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2023 Mahony Stakes Preview | Wesley Ward Holds Strong Hand Sunday At Saratoga
No Nay Hudson (Keeneland Photo)

2023 Mahony Stakes Preview | Wesley Ward Holds Strong Hand Sunday At Saratoga

Trainer Wesley Ward will unleash two last-out stakes winners while striving for his second victory in Sunday’s fifth running of the listed $150,000 Mahony for sophomores sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs over the Mellon turf at Saratoga Race Course.

The Mahony is slated as the final race on Sunday’s 10-race card. First post is 1:10 p.m. Eastern.  

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Ward, who won the 2021 Mahony with eventual graded stakes winner Arrest Me Red, will saddle Eye Witness for Westerberg, Mrs. John Magnier, Jonathan Poulin, Derrick Smith and Michael B. Tabor as well as Andrew Farm and For The People Racing’s No Nay Hudson.

Eye Witness, a New York-bred City of Light bay, boasts a consistent 4-3-0-1 record and will see a cutback in distance after capturing the open-company Paradise Creek on May 20 over a yielding Belmont Park inner turf going seven furlongs. This triumph came two months following a five-length victory in the six-furlong Animal Kingdom over the all-weather surface at Turfway Park.

“He’s one that we certainly know likes the soft ground,” Ward said.

Bred in the Empire State by Anlyn Farms, Eye Witness is out of the Mr. Greeley mare Gracilia, who also produced New York-bred stakes winner More Mischief. He was bought for $650,000 at the 2021 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. 

Jose Ortiz will ride Eye Witness from post 6.

No Nay Hudson enters from a come-from-behind victory in the 5 1/2-furlong William Walker on May 20 at Churchill Downs. This was the first time the bay son of No Nay Never showed late-running tactics after laying right off the pace in his previous starts, including runner-up efforts in NYRA circuit stakes in the Skidmore last August at the Spa and the Atlantic Beach in November at Aqueduct.  

“We’re going to employ similar tactics as we did at Churchill and take him back and let him come running up the lane on the outside, hopefully,” Ward said.

Bred in Ireland by RJB Bloodstock, No Nay Hudson is out of the graded stakes winning Malibu Moon mare Raw Silk.

No Nay Hudson will leave from post 5 under James Graham.

Drew’s Gold [post 10, Kendrick Carmouche] will make his turf debut for trainer James Chapman, who co-owns the Violence ridgling with Stuart Tsujimoto.

The $25,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase won his first four starts, including scores in the Jimmy Winkfield in February at Aqueduct Racetrack and the Gold Fever in May at Belmont Park. He made his last two outings in graded company, finishing a close second to the Bob Baffert-trained Arabian Lion in the Grade 1 Woody Stephens presented by Mohegan Sun in June at Belmont Park ahead of a last-out third in the Grade 2 Amsterdam on July 28 here after attending a rapid early pace set by gate-to-wire winner New York Thunder.

With Arabian Lion and New York Thunder likely to return in the seven-furlong Grade 1, $500,000 Allen H. Jerkens Memorial on August 26, Chapman decided to switch surfaces.

“I don’t want to chase those two bears again,” said Chapman, who supplemented Drew’s Gold. “I’d rather win for $150,000 – or at least have a better chance. I don’t want to make him get beat again. I want to try and win with him. Those horses outran him.

“It’s one thing to get beat the way the Baffert horse beat him and he doesn’t really know he got beat,” added Chapman. “But when that horse [New York Thunder] leaves him like that up at the quarter-pole, you have to be careful not to do that again. Especially running that hard.”

Chapman had planned for Drew’s Gold to stalk the pace in the Amsterdam but the speedy Ryvit stumbled at the break, changing the complexion of the race and Drew’s Gold ended up losing place honors by a nose to the rallying Deer District.

“He came out of that race with a little quarter-crack,” Chapman said. “As soon as I patched it, he started eating double and doing everything he did way back.”

Chapman, who gallops his own stock, said Drew’s Gold is carrying his fitness well and won’t require a breeze between starts when racing back on short rest.

“He carries my 160 pounds around. He doesn’t need to breeze in-between 16 days,” said Chapman.

Drew’s Gold should have an affinity for turf as he is out of the dual surface multiple stakes winning Vindication mare Frolic’s Revenge and is a half-sibling to American Frolic, a stakes winner on grass.

“He’s got a turf foot and his mother ran on the grass. I think he’ll fly over it,” noted Chapman, who said Drew’s Gold will run whether the race goes on turf or dirt. “All my horses at the farm get broke in western saddle and spend the first 90 days out in the fields. He’s been on the grass a lot. As [Bobby] Frankel said, ‘they’re all bred to run on the grass, some just run better on the dirt.’”

Trainer Larry Rivelli will bring Patricia’s Hope’s Uncashed [post 4, Irad Ortiz, Jr.] back to the Spa after a sharp 5 1/2 length score in an off-the-turf edition of the Quick Call presented by the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation on July 16.

The gelded Uncaptured dark bay, who will look to make his turf debut, has led from start to finish in his last four efforts. Prior to the Quick Call, he won the Golden Circle at Prairie Meadows by 8 1/2 lengths after capturing a pair of allowance triumphs at Hawthorne Race Course.

Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen will saddle Mike McCarty’s Grade 1-placed Private Creed [post 7, Joel Rosario], who seeks his first win since capturing the Indian Summer in October at Keeneland en route to a rallying third-place finish in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint.

The son of Jimmy Creed commenced his sophomore season when second in the one-mile Texas Turf Mile in January at Sam Houston and was a last out fifth behind No Nay Hudson in the William Walker.

Michael Iavarone’s Harry Time [post 1, Luis Saez] invades from South Florida for trainer Saffie Joseph, Jr.

He last raced when second beaten a head in the five-furlong Roar on May 20 at Gulfstream Park. The Irish-bred chestnut son of Harry Angel was initially campaigned overseas, where he was a first out winner last May going five furlongs at Navan.

Harry Time is out of the stakes-winning Starspangledbanner mare Silver Rainbow, whose second dam Golden Way produced Godolphin Grade 1 winners Ashkal Way and Sentiero Italia – the dam of Grade 1-winning millionaire Santin.

Rounding out a talented field are:

  • Graded stakes-placed Gaslight Dancer [post 2, Tyler Gaffalione] for trainer Mike Maker
  • Jorge Delgado-trained stakes-winner Crispy Cat [post 8, Ricardo Santana, Jr.]
  • Stakes-placed Closethegame Sugar [post 3, Jose Lezcano], who races with hind-shoes on for trainer Adam Rice
  • Maiden winner Son of a Birch [post 9, Javier Castellano] for conditioner Tom Morley