The Baruch Handicap (Grade 3)- $200.000 Purse
SAR- For Three Year Olds and Upward
One Mile and One Sixteenth on the Inner Turf
September 5, 2022
On Monday, racing for the 2022 SAR meet will come to a close. It’s been a good one with a meet title that could potentially be decided on the last day based on the standings Saturday morning. If it does, there will be plenty of good races to decide it in, including the 18th running of the Baruch Handicap, which is a little more than a mile on the inner turf course. It will be the first year that the race runs with a Grade 3 designation, however, as it was downgraded from where it has been throughout it’s virtual history. Three year olds are allowed to participate in the race, but none has ever won it, and that will continue this year since no three’s are entered. Horses will primarily run at either 117 or 118 pounds for the race, but the veteran Banshee Star needs to run with 122. In 2021, Smokey Stover won the race with Fuji, and it’s the last time that horse won a stake though he is not done for. For this year, we will have a field of eight. Let’s take a look at them!
#1- Banshee Star (Calia Stable, ridden by I Ortiz Jr)- Congratulations to Banshee Star as he heads to the starting gate for the 60th time in his career. He’s not given a present for this milestone however, and will need to carry four to five more pounds than the rest of the field thanks to winning the Grade 3 Poker Stakes at BEL in mid-June. The victory is one of four that he has had in his last seven races, which also includes two second place finishes. These are mostly in races with very similar conditions to this one, so Calia Stable is certainly reaping the rewards of believing that he had plenty more than 48 races in him when he acquired him. It is the added weight, not his age, that will be his biggest obstacle here and that’s about the only issue that I can see.
#2- Lord City (Our Athletes, ridden by E Jaramillo)- Last time out, he ran in the Bowling Green right here, a race that is a throw out for all of its participants regardless of where they finished in it. For Lord City, that was not a good finish, and he had been on better form right before it. This included running third in the Grade 2 BEL Gold Cup in mid-June. Other than that, his track record shows a string of good finishes which suggest that he is capable of running well here, but he doesn’t have that victory yet that you point to as a signature win. Perhaps, that can come today and I would not rule it out.
#3- Eight West Party (TwinTowersRacing, ridden by T Gaffalione)- The 24th race for this Pinnacle West colt will move into the graded ranks after running in a stake for the first time in late July at WO. That was the $100.000 Niagara Stakes, where he set the pace before fading late. A little less distance figures to help with that component but he will have to have a career best here. Still shy of $100.000 in career earnings after all this time.
#4- Grayte Trois (Gdp Inc., ridden by A Cedillo)- Three weeks ago, Grayte Trois was seen here in the Grade 1 Fourstardave Handicap, and he just missed a check my finishing fifth. This is not that strong of a field in comparison, so more of the same should be enough to put him in contention. Early in his career, he won an ungraded stake, but most of these he was running in overnights with hit and miss success. His graded debut, albeit in a sprint, was not that impressive. I’m not completely convinced that Grayte Trois will be able to do “more of the same”, but it’s certainly possible.
#5- Puffman (Nakamura Stables, ridden by M Franco)- After finishing third in the $70.000 Clockers Corner, Puffman found himself sold in private sales for $75.000 to Nakamura Stables. He has raced three times in his new silks, and is still looking for his first win. Instead, the new trainer got the same result, twice, as Keikowin Racing got in the Clockers Corner: third place runs. The most recent one came last month, in the $100.000 Williams Turf Mile down at ELP. Most of his career has been sprinting, but his best results have been running a mile on the grass.
#6- Trumbull Valley (Mb Stables, ridden by J R Velazquez)- As a four year old last year, Trumbull Valley had a strong season, but he has not found that level of success in 2022. Not that it’s been bad, because he does have two victories, but each were in optional claimers. The two stakes that he has run in, he has been consistent with his finish, that is one where he is seven lengths behind the winner. This most definitely is not the Shoemaker Mile, but it’s still a quality crowd that this gelding needs to have a good finish against.
#7- Akkadian (Mb Stables, ridden by L Saez)- While he would have to race another 21 times to catch up with Banshee Star, this six year old Ginger Haggis gelding has managed a successful career. However, that’s a career is just getting started as a member of the Mb Stables fold, as the trainer picked him up for $40.000 at a BEL claimer two back. He was lethargic in that race, but bounced back well for Mb Stables as he ran on the grass for the first time, winning an ELP open allowance. We’ll see here just how overdue the surface move either was, or wasn’t.
#8- Charley Buzz (Nakamura Stables, ridden by S Elliott)- After running in the Queens Plate last year, as a non-factor, Charley Buzz was sold to Nakamura Stables in private sales for $150.000. After four months, he would make his debut with the new trainer at SA, and win an allowance, but has not been back to the winner’s circle. Turned in a couple of third place runs in ungraded stakes after the allowance, but since April, there’s not a lot to be excited about. Now, he has had a little over two months to rest and if that’s all he needs, then it will be good for him. But I also see a horse that has been through a lot of trainer’s hands and you have to wonder if frustration is a part of that.