Turf Monster Handicap (Grade 3)- $300.000 Purse
PRX- For Three Year Olds and Upward
Five Furlongs on the Turf
September 24, 2022
A field of seven will be going to post for the 16th running of the Turf Monster Handicap, a Grade 3 event for turf sprinters. One of them will be a two time winner of the race, as 2017 and 2018 winner, Phooeys Quest, looks to recapture former glory on this race track, and if he were to do so, he would have a different trainer for each win. The one who won the race last year was Shelbags, for Lindeman Prairie, and the gelding is still competing in high level stakes. After winning this race, Shelbags ran fifth in the BC Turf Sprint six weeks later. Are we really that close to the BC now? I guess it sneaks up on you faster when you don’t have any horses targeting it! Let’s meet our field!
#1- Phooeys Quest (Threshold, ridden by A Cedillo)- It’s cool that he’s here, but unlike when Combat Wombat won the Pacific Classic four years after winning it a previous time, Phooeys Quest is not an elite horse. Prior to this, he was in a $7.000 claimer which he did win by three lengths. That’s nice and all, but others in here were doing more a month ago. It would be a major shocker if he won this.
#2- Son of Sandston (Onlineracingclub.com, ridden by K Carmouche)- This one has been in claimers quite a bit recently as well, and was picked up by the current trainer for just $10.000 in June. Onlineracingclub.com has brought him forward since picking him up, with a couple of good runs in PA-bred races. One of those allowances was in under 56 seconds at this distance. Most recently, he was fourth in the Mr. Jenney Handicap right here on yielding turf.
#3- Thunder Canyon (Spankys Barn, ridden by D Van Dyke)- Two starts back, Thunder Canyon ran on the turf for the first time in 2 ½ years, and the trainer chose to do it in the Grade 3 Daytona Stakes at SA. After setting the pace, he was outrun in the stretch, and finished out of the money but was still within a length of the winner. A month later, he won a $134.000 allowance at CD, and has been idle since that late June victory. Not sure why, but he’ll be ready to run now.
#4- Insist Always (Mb Stables, ridden by Mario Gutierrez)- Had a strong four year old season that saw him run in the BC Mile, but he did not have a good race. It’s been a struggle for him since then, as he was dropped into an open allowance at the start of this year, which he won, but that’s been it for him in 2022 as far as wins are concerned. That said, with more luck at the wire, he may have also won the Grade 1 Jaipur at BEL in June. As good as that was, he’s last race, the $150.000 Lucky Coin, was poor. Doesn’t have many duds on his record, so he may be able to bounce back without an issue.
#5- Cover Photo (Axeman, ridden by T Gaffalione)- At the beginning of August, Cover Photo earned a victory in the $100.000 TS Turf Sprint at ELP for what would be his third straight win. Prior to that, he had a couple of open allowance victories. That’s the type of race that he has been in for most of his career, so it is good to see Cover Photo looking to take the next step here while he is hot. He’s never been lower than fourth for this career, and has only been fourth once. The other sixteen all saw a top three.
#6- Argyle (Arindel, ridden by L Saez)- This three year old gelding has four wins in fourteen races, with one of them being his last start: a $115.000 allowance at SAR. It was a great bounce back for him because just before that, in similar conditions, he was ineffective. Only been in a stake once thus far, coming in March when he was third in the $75.000 Texas Glitter.
#7- Strong Kommand (Maxmillion Farm, ridden by E Jaramillo)- Picked up by the trainer in June for a $25.000 claim, and made his debut with Maxmillion Farm last month. Now, he will make his turf debut, coming in his 23rd career start. It’s a tough field to make that debut against, but this is one of those trainers that you never doubt this kind of a move from. Hasn’t done a lot of sprinting, either, so he’s a bit of an x-factor in here.