Retaliate Looks to Stay Scorching Hot in Gallant Bob

Gallant Bob Stakes (Grade 2)- $400.000 Purse
PRX- For Three Year Olds
Six Furlongs on the Dirt
September 23, 2023

There’s plenty of incentive for sprinters to make their way to PRX on Saturday, as the 17th running of the Gallant Bob Stakes takes place. This race has not always had the prestige as it now does, beginning as an ungraded race for a $150.000 purse. That is something that would change quickly, and it would officially become a graded race in 2013. In 2019, it would become a Grade 2, and this year will run for the highest purse it ever has, $400.000! Last year, Fractious picked up the win in the Gallant Bob with Iron Mine, and we would see him in the BC Sprint off of that. Unfortunately, he has not won since the Gallant Bob, and did not beat anyone in the BC. He’s still running at the highest of levels, though, and was last seen in the Grade 2 OBrien at DMR, where he was a non-factor. Fractious looks to have the class of the field here, as well. Here’s a look at the eleven horses going to post, but do note that as of four days out, there is a 71% chance of rain at PRX on race day.

#1- Green Flag (Spankys Barn, ridden by E Maldonado)- Up to now, Green Flag has not really made his presence felt at this level, but Spankys Barn believes that he can do so. He bought the Zakouski (an underrated sire, by the way) colt for $126.010 in the June auction, and Green Flag has only made one start since. Last month, that was in the Real Good Deal for CA-breds at DMR where he was fourth of six but only beaten half a length. Still waiting for him to have his moments, and the works say he’ll have them eventually. Perhaps, it starts here.

#2- Deep State (Sccj Stables, ridden by L Saez)- Concluded his two-year-old campaign with three consecutive wins that culminated with the $400.000 RP Springboard Mile at RP. Has not won since then, but he has still been running competitively and was third in the BG Stakes at KEE in April. Thanks to that, it was off to the KYD, where he did run in the top half of the field, and then he was mid-pack in the BEL. Last month, was third in the $250.000 ELP Derby. None of those, obviously, are sprints. That goes back to his successes as a two-year-old, and his works suggest that he won’t have an issue cutting back. Love his promise, but the bigger challenge will be handling those who are sprinting pros.

#3- Peace Pipe (Arindel, ridden by E Jaramillo)- In some ways, there are parallels between he and Deep State. Peace Pipe had a great two-year-old campaign and took part in the BC Juvenile. That was a nightmare, but at least he was there, and he recovered well enough to place fourth in the RP Springboard Mile. Won the San Vicente Stakes (Grade 2) at SA to kick off the year, but since then, Peace Pipe has not even hit the board. Last month, ran in the slop at the Jerkens Memorial and was near the back, and if we go by the weather forecast here, he may be seeing an off track again.

#4- Grammands Commands (TwinTowersRacing, ridden by J R Velazquez)- It won’t officially be the stake debut for this gelding, but it will certainly be the biggest challenge of his career. As a two-year-old, he did run in the Grade 3 Street Sense the day before Halloween but did not beat anyone and has been in overnights ever since. He struggled in them as well for a while, too, but turned the corner in May at CD when he was third in a turf route. TwinTowersRacing has had high hopes for this one, and maybe he was just a little slow to get going. It’s a test, but we know this trainer never backs down from giving them to his horses and every so often he reaps big rewards from it.

#5- Semi Auto (Threshold, ridden by Ru Silvera)- Back in September, this was a nice auction purchase for $20.220 after he struggled in the Grade 2 SAR Special. I’m surprised that he went for that small of a price, actually, and Threshold immediately got his money back in their first start together when he was second in the Grade 3 Zuma Beach Stakes at SA. Since then, he’s been very consistent, running second to Peace Pipe in the San Vicente and then cashing checks in WV-bred stakes. Last June, he ran in the Grade 1 Stephens and was disappointing, but I am willing to throw that out based on his recovery afterwards.

#6- Eastern Alliance (Threshold, ridden by A Beschizza)- This is another nice little pickup by Threshold, adding him in a $15.000 claimer at LAD. No, the horse has not done much yet, but he has shown that he knows how to win the races he’s entered in, doing so in five out of eleven and three of his last four. Yes, none of those are in races anywhere close to this but when you look at his works, especially the one at WO on the first of the month, he starts to look pretty interesting. Others in here are putting up similar, but it shows he’s capable of being just as good as these rivals then you add in the fact that he knows how to win at the end of a race. Am I going to pick him? No. Will I be surprised if he wins? No. HRP odds usually aren’t high on a horse like this when the algorithm sees the wins, but just in case they are, take a shot.

#7- Prince George (Mb Stables, ridden by P Lopez)- Just when you think that a horse like Eastern Alliance could shock this field, you get a quick reminder of the established three-year-old sprinters. Prince George is definitely one of them, and he had a very good time at SAR this summer. In July, he won the Grade 2 Amsterdam while earning a 100 SRF and following that he had one of those races that might not have been a win while not being one you worry about. On a rain-soaked day at SAR, Prince George would wind up third in the Jerkens Memorial. It’s possible he sees an off track here, and that result should make one optimistic about how he would fare.

#8- Loko Moko (South Shore Stables, ridden by F Geroux)- If “dry track only” is not checked on this one, rest assured that South Shore Stables will be watching the weather forecast very closely. Last month, he ran in the Jerkens Memorial, and he may have sunk in the slop. He was also pretty bad in his other off-track race, coming in the mud at FG for the Grade 3 Lecomte. This is not a bad horse, whatsoever. When the weather is nice, he is better (though still inconsistent), as evidenced by running second in the Amsterdam. Races like Barrera concern me a little bit, regardless of the weather, but I think the trainer figured out what went wrong there. However, he can’t keep it from raining.

#9- King Noah (Arindel, ridden by J C Ferrer)- The last time he was on this racetrack, he won the $200.000 PA Nursery Stakes in November. His other start here was his debut race, which he also won, making him a perfect two-for-two at PRX. Unfortunately, he has not been as good away from here, as he has not won another race since the PA Nursery. He’s been close though, and just two starts back, he was narrowly defeated in the Grade 3 Lang Stakes at PIM, settling for second there. Now, you might be able to say that he is looking to have some “home track advantage” over the rest of these. We know he likes it here, and will that simple fact be just that little more he has needed to win at this level?

#10- Retaliate (Fractious, ridden by M Franco)- Anyone who is thinking about the BC Sprint better be wary of Retaliate. In January, he was a $20.000 claim for Fractious, and that has definitely been one of the top claims of 2023 by anyone. He wasn’t given a big test right away, but when he was, it came in the $175.000 Maxfield Stakes at CD, where he won. If you wanted to see him do that against greater competition, you got more than you were asking for in his next two races. Later in July, he went to DMR and ended up winning the Grade 1 Crosby, and following that, it was off to SAR for the Jerkens Memorial. Was the rain going to bother him? Hardly! As he went on to win that as well, scoring an impressive double with SRF’s of 103 and 101. The works are great, and he can handle a monsoon if it were to come. I’m looking for something to possibly be a downside with him and can’t find it (not worried about this post, either). This gelding by Just Missed isn’t missing anything.

#11- Shark Cage (Pan Farms, ridden by M E Smith)- This is our most lightly raced horse in the field, as it will be just his seventh career start as well as his stake debut. He gets the chance thanks to winning a $92.000 N1X allowance at SAR two months ago. I’m a little surprised that he was not given an August race, if not a smaller stake, to try to build himself into the Gallant Bob, but he’s here now, and ready to make a statement. His works are good, and his work at SAR at a mile on August 29th makes me curious how he’d be going long, but for now, he’s here. His race at CD in May will keep me from picking him right now, though.

Prediction: 10-7-6-3

— NS

Categories: Grade II, STAKES ARTICLES

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