ELMONT, NY – Three Diamonds Farm’s Chimney Rock streaks into town ready to pass his next big test in Friday’s $80,000 Sir Cat Stakes at Belmont Park.
The Sir Cat is a 6-furlong sprint over the inner turf course restricted to 3-year-olds. The 2020 edition has attracted a field of seven colts and geldings, plus one Main Track Only entry should the race be taken off of the turf.
Chimney Rock broke his maiden in his third career start while turf sprinting for the first time, then finished second, less than 1 length behind the winners, in the Kentucky Downs Juvenile Turf Sprint Stakes, the Indian Summer Stakes, and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G2).
Unraced since finishing fourth in the two-turn Texas Turf Mile Stakes in late January, the Mike Maker trainee returned to win a 5 1/2-furlong turf allowance at Churchill Downs that returns the second- and third-place finishers (Jack and Noah and Guildsman, respectively) in this spot.
Here is a look at the full field for Friday’s Sir Cat:
1. Maxwell Esquire (10/1) – He hit the board in each of his three prior one-turn turf starts, including finishing third in a local mile-long allowance 12 days ago, his first start in over six months. Trainer Christophe Clement has lost his last 25 starters making their second starts after such a layoff, so he will need to continue his trend of improving upon his prior speed figures if he wants to win his first stakes.
2. Jack and Noah (3/1) – The first of two entries from Mark Casse’s stable, he won the 6-furlong Atlantic Beach Stakes at Aqueduct last November and was a head away from holding off Chimney Rock in their recent matchup. Expect John Velazquez to go straight to the lead and utilize this colt’s best weapon: speed.
3. Old Chestnut (8/1) – The second Casse runner began his career auspiciously, wiring two talented Woodbine fields when breaking his maiden and in the Ontario Racing Stakes. He failed to hit the board in his four subsequent starts, but the last two were either going two turns or on the dirt, so perhaps a return to turf sprinting will right the ship.
4. Guildsman (7/2) – The French-bred Brendan Walsh trainee made six starts in Europe as a juvenile, all going 6-6 1/2 furlongs, and was 3/4 of a length away from winning the Coventry Stakes (G2) at the Royal Ascot meet. He has made two starts since coming stateside in 2020, finishing third in both the 5-furlong Texas Glitter Stakes and the aforementioned Churchill Downs allowance, so the extra distance should be to his liking.
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5. Turned Aside (4/1) – He won twice in his 2-year-old season, including breaking his maiden over this course and distance, and is familiar with several of his fellow entries. The well-bred American Pharoah colt is out of a War Front dam, so he is bred top to bottom to win a stakes like this one.
6. Mr. Shortandsimple (8/1) (Main Track Only) – He will only compete if the race is taken off of the turf, which according to recent weather projects is highly unlikely. Owned and trained by Rudy Rodriguez, he defeated $50k claimers over a sloppy Aqueduct main track in late December and broke his maiden going 6 furlongs on the local dirt when it was rated fast.
7. Chimney Rock (2/1) – The morning line favorite was visually impressive after stalking and pouncing to defeat Jack and Noah last time out and will be tough to hold off here as he makes his second start off of the layoff. Trainer Mike Maker wins 19% under such conditions and will leg up Jose Ortiz, who was aboard for that recent Churchill Downs effort.
8. So Street (12/1) – The longest shot on the board has looked night-and-day better when sprinting on turf, rather than dirt, such as when he won the Howard County Stakes while going 5 1/2 furlongs on the Laurel Park lawn. However, his only time facing any common foes came when he finished third, 2 1/2 lengths behind Jack and Noah in the Atlantic Beach Stakes, so he will need to improve in his 2020 debut.