The Iselin Stakes (Grade 3)- $250.000 Purse
MTH- For Three Year Olds and Upward
One Mile and One Sixteenth on the Dirt
August 19, 2023
This Saturday at MTH, a field of six will be heading to the starting gate for the 18th running of the Iselin Stakes. This is a Grade 3 that sends three-year-olds, or older, a little over a mile on the main track. When the race first appeared on the schedule, it had a slightly longer distance, going a full nine furlongs and was also run for $250.000. For a short period of time, the purse moved up to $300.000, but it also saw a decline all the way to $100.000 from 2016 through 2018. Last year, the $250.000 amount was restored, and the race was won by Lions Reward, for Smokey Stover. He remains active, though now runs in the silks of Spankys Barn, and was last seen running fourth in the Vanderbilt Handicap at SAR a few weeks ago. Other past winners of the race include Mordred, Rancho Ruler, and Eclipse My Knowledge. Here’s a look at the six going to post this year.
#1- Set In Space (Nakamura Stables, ridden by J Loveberry)- This six-year-old Cherokee Sunset gelding was effective early in his career, and would run second in the 2020 Clark Handicap (Grade 1). However, the trainer seemed to gradually lose confidence in him, and Set In Space would hit a low point eleven months ago when he ran in a $9.600 allowance at FP. After winning that by three months, Nakamura Stables began to pick his placement up again, and he’s been back at the graded level. Six weeks ago, he ran second in the $275.000 Hanshin at CD.
#2- Papa Nature (Night Rider Stables, ridden by K Carmouche)- It’s been an inconsistent year for Papa Nature, with just one win that came in the second week of January. While running in Grade 1’s, he was decent in the Carter Handicap, but struggled in both the CD and the Foster. However, in the midst of those races he was a strong second at the Grade 2 Eclipse. If he was closer in the Grade 1’s, I would be willing to say that those were strictly because he was running against elite company, but I am not sure that is the case. I wouldn’t be surprised if he runs a big one here, he seems due for it.
#3- Ginger Clean (The Sidley Stud, ridden by I Castillo)- A veteran of the track, making 42 starts over the course of his career. Within that time, he has eleven victories, and three of them have come this year. His best victory was in June, when he captured the Grade 3 Salvator Mile right here on this racetrack, so he will be happy to be back here again. Three weeks ago, he made a great come from behind effort in the Grade 2 Seagram Cup Stakes at WO and only missed by half a length. Unfortunately for the trainer, what mattered the most there was that it was a fifth-place result.
#4- Boogaloo (London Racing, ridden by J J Castellano)- After being gelded a little more than a year ago, Boogaloo has done a great job hitting the board during his races. However, that has not meant wins. He’s done that once in the eight starts since then but has mostly been finishing second or third. His closest race was a heartbreaker at SA where he lost the head bob at the wire to some horse named Let’s Celebrate that you may have heard of. It was a 102 SRF, but he has not been able to build on that near miss of taking down a giant. Second at ELP in an open allowance last month.
#5- Genetic Code (TwinTowersRacing, ridden by E Jaramillo)- The trainer did it again last week and ended up with a winner when it didn’t seem like he would have one. Genetic Code would be pretty similar, as he has only won two of his 17 starts. and has not gotten it done at the stake level. That victory was just two back in a N3L allowance at the CT bullring, but he would be a non-factor a month later at the Hall Memorial Stakes. After a reminder that you never out anything that this trainer saddles up for a race, consider a shot at Genetic Code if the odds climb.
#6- Cheveley Park (Mo Mentum Farm, ridden by R M Hernandez)- The highest earner in the field, making just over $600.000 for his career. That’s spanning 20 starts, with six wins. In 2023, he has won half of his race (three of six) with the biggest score being the Grade 2 Pan American at GP. Unfortunately, he was not able to carry any momentum from that into the Grade 1 Man O War and was distant nine lengths back. The one-time KYD participant has gone back and forth between the turf and the dirt this year with no apparent preference one way or the other.
Prediction: 3-1-4-5 (Honestly, I could see any of these winning!)