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Mike previews the 2022 West Point Handicap at Saratoga, then gives his top picks and longshots. The feature event on the Friday before Travers Stakes Day is a tough stakes route for older New York-breds, where defending champion City Man is favored after beating open company in the Forbidden Apple Stakes (G3) at Belmont Park. Tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!
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Three graded stakes winners will clash in the 1 1/16-mile $200,000 West Point Handicap presented by Trustco Bank [Race 10] for 3-year-olds and up on the Mellon turf, led by Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Peter Searles and Patty Searle’s City Man [post 5, Joel Rosario] for conditioner Christophe Clement.
A dark bay son of Mucho Macho Man, City Man made the grade last out with a rallying 2 3/4-length score in the Grade 3 Forbidden Apple going one mile on July 15 at the Spa. City Man has shown good form throughout the year, beginning with a 2 1/4-length victory in the Danger’s Hour in April at the Big A to end a four-month layoff. Though well-beaten next out in the Grade 2 Fort Marcy contested over yielding turf, he was defeated just 4 1/4 lengths in the Kingston this spring at Belmont before his Forbidden Apple score.
Bred by Moonstar Farm, the 5-year-old City Man looks to defend his title in this race after he scored in a dramatic photo finish last year by a nose over stablemate and returning rival Therapist [post 1, Irad Ortiz, Jr.]. City Man also won Saratoga’s Funny Cide as a juvenile and Aqueduct’s Gio Ponti as a sophomore.
Trainer Mike Maker sends out the two other graded winners in the field in Cross Border [post 7, Luis Saez] and Somelikeithotbrown [post 3, Tyler Gaffalione]. Cross Border, bred by Berkshire Stud and B.B. Gibbs and winner of the Spa’s Grade 2 Bowling Green in 2020 and 2021, arrives from a fifth-place finish in attempt of a third title defense in that event on July 31. The son of English Channel was a close fifth in the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational earlier this year, a race he finished third in last year.
Somelikeithotbrown, bred by Hot Pink Stables and Sand Dollar Stables, won the Grade 2 Dinner Party last May at Pimlico Race Course, the 2020 Grade 2 Bernard Baruch Handicap at Saratoga, and the 2019 Grade 2 Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway Park. The 6-year-old Big Brown bay finished a hard-trying third in the Jonathan B. Schuster Memorial in July at Horseshoe Indianapolis before an even sixth in the Fasig-Tipton Lure on August 6 here.
Completing the field are Jerry the Nipper [post 2, Jose Lezcano], Sanctuary City [post 4, John Velazquez], Lord Flintshire [post 6, Manny Franco], Action Jackson [post 8, Flavien Prat], and Ocala Dream [post 9, Javier Castellano]. Bankit is entered for the main track only.
First post on Friday’s 11-race card is 1:05 p.m. Eastern.
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