The Grade 3, $200,000 Red Smith Stakes brings together a full field of 10 running one mile and three-eighths on the inner turf course at Aqueduct, plus three also-eligibles which can run if one of the 10 in the main body of the race should scratch. There are also three horses entered for the main track only should the race come off the turf due to inclement weather.
Assuming the race goes on the grass as scheduled, the horse with the top credentials is Bigger Picture, who has amassed a career bankroll of $1.3 million including his victory in the 2016 edition of the Red Smith. Bigger Picture, one of three horses in the field trained by Michael Maker, enters the race off a third place finish in the Grade 3 Sycamore Stakes in October, won by Zulu Alpha (another Maker trainee). Zulu Alpha won by nine and one-half lengths prior to the Sycamore and enters this race in the best form of his career.
Call Provision is another specialist at the 11 furlong trip and on the turf at Aqueduct, where he has a three-for-four career mark including a runner-up finish in last year's Red Smith. Focus Group (one of the also-eligibles) is another respectable contender, moving down a notch in class off a third place finish in the Grade 1 Pattison Canadian International Stakes last month. Soglio is also trained by Maker and has the credentials to be competitive in this race as he finished third in the Grade 3 Kentucky Turf Cup Stakes in September, a neck behind runner-up Bigger Picture.
Big Bend won the Sycamore Stakes in 2017 but is winless in six races since then. Inspector Lynley has earned over a half million dollars in his career but has won just once in six races in 2018, that win coming in the non-graded Lure Stakes at a much shorter distance in August. Another horse hoping to reach back for competitive form at the level is Postulation, who missed by a head in the 2017 Kentucky Turf Cup after winning the Grade 3 American St. Leger Stakes one month earlier, but he is winless in eight races since then. Galope Americano (BRZ), Teodoro (IRE) and Village King (ARG) round out the 10 in the main body of the race, while Red Knight and Special Envoy are the two remaining also-eligibles. Adulator, Control Group and Exulting are the three horses that may run if the race is run on the main track.
Zulu Alpha won three of the first 16 races of his career through May of this year. However, starting in August when blinkers were removed, he has become a different horse entirely winning three of four races and missing by a neck in the other. Along the way, trainer Michael Maker claimed the horse for $80,000 in September and immediately rewarded new owner Michael Hui with $60,000 of that claim price with a win in the Sycamore Stakes at a mile and one-half, earning a 111 Equibase Speed Figure in the process. Cutting back to a mile and three-eighths is not an issue, and considering Zulu Alpha earned career-best 116 Figure when winning in September just before the Sycamore, he fits here perfectly as last year's Red Smith winner (Spring Quality) earned a 109 figure in victory. Additionally, having beaten the 2016 Red Smith winner Bigger Picture in the Sycamore, Zulu Alpha has already proven capable of performing well enough to win at this level.
Bigger Picture is a pro, having won 10 of 31 career starts on the grass and having earned $1.3 million in the process. On the other hand, he is winless in seven starts since taking the John B. Connally Stakes in January and he was no match for Zulu Alpha in the Sycamore last month when checking in a non-threatening third. One race before that, Bigger Picture missed by a half-length in the Kentucky Turf Cup Stakes, earning a strong 118 figure and finishing a neck ahead of Soglio, who came back to win one month later. In 2016, Bigger Picture missed by a nose in the Sycamore before winning the Red Smith and so it would be no surprise if he steps up with his biggest effort of the year in this situation.
Soglio has won three of nine races this year and although none were stakes, he's proven to be very tough in his four year old season. He won at this 11 furlong turf trip in May with a 118 figure that is good enough to win if repeated and he's run very consistently since then. Following the win in May, Soglio finished third in three straight races, two of those stakes including when just a neck behind Bigger Picture in the Kentucky Turf Cup. His figures for those efforts of 120, 113 and 118 are all strong enough to have him in the thick of the action on the finish line if repeated.
Three more horses deserve honorable mention and should at the least be considered for exacta tickets as they can finish second if they run their best. Call Provision has been first or second in 11 of 19 career races including seven of eight at this 11 furlong turf trip. He rallied from eighth to finish second in last year's Red Smith to earn a 108 figure and he's earned 121 and 118 figures since then, the latter when beaten a nose on the wire by Focus Group in the John's Call Stakes in August. Postulation was a dual stakes winner last year when victorious in the Cape Henlopen and American St. Leger then went off form. However, since changing trainers to Michael Matz he has put in two good efforts, especially his most recent when second in the Point of Entry Stakes at a mile and one-half with a career best 118 figure. Focus Group won the John's Call Stakes at one mile and five-eighths in August with a 118 figure, then wasn't disgraced a bit when third of 11 in the Canadian International last month so rounds out this trio of potential contenders for the exotics.
The rest of the field entered for turf, with their best representative figures is Big Bend (113), Galope Americano (BRZ) (96), Inspector Lynley (114), Red Knight (108), Special Envoy (103), Teodoro (IRE) (110) and Village King (ARG) (101).
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