Photo by NYRA/Coglianese Photos/Chelsea Durand
Earlier today, Goldikova, Good Night Shirt, Javier Castellano, Victor Espinoza, Garrett Gomez, Thomas Voss, Matt Winn, Ogden Mills Phipps, and John Gaines were inducted into the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs. This afternoon, Saratoga racetrack will commemorate the ceremony with the running of the $200,000 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes (gr. II), an 8.5-furlong turf race for three-year-olds.
Ten horses were entered, although one–Caviar Czar–was entered for the main track only and has been scratched, leaving a field of nine to face the starter. The morning line favorite at 5-2 is the unbeaten Bricks and Mortar, and while his speed figures might not be quite as strong as those of his rivals, I think he’s clearly the horse to beat and might be something special.
Trained by Chad Brown, the son of Giant’s Causeway made his debut in February at Gulfstream Park, unleashing a powerful late run to win an 8.5-furlong maiden special weight on the turf by 1 3/4 lengths. Among his beaten rivals were three next-out winners, including fellow National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes contender Secretary At War.
Bricks and Mortar missed some training time after that race, but got back on a steady work schedule in early May and returned to action in a one-mile allowance race at Belmont Park on June 9th. Showing a bit more early speed than in his debut, Bricks and Mortar settled a couple of lengths off the early pace before accelerating strongly in the final quarter-mile to win by three-quarters of a length while running the final quarter-mile in about :22 flat, an excellent time.
However, the best was still to come. Bricks and Mortar made his stakes debut in the one-mile Manila Stakes at Belmont on July 4th, and after settling in last pace through modest early fractions, victory seemed unlikely. He was still in last place as the field turned for home, five lengths behind the leaders, but Bricks and Mortar unleashed a tremendous surge in the homestretch to get up and win by a neck while running the final quarter-mile in about :21 2/5!
That kind of turn-of-foot is the mark of a very good horse, and while Bricks and Mortar’s BRIS speed figures aren’t eye-catching–he earned a career-best 88 in the Manila Stakes, whereas most of his rivals have earned figures in at least the low 90s–but his increasing Late Pace figures of 92, 97, and 98 compare favorably with the other contenders, and I suspect Bricks and Mortar may enjoy the switch to the Mellon Turf Course at Saratoga, which should be a little slower (and perhaps more suitable for his late-running style) than Belmont Park. This looks like the perfect opportunity for Bricks and Mortar to pick up a graded stakes win while keeping his unbeaten record intact.
Others to consider include Big Handsome, runner-up to Bricks and Mortar in the Manila Stakes; Yoshida, the James W. Murphy Stakes winner who cuts back in distance off a fifth-place finish in the 10-furlong Belmont Derby (gr. I); and Snap Decision, impressive winner of an 8.5-furlong allowance race at Belmont on July 3rd. But if you’re looking for a live longshot, I would consider Makarios, who is 20-1 on the morning line. Trained by Nick Zito, Makarios was compromised by slow paces in both the Pennine Ridge Stakes (gr. III) and the Belmont Derby (gr. I), but had previously sandwiched solid maiden and allowance wins around a third-place finish in the Transylvania Stakes (gr. III) at Keeneland. He’s another colt that could benefit from the switch to Saratoga, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him rally late to a secure a spot in the superfecta at a big price.
Full-card selections for every racing day at Saratoga are available for free this summer at Brisnet.com. Enjoy the races, everyone!
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