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Mike previews the 2023 Quick Call Stakes (G3) from Saratoga, then gives his top picks & long shots. Seasoned horses No Nay Hudson & Eye Witness give their trainer Wesley Ward 2 shots at winning Sunday’s featured race, but could a recent maiden winner spring an upset? Tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!
Trainer Wesley Ward will have two chances in Eye Witness and No Nay Hudson to earn his second score in Sunday’s Grade 3, $175,000 Quick Call presented by Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation.
The Quick Call is slated as Race 9 on Sunday’s 10-race card. First post is 1:10 p.m. Eastern.
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Westerberg, Mrs. John Magnier, Jonathan Poulin, Derrick Smith and Michael B. Tabor’s dual stakes-winner Eye Witness [post 3, Jose Ortiz] has won 3-of-4 starts and enters the 5 1/2-furong Mellon turf sprint for sophomores from wins in the six-furlong Animal Kingdom in March at Turfway Park and the seven-furlong Paradise Creek on May 20 over yielding turf at Belmont Park.
Last out, he settled in fifth position under Jose Ortiz, making an early move for the lead late in the turn and staved off the late charge of Inflation Nation to win by a head. That effort came in contrast to his previous efforts earned in more prominent fashion.
“I left that up to Jose,” said Ward, who captured this event in 2021 with that year’s eventual Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint-winner Golden Pal. “He’s a very patient rider and when it comes to these kind of horses, I usually go to him or Joel Rosario. I try to fit the riding style to the horse and both of them do well for me with those type of horses.
“He rode a really good race,” added Ward. “He said he moved a little sooner than he wanted to in the race which cost him at the end, but he still held on and won so I was happy.”
The $650,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase, a half-brother to stakes-winner More Mischief, is out of the Mr. Greeley mare Gracilia, who is a half-sister to graded-stakes winner and sire Sharp Humor.
Andrew Farm and For the People Racing Stable’s No Nay Hudson [post 1, James Graham] also demonstrated new dimensions last out, closing from seventh to win the 5 1/2-furlong William Walker on May 13 at Churchill Downs with James Graham aboard for the first time.
The No Nay Never colt was piloted through five of his first six starts by Hall of Famer John Velazquez, posting prominent efforts when second in the Skidmore in August at Saratoga and third in the Indian Summer in October at Keeneland.
Ward said he wanted to try something new last out and engaged the veteran Graham, who will be in search of his first Spa score.
“I wanted to change the horse’s style,” Ward said. “So, I told him, ‘rider, you may not understand this one, but I want an Eddie D.’ That’s an old term from California where Eddie Delahoussaye used to come from way back and come with a run. So, I said to him, ‘I’ll give you one you do know – give me a Joel Rosario.’”
Graham did not disappoint, rating the talented bay off the pace before unleashing a wide run down the lane to secure a 1 1/2-length win and garner a career-best 89 Beyer Speed Figure.
“He rode a beautiful race. He eased him back there like he did and then eased him out and away he went,” Ward said.
The win resonated with Graham and on May 26 he found himself aboard Surveillance taking on the Ward-trained Bound for Nowhere with Rosario up.
“I brought Joel out to ride my old horse Bound For Nowhere at Churchill and James was on another horse in the race and he was laughing at us, pointing at Joel and then pointing at himself and pointing back at Joel like, ‘I can do it!’” said Ward, with a laugh.
Neither Surveillance nor Bound for Nowhere hit the board that day, but the improving No Nay Hudson is in with a shout Sunday here and Ward said the colt has trained well, including a half-mile breeze in 48.40 on June 28 over the Keeneland dirt.
“He’s one we’re just trying to get to settle. My main exercise rider, Julio Garcia, has got the horse to relax,” Ward said. “We’re doing some nice, easy slow works and he’s got a couple races in him now. Fitness isn’t an issue. It’s just trying to get his mind to where we can get him to settle. He’s at Saratoga now and ready to go.”
The $190,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase is out of the graded-stakes winning Malibu Moon mare Raw Silk.
Paradise Farms Corp., David Staudacher, Skychai Racing and Angelo Carlesimo’s graded-stakes placed Gaslight Dancer [post 10, Tyler Gaffalione] finished third as the mutuel favorite in the William Walker.
Trained by Mike Maker, the City of Light bay was a close second to Nagirroc in the Grade 3 Futurity in October at Belmont at the Big A. He followed with a sixth-place finish in the one-mile Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf in November at Keeneland when defeated just 3 3/4-lengths by the victorious Victoria Road.
He entered the William Walker from a 1 1/2-length score in the Palisades on April 16 traveling 5 1/2-furlongs over good Keeneland turf.
The $260,000 OBS Spring Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training purchase is out of the Medaglia d’Oro mare Raindrops Droptops, who is a half-sister to graded-stakes winner Summer Raven.
Trainer Larry Rivelli will send out Patricia’s Hope’s stakes-winner Uncashed [post 9, Irad Ortiz, Jr.] for his turf debut.
The Florida-bred Uncaptured bay sports a record of 5-4-1-0 led by a last-out romp in the six-furlong Golden Circle at Prairie Meadows. He was purchased privately from a winning debut in September at Louisiana Downs for breeder Nicksar Farms. Uncashed drifted to finish second on debut for current connections in October at Hawthorne, but returned to win his first two starts this year over the same course.
Rounding out a competitive field are:
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