn’t. He’s actually like his stablemate, you never know when he will bust out and run big.
#4- Boardwalk (Nakamura Stables, ridden by L Luzzi)- This is the only horse in the field that has surpassed $1,000.000 in earnings. In 26 starts, he has won seven times, but has done a good job during that time of getting some piece of the purse. That even happened back in the 2020 KYD. Since that point, he has scored some nice victories, but the best one came in the at the beginning of December in the Grade 1 Cigar Handicap. He’s hit the board in all of his race this year, but curiously, the trainer dropped him in class after that.
#5- Strange Magic (TwinTowersRacing, ridden by L Saez)- Early in his career, this Scott The Great gelding did run in some stakes, but that’s been the exception and not the norm. For the most part, he’s run in overnights and in many cases, mid to high level claimers. That’s seen him change hands a couple times, and with TwinTowersRacing, he has been able to move back into the stakes ranks. Last month, he became a graded winner by Grade 3 Dominion Day Stakes up at WO. If he builds on that, he could be one of the favorites here.
#6- Joe Grind (Night Rider Stables, ridden by J R Velazquez)- He may be a five year old gelding, but he has not raced much in his career, only doing so nine times. His career began in 2019, but raced very sparingly, then got a year and a half off before resurfacing at the track in March of this year. In April, he was gelded and in his three starts since, he has been very impressive. Potentially a great story here of grinding out a horse and being patient with them and with the way he has been running of late, why not take a shot if you can.
#7- Flip A Coin Party (Threshold, ridden by M Murrill)- An interesting entry and a gelding that has been flipped from trainer to trainer but has not earned a ton of coin yet, and has not had someone wanting to throw a party. Threshold, however, broke from the norm with this horse after picking him up in private sales for a buck and after a couple months, ran him in the SUN Handicap, which he won. That race represented the first time he had ever run long on the dirt. He’s been in starter allowances since, and run well, but gets a true test of his skill here. Perhaps, the party will be scheduled soon.
#8- Lokoya Road (Fractious, ridden by I Ortiz Jr)- It will be the graded stake debut for this Patient Command gelding, as he comes off a second place run in an open allowance, for $110.000, at SAR. That race was won by the highly accomplished Ukrainian Victory, so confidence wise may have been like a win for the trainer. He had not done much before that, so he needs to be at his best here, but don’t rule him out. Perhaps this WV-bred can get some added support here at CT.
#9- Positive Id- Scratched
#10- First Sargeant (High Voltage, ridden by M Franco)- Over 21 races, this gelding has won five times and made over $800.000 in earnings but while it’s never easy to start on the outside, this is one track where it may be more of a factor. Won two of five this year, highlighted by OP Handicap in April against very good company, so First Sargeant is certainly capable of overcoming this post. But no matter where he would be starting, he needs to reverse his form from his last two races.