Nine Have Big Aspirations in City of Hope Mile

City Of Hope Mile (Grade 2)- $200.000 Purse
SA- For Three Year Olds and Upward
One Mile on the Turf
September 30, 2023

Next up, we’ll be taking a look at the Grade 2 City Of Hope Mile from SA. This is a turf race that runs for the 17th time, after debuting in 2005, but taking a couple years off during the previous decade. There will be nine headed to the starting gate and they will be able to provide us with an entertaining race. Last year, the City Of Hope Mile was won by Buffalo G and it was the second win in a row in the race for Nakamura Stables. He would run in the BC Mile after but was a non-factor in the race. He’s still active and putting out strong performance to this day. Nakamura will not have an entry here, so his streak will not continue. Let’s meet our runners now!

#1- Love Is War (Mb Stables, ridden by E J Zayas)- Took this one a little longer than the trainer may have liked to break his maiden, and once he did, he was sent right back out there two weeks later to run in the Grade 3 La Jolla Handicap. He beat his three opponents that day as well, then a met another small field in the Grade 2 DMR Derby and ran second there. He can’t control the field sizes, and now he is looking to take his great run of form at DMR here to SA, and you have to like a horse that is peaking right now. Is he the one to beat? No, but he will certainly be in the mix.

#2- Moonlight Special (Allinthegate, ridden by L Saez)- The six-year-old gelding will make the 30th start of his career, and hopes that it will result in his tenth win. About half of his wins came very early in his career, but he has still been running well of late, grabbing triple digit SRF’s in four of his last five races. The actual finishes in those aren’t all that great, but that is more a testament to the quality of the fields that he has been in. Expect a similar effort out of him here, though maybe with a little more luck at the end of it.

#3- Sleepy Sunday (High Voltage, ridden by J C Ferrer)- Was on a run of good form to end 2022 and start this year, but then ended up on the shelf for a while, a time period that included him being sold in the June auction for $25.010. Perhaps, he was a little rusty in his first race back, and he rebounded well from that with an optional claiming win in his last start. Each of his last four races have come on an off track, and six of his last seven. That’s quite a clip for that, actually. There is a 67% chance of showers here on Saturday as of press time. With news of his entry, that may increase to 100%.

#4- Captain Cajones (Night Rider Stables, ridden by M Franco)- It won’t be the graded debut for this six-year-old, but it’s been quite a while. He’s mostly been seen in claimers and allowances and has done well to pick up some sort of the purse in them. It took $6.000 to claim him, and after that, there was an 18-month layoff for the strong and. I’m not sure where you’d point to as his career turning point, maybe the $32.000 claimer in January, but perhaps he was just a slower developer. That said, he’s still unproven against this caliber of field.

#5- Bronze Bomber (Threshold, ridden by R A Vazquez)- If we go by speed figures alone, then Bronze Bomber could not be any more consistent than he is right now, with 101 SRF’s in his last four. That stretch has seen one victory, coming at CD in June for the Grade 3 Arlington Stakes. He’s continued to be strong and was second last month up at WO for the King Edward BC Stakes, which is the type of finish he has seen a lot of over the last year. Has cashed a check in every race since last September and is often within a length. No reason to think that trend ends here, but maybe it will be the top spot.

#6- Calling All Angels (D J C Racing Stables, ridden by P Lopez)- After struggling in the Grade 3 Winn, and not getting much consistency on the main track, the trainer moved Calling All Angels to the turf in July, running him in the $100.000 Oceanside Stakes at DMR. He would run second there and missed in a photo finish. Showing that was not a fluke he went to CNL and ran in the $500.000 Grade 2 Secretariat Stakes, and was third there, not being far off from the win. This makes him an appealing horse, as we don’t really know where his peak is on the turf just yet. Being a three-year-old gets him a three-pound weight allowance here as well.

#7- Atomic Eclipse (Spankys Barn, ridden by T Gaffalione)- Certainly no stranger to the racetrack, Atomic Eclipse embarks on his 40th career start here. Over that time, he has won ten times, with a particular liking to the Grade 3 Poker Stakes at BEL, as he has won that race each of the last two years. Most recently, he was at DMR, for another race he has been a regular at, the DMR Mile, where he was second. He seems to like running exactly a mile a little more than going a little longer, so that should make him a good contender here.

#8- Aerialist (Mb Stables, ridden by J R Velazquez)- No one in this field has made more over their careers than has Aerialist, as the Decima gelding has made over $2,200.000 over his 34-race career. Nine of them have been wins, with the 2022 KD Turf Cup going a long way to make up what he has earned thus far. Two starts later, he had another big payday, but not from a win, as he ran third in the BC Turf. In 2023, he’s been quieter, with only a win in the Grade 2 Fort Marcy on the year, which obviously there is nothing wrong with, he just seemed destined for more. Perhaps, that is still to come, as he ran third in the DMR Mile at the start of the month. Maybe he can build on that.

#9- America First (TwinTowersRacing, ridden by R M Hernandez)- This horse has not been getting it done, having last won in May 2022, and with as many tenth places finishes as he has top four finishes (two of each) since then. Showed little in his last start, the CT Classic, but he has not been a ton better on the grass, either. Two back was his best race since that win, where he was second in the $135.000 Lure from SAR, but this is not the Lure. Can that version of him show up? For him to have a shot, it must. This trainer likes giving us longshot winners, and this would certainly be one to add to that list if he came out on top.

Prediction: 5-8-6-7

— NS

Categories: Grade II, STAKES ARTICLES

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