The Grade II Brooklyn Handicap is the older male equivalent to the Belmont Stakes. This year’s event is Race 10 on Friday and features a field of 12 horses to compete for purse money of $200k.
Hailstone (City Zip x Weekend Storm by Storm Bird): Has to be considered an unknown in his first dirt race given a strong pedigree for the surface. The bay Robert Ribaudo pupil has run on well for on the board finishes against top turf competition. He owns an advantage over much of the field because he has raced at this distance twice on turf and finished well. Jockey Joe Rocco is likely to take back and make one late run.
Not Abroad (Not For Love x Timely Broad by Broad Brush): Overnight stakes winner will be making his first start for Kathy Ritvo. He ran a nice figure in his first race of the year to beat Win Willy and Malibu Glow. It will take a superior effort for him to win, but that isn’t out of the question. Nick Petro keeps the mount.
Eye On Jacob (A.P. Indy x Escena by Strawberry Road): Put a line through those synthetic races from last year. He has proved to be much better on dirt since moving to the east coast. I watched him in the paddock of his last race and he looked like a million bucks. He ran like it too, drawing off by seven and one part of a length. Distance shouldn’t be an issue and the price should be square. John Velazquez rides for Todd Pletcher.
Birdrun (Birdstone x Run Like Martha by Jolie’s Halo): Defending champ has tailed off in form recently, but given his status as a top “ultra” router he must still be considered. He is a perfect two for two going this distance and would probably be a Breeders’ Cup Marathon winner if that race wasn’t two furlongs further than today’s distance. In last year’s race he sent Drosselmeyer packing and that one would go on to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic. His most recent effort saw him finish nine and three parts of a length behind Redeemed. That one is entered here as well. However, that race was over a sloppy track and featured only three horses. Draw a line through it. Rajiv Maragh rides for Bill Mott.
Eldaafer (A.P. Indy x Habibti by Tabasco Cat): Winner of the inaugural Breeders’ Cup Marathon no longer appears capable of competing against top class stakes horses. The gelding failed in a $35k handicap race at Turf Paradise two races back. Diane Alvarado trains and Paco Lopez will be in the irons.
Golden Gulch (Thunder Gulch x Golden Gale by Summer Squall): This is a sneaky long shot with a real chance of winning the race. Two back he was third beaten two lengths by Saginaw, a horse that would go on to run two of the best Beyer Speed Figures thus far in 2012. Last out he was up for a three parts of a length win in a second level optional claimer over this track. The ridgling is bred to run well in this type of race and could surprise at a big price. Jose Lezcano will play pilot for trainer Eddie Kenneally.
Arthur’s Tale (Bernardini x Owsley by Harlan): It’s do or die for this colt. He showed so much promise to be second in the 2011 Wood Memorial, but injury has cost him greatly in terms of time. He has got two races in quick succession under his belt now and could be ready to fire a career best shot. Sire Bernardini is a premier route influence and broodmare Owsley was a graded stakes winner going 11 panels. He is clearly bred to love this type of race. Trainer Thomas Albertrani has attracted the hottest rider in the country, JJ Castellano to pilot the bay colt. He’s certainly got more than a puncher’s chance.
Balladry (Unbridled’s Song x Storm Song by Summer Squall): Like several others in this race, his breeding shows a ton of stamina. He ships in from Hollywood Park where he won an allowance race after a nearly three month rest. Eoin Harty trains and jockey Anna Napravnik will be in the irons.
Boxeur Des Rues (Smart Strike x Marseille Express by Carleon): Finished with some interest three back in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap. That has been his only race on dirt. He is a big time long shot, but stranger things have happened and he has given small indications that he might be ready. Mario Gutierrez rides for Doug O’Neill. They will team up on I’ll Have Another in the Belmont Stakes.
Redeemed (Include x Early Mass by Pleasant Tap): Jay Em Ess Stable colt has the best form in the race and will likely go favored. This would be the four-year-old’s second career graded stakes win as he won the Grade 3 Discovery Handicap in November. Last out he ran off by nine and three parts of a length in the Milesius Stakes where he faced just two other foes. With three wins from four starts at Belmont, his chance to win rates as good as any other horse in the race. Richard Dutrow trains and Ramon Dominguez retains the mount.
Kentucky Reign (Distorted Humor x Summerly by Summer Squall): Richard Dutrow entry really has no business in the race. He will go with blinkers on for the first time. Joel Rosario gets the call to ride.
It’s never easy to handicap mile and a half races and it gets even harder when there are 12 entrants. I’m going to tab Golden Gulch (12-1) as my top selection in a race that is wide open. Check back later for our Brooklyn Handicap & Belmont Stakes Daily Double play!