The 59th running of the Grade 3, $200,000 Red Smith Handicap, a near marathon in racing run at 11 furlongs on the grass, drew a field of 11 scheduled for the grass and one (Turco Bravo (CHI)) who is entered for the main track only. Of the turf runners, four have earned more than a quarter million dollars this year alone. Of that quartet, and in terms of the best efforts at the highest graded stakes level, Grade 2 Bowling Green Stakes winner Hunter O'Riley and Grade 2 Monmouth Stakes winner Money Multiplier share top billing. Oscar Nominated has earned the most this year, $642,296, but his only win came in a Grade 3 race, the Kentucky Turf Cup. Messi (Ger) is winless in five races this year but in 2016 won the Grade 2 Sky Classic Stakes and could be a threat with his best effort. Then there are a pair of New York bred horses, Get Jets and Call Provision, both housed in the barn of leading North American trainer Chad Brown. Get Jets enters the race off a victory in the Ashley T. Cole Stakes while Call Provision was a nose short of his stablemate in that same race. Among the rest, the only other horse entered for turf that who has run well in stakes company is Spring Quality, who won the Robellino Stakes for Pennsylvania bred horses in August. Memories of Peter, Soluble (Ger), St. Louie and Tricked Up complete the lineup.
Hunter O'Riley posted the 16 to 1 upset in the slightly tougher Bowling Green Stakes at the end of July on the Saratoga Turf course when rallying from last of seven to get up by a neck on the wire. Earning a career-best 115 Equibase Speed Figure with that effort, Hunter O'Riley wasn't disgraced a bit when beaten a length and three-quarters in all for the win in the Sword Dancer Stakes at the end of August. With his other win this year coming at the marathon distance of a mile and one-half proving he's a horse that loves to run these longer distances, Hunter O'Riley drops to the grade 3 level and can win by repeating his Bowling Green effort in this year's Red Smith Handicap.
Call Provision is one of two horses saddled by the leading trainer in North America, Chad Brown, the other being Money Multiplier. Call Provision has six career wins and ran the best race of his career last month when winning a classified allowance race at the mile and three-eighths distance of the Red Smith, earning a 115 figure. Get Jets won the West Point Stakes (for New York breds only) in August with the same 115 figure, before a win in the Ashley T. Cole Stakes in September. With those 115 figure efforts as good as any horse in the race has ever run, with one exception (Money Multiplier in August, 2016 when second in the Sword Dancer Stakes), we must give both Call Provision and Get Jets respect as horses that can win in this field.
Money Multiplier had a tremendous 2016 campaign, winning twice and finishing second in three other races from seven starts. His best efforts last year came when second in the United Nations Stakes with a career-best 119 figure. Money Multiplier earned $487K for those efforts last year before returning in July from nearly nine months off. In that comeback effort, Money Multiplier won the Monmouth Stakes with a lowly 97 figure but bettered that significantly when second in the Sword Dancer for the second year in a row, this time with a 106 figure. In his most recent race, Money Multiplier finished a well-beaten eighth in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational Stakes but as he drops from grade 1 to grade 3 company he has the ability to return to competitive form so rounds out a quartet that should run the best in this year's Red Smith Handicap.
The rest of the field, with their best representative figures is Memories of Peter (100), Soluble (Ger) (107), St. Louie (96), Turco Bravo (111 on dirt) and Tricked Up (111).
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