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Aaron previews the 2022 Futurity Stakes (G3) at Belmont at the Big A, then gives his top picks and longshots from this “Win & You’re In” for the 2022 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint. The Christophe Clement trainee Inflation Nation steps up following his gutsy maiden-breaking score at Saratoga. Tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!
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Madaket Stables, Little Red Feather Racing and William Strauss’ Nagirroc will make his stakes debut off two weeks’ rest in Sunday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Futurity, a six-furlong outer turf sprint for juveniles, at the Belmont at the Big A fall meet.
The Futurity, which offers the winner a berth into the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint on November 4 at Keeneland as part of the “Win And You’re In” series, is one of three graded events on Sunday’s card, which also features the Grade 2, $250,000 Beldame in Race 3 and the Grade 3, $150,000 Knickerbocker in Race 8.
Nagirroc, a bay son of Lea, made his first outing for trainer Graham Motion at second asking in a six-furlong maiden special weight going the Futurity distance on September 24 at the Belmont at the Big A fall meet. Sent to the lead by Manny Franco, Nagirroc improved his margins at every point of call to post the 3 1/2-length victory in a sharp final time of 1:08.58 over the firm going. The effort garnered a field-best 78 Beyer Speed Figure.
“He’s been pretty classy in the morning since I’ve got him,” said Motion. “I haven’t had him for that long and I was impressed with what he had done, but I certainly would not have expected him to run the way he did. I thought it was a very good effort. He won very comfortably.”
The victory came on the heels of a runner-up debut for his former trainer Jim Corrigan in August at Horseshoe Indianapolis where he rallied from sixth-of-9 to fall just 1 3/4 lengths shy of the victorious Bal a Kazoo.
Out of the winning Zamindar mare Emma Spencer, Nagirroc’s fourth dam, Inchmurrin, produced multiple Group 3-winner and sire Inchinor, who went on to sire multiple Group 1-winners Cape of Good Hope and Notnowcato.
Franco retains the mount from post 2.
Louis Lazzinnaro and Michael Dubb’s Inflation Nation will look to build upon a last-out maiden victory at second asking for trainer Christophe Clement. An Irish-bred son of Speightstown, Inflation Nation was defeated by a head on debut in a July 22 maiden sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs at Saratoga Race Course. The winner of that race, Appraise, went on to post a runner-up finish in the Grade 1 Summer at Woodbine two starts later.
Inflation Nation returned to the same distance and course to claim victory on September 1, tracking in fourth position two lengths off the pace under Dylan Davis before unleashing his bid approaching the turn. The chestnut colt took command at the stretch call and ran on gamely down the lane to eke out a half-length score in 1:05.45 over a course listed as good.
Clement said he was pleased with the first two efforts from Inflation Nation, who breezed a half-mile in 51.64 seconds over Saratoga’s Oklahoma dirt training track on Friday.
“He’s done everything right. He’s a nice horse,” said Clement. “We’ll see if he’s able to handle the jump up. He’s training forwardly and he looks sound.”
Jose Ortiz will ride from post 3.
NBS Stable’s Dunedin arrives at the Futurity as the only entrant with a victory against winners on his resume. Trained by Kelsey Danner, Dunedin was last seen graduating with a half-length victory over stakes-placed Roman Giant in a restricted allowance traveling 6 1/2 furlongs on September 8 at Kentucky Downs. The son of Munnings rallied strongly from 8 1/2 lengths back to earn his first victory in his third start.
A $140,000 purchase from the Brookdale Sales consignment at last year’s Keeneland September Yearling Sale, Dunedin finished on the board in his first two starts sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs at Colonial Downs, finishing third on debut in July and a close second in August.
Regular rider Joseph Rocco, Jr. retains the mount from post 1.
Conditioner Mike Maker will be represented by two contenders in Paradise Farms Corp., David Staudacher, Skychai Racing and Angelo Carlesimo’s Gaslight Dancer [post 7, Irad Ortiz, Jr.] and Three Diamonds Farm’s Bourbon Therapy [post 6, Eric Cancel].
Gaslight Dancer, a bay son of City of Light, was soundly defeated on debut when sprinting six furlongs over the Churchill Downs main track, but made a strong improvement when switching to turf for his second outing on September 3 at Keeneland. Gaslight Dancer earned a wire-to-wire score under Gerardo Corrales in the seven-furlong maiden sprint, romping to a five-length victory and earning a 75 Beyer. He was a $260,000 purchase from the OBS Spring Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training.
Bourbon Therapy, a dark bay Free Drop Billy colt, will make his second outing for Maker after finishing an even fourth last out in the Juvenile Sprint on September 8 at Kentucky Downs. The $40,000 Fasig-Tipton July Horses of Racing Age Sale purchase was a winner at third asking for previous trainer John Ennis when sprinting five furlongs over the Horseshoe Indianapolis turf in June.
Completing the field are Tee-N-Jay Farm and trainer Kent Sweezey’s stakes-placed Power Attack [post 5, Kendrick Carmouche]; Sleeping Giant Stables, America’s Pastime Stables and KimDon Racing’s debut maiden winner Vacation Dance [post 4, Javier Castellano] for trainer John Kimmel; and D Hatman Thoroughbreds’ stakes-winning filly Determined Jester [post 8, Forest Boyce], who is cross-entered in Saturday’s Grade 3 Matron at the Belmont at the Big A fall meet for trainer Phil Schoenthal.
The Futurity is slated as Race 6 on Sunday’s nine-race card. First post is 12:35 p.m. Eastern.
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