Rising Turf Stars

Horse Racing Radar
Frisco Bash
Frisco Bash is a Staff writer for Horse Racing Radar
Thursday, June 24, 2021

Our country's rising turf stars will take the stage in Saturday's $300K Wise Dan Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs. They are a competitive bunch, as we shall see in a moment,

But first things first, how about some background knowledge of the stakes race in question?

Before it was the Wise Dan Stakes, it was formerly run as the Firecracker Stakes (G2). And WISE DAN won it twice: in 2011 and 2013.

WISE DAN was an outstanding turf specialist. He won eleven Grade 1 races. He won the Breeder's Cup Mile (G1) twice. He even won the Clark Stakes (G1), which was contested on the dirt.

A simple google search will verify that he was the first horse to win the same three Eclipse Awards—Horse of the Year, Champion Older Male, Champion Male Turf Horse—for two consecutive years.

Well, we've got ten entrants competing on Saturday in honor of Wise Dan's name, and you never know—a turf star may be born from this race and have it named after him! There's only one way to find out: race and win.

Let's look at the field and three potential win-candidates.

Race 10: $300K Wise Dan Stakes (G2)

Post Time is 5:26 PM ET. 

  10. IN LOVE 

First candidate is SET PIECE from the one-hole for trainer Brad Cox. He's a five-year-old son of DANSILI who is stepping up in class, but strung together two wins in a row. Those wins were over this Churchill Downs grass, though a bit softer going. 

He closed well despite the slow fractions put before him. They went :49 flat for a half-mile in a one-mile race, and he closed triumphantly to a length and a half win.They went :24 for an opening quarter in an 8.5 furlong race, and he won by four lengths. His mind is on running. 

He's likely to come from off the pace again, with regular rider Florent Geroux onboard—who wins with closers at a decent rate that approaches 20%. 

SOMELIKEITHOTBROWN seeks his first Grade 1 victory for trainer Michael Maker. Hasn't had great success in his tries at Churchill Downs, but we can't deny his competitiveness. 

This son of BIG BROWN comes off a Grade 2 victory in the Dinner Party Stakes during Preakness Stakes Saturday. He figures to be the lone speed of the race, which is dangerous when he's got more class than his rivals to step up with!

Jose Ortiz piloted him last time out and is back again. We also can't ignore that in 6 tries at this 8.5-9 furlong distance, he's got 3 wins and 3 seconds.

Can we make the case for a potential price horse? How about HIERARCHY for trainer Joe Sharp, who is stepping up in class. He breaks from the five-hole with jockey Adam Beschizza in the irons. This will be his second graded stakes attempt; he finished sixth in his first attempt. 

But what's interesting is that on paper, his last Optional Claiming 80k victory at Churchill Downs was sneakily competitive—as competitive as SOMELIKEITHOTBROWN's last race: the Grade 2 Dinner Party. Yet HIERARCHY succeeded in his assignment off a seven month layoff. He also appears to have developed an affinity for Churchill Downs: 2 wins and 1 third from 3 total tries. With this being his second race off a layoff, he could be sitting on a big one. Look out!

Source: Equibase

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