The Grade 1, $250,000 Summer Stakes is set for this Sunday at Woodbine. Carded as the ninth event on a stellar 11-race program, the Summer Stakes will serve as a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” event for the Juvenile Turf Stakes. The race has historically been a solid producer of Breeders’ Cup contenders, and this year should be no different, with a solid cast of 13 horses entered to contest the event. Local hero Wallace will garner a lot of attention in this spot after successfully capturing the $105,000 Soar Free Stakes last time out by 1 3/4 lengths, but several shippers will take him on, including the Chad Brown-trained Fog of War.
The winner of the Summer Stakes will receive an automatic position in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Stakes this fall at Churchill Downs. Pre-entry and entry fees will be paid and a nominator award of $10,000 will be given to the person who nominated the foal or racehorse. Also, all Breeders’ Cup starters based outside of the state of Kentucky will receive a travel allowance of $10,000 if based in North America and $40,000 if based internationally.
The Grade 1 Summer Stakes will share the card on Sunday at Woodbine with the Grade 1 Natalma Stakes. The Natalma Stakes is a “Win and You’re In” for the Juvenile Fillies Turf. The North American-based Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” events continue on Saturday, September 29, and Sunday, September 30, with a monster weekend of racing at both Santa Anita and Belmont Park. In total, there will be eight challenge races contested over the weekend.
The full field for the Summer Stakes includes: Cerrado, Avie’s Flatter, Fog of War, Muskoka Warrior, Moon Swings, Wallace, Skychief, War of Will, Nashtrick, Dob Dob, Tricky Magician, Jungle Warrior, and Federal Law.
#3 Fog of War – Brown must always be respected when talking about turf races. He looks to have a nice colt in Fog of War, who broke his maiden on debut last time out at Saratoga. He earned a solid speed figure that makes him competitive with these horses. His maiden score was at 5 1/2 furlongs, so it seems the biggest question will be the stretch out in distance. However, his pedigree suggests that he shouldn’t have much problem with the added ground, and Javier Castellano comes in to ride.
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#13 Federal Law – The race’s lone European shipper, he comes to North America with 1 win in 4 lifetimes starts but has finished second in 2 others. Last time out, he was second in the East Coast Ipa Novice Stakes at Chlemsford, which was a solid effort. As always, how these shippers take to the North American style of racing is the big question mark. There is no way of knowing how he will do until we see him try, but this son of Scat Daddy was bred in Ontario with races like this in mind.
#6 Wallace – The local hero will try to win this race after solidly defeating his rivals last time out in the $105,000 Soar Free Stakes. He started his career at Presque Isle Downs, and on his third attempt, he broke his maiden in dominating fashion. After that win, he shipped to Woodbine and finished fourth in the $100,000 Victoria Stakes before moving to the turf for the first time and winning the Soar Free. The move to the turf was what he needed, as his speed figures improved dramatically in that start. If he can run that type of race again, then he will be tough to beat.
#9 Nashtrick – This horse exits the same maiden special weight as War of Will, only Nashtrick won that race by 3 1/2 lengths. He broke sharply from the gate, sat just off that foe’s early pace, and pounced in the turn to completely take over in the end. It is important to note that his speed figure did not come back that fast for the race, but Nashtrick was not all-out during the stretch run. That suggests that he has more left in the tank, which means he should show up with a solid effort here.
#12 Jungle Warrior – So far, so good for this son of Animal Kingdom after he broke his maiden at Woodbine on debut by a neck. That maiden special weight race was contested at 6 furlongs, and the added distance should be to his liking in this spot. He proved in his debut that he can come from off the pace and win, which is something that he will need to do to in a race of this magnitude. His connections are always solid at Woodbine, and this horse seems to be working flawlessly heading into the race.
#2 Avie’s Flatter – The son of Flatter debuted on the synthetic surface at Woodbine going 5 furlongs and put in a very nice performance to win in wire-to-wire fashion by 2 1/2 lengths. The challenge here will be changing surfaces to the turf. While the synthetic and turf surfaces are similar, just because a horse likes one doesn’t mean it will like the other. He will also be stretching out in distance for this race, but his breeding suggests that he can handle it.
#4 Muskoka Wonder – He started his career in stylish fashion at Woodbine with back-to-back wins on the synthetic surface. Two races back, he captured the $125,000 Clarendon Stakes by 1 1/2 lengths with a nice closing kick down the lane. That win propelled him to a race on the turf in the $105,000 Soar Free Stakes, but he could do no better than fourth in that contest. Trainer Mark Casse sends him back out on the turf for this race, which shows that he has confidence in his young colt. His second start on turf might go better.
#11 Tricky Magician –He is one of five maidens in the race, but he is the most established of them. He has hit the board in all three starts, and two races back, he only lost by a head when making his turf debut. After that race, his connections decided to run him in the $105,000 Soar Free Stakes, where he finished a solid second. This is not your typical maiden, and added distance is not something that is likely to hurt him. He must be considered a threat.
#7 Skychief – He is another maiden in this field, but he was running against tough company at Saratoga. Two races back, he lost to Fog of War, who will likely be heavily-backed in this race. Last time out, he earned a career-high speed figure while stretching out in distance for the first time. However, he still could only finish third in that race, so he will need to show more improvement here.
#10 Dob Dob – If speed figures are any indication, this horse might be in some trouble: he only earned a 42 Beyer for his debut maiden-breaking win last time out at Laurel Park. That number could be a bit misleading, though, as Dob Dob broke poorly and dropped way behind early but still came with a major run down the lane to win by 1 1/4 lengths. The win came at one mile as well, which means he has a win at this distance. That could be a major advantage for him.
#8 War of Will – This colt has just one start, a third-place finish in a maiden special weight at Woodbine going 7 furlongs. He set the early pace but went a bit too fast early while fading late in the race. His breeding suggests that this stretch out in distance won’t be a problem despite getting tired last time out. It’s also important to note that he picks up Joel Rosario to ride, which is a positive sign.
#5 Moon Swings – This son of Malibu Moon is still a maiden after three lifetime starts. Last time out was his first race over the turf, which resulted in a fourth-place finish while losing by 4 1/4 lengths. He has hit the board in in just one of three starts, so he will need to show improvement in order to have a shot against this tough group.
#1 Cerrado – This maiden will look to pull off a shocking win in this spot. In his only start, he finished fifth, but he displayed a decent closing kick in the end after falling way behind early on. Stretching out to a mile here could help.