The Grade 3, $200,000 Red Smith Stakes features a nice field of 11 stakes quality turf runners, two also-eligibles and three more entered for the dirt only should the race move off turf due to weather.
Of the 11 in the main body of the race, three have won stakes on turf in one of their two most recent races. Marzo leads that group, having posted the 14 to 1 upset in the Grade 3 Sycamore Stakes at Keeneland in his most recent race. Red Knight is another as he was victorious in the Point of Entry Stakes last month at Belmont Park, while Tiz a Slam won the Grade 2 Nijinsky Stakes one before last, in July at Woodbine.
Others with recent competitive form at the level are Nakamura and Postulation, who finished second and third, respectively, in the Sycamore. Sadler's Joy is winless in 10 races since taking the Grade 2 Mac Diarmida Stakes way back in March of 2018, but he's faced better than most in the Red Smith field recently as he was third in the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Stakes in his most recent start. Glorious Empire (IRE) fits at the level as well, making his third start after returning from nine months off in September and winning the Grade 2 Bowling Green Stakes and the Grade 1 Sword Dancer Stakes in the summer of 2018.
Petit Fils (FR) makes his U.S. debut and won the Group 3 Prix d'Hedouville Stakes this past May. Dot Matrix and Have At It both try this 11 furlong turf trip for the first time, the former having won the Ashley T. Cole Stakes for New York breds only in September and the latter winless since taking the Grade 2 Hill Prince Stakes (for three year olds only) in the fall of 2018. Red Right Hand enters the race off three straight wins but is running in a stakes for the first time. Also-eligibles Zumurdee and Mokheef appear a bit overmatched. Backsideofthemoon, Bon Raison and Dynamax Prime are all entered to run only if the race is run on the main track.
In this year's Red Smith, one of the things which appears certain is a contested pace scenario, as Tiz a Slam and Glorious Empire (IRE) have earned nearly all their wins when leading from the start. European import Petite Fils (FR) shows the comment line “straight to lead” in two of his most recent races as well. With that in mind, the horses which can stalk the pace in third through fifth appear to have the best chance to succeed.
Marzo tops that list. He was claimed by trainer Mike Maker for $62,500 in August of this year and two races later won the Sycamore Stakes at the marathon distance of one and one-half miles on turf. Maker, who has a knack for finding horses who can become stakes winners in long races on grass, appears to have found another gem as Marzo earned a career best 109 Equibase Speed Figure off the claim when beaten a neck before earning a 106 figure in the Sycamore. Answering the question as to whether Marzo can run another “A” race good enough to win the Red Smith, a STATS Race Lens query on Maker's record with horses having won back-to-back in stakes races reveals Maker has a 10-for-42 record over the past five years so that appears to suggest Marzo can win his second grade 3 stakes race in a row.
Red Knight is proven in stakes and in marathon races like the 11 furlong Red Smith. A winner of seven of 14 career turf races, Red Knight won the H. Allen Jerkens Stakes last December at the distance of two miles and in his most recent race he won the Point of Entry Stakes at a mile and one-half. Earning a 110 figure in the Point of Entry, Red Knight matches up nicely with the best in the Red Smith field and appears to be a strong contender to win.
On Class alone, Sadler's Joy must be respected. Although having won just one race in 11 starts in 2018 and 2019 combined, Sadler's Joy faces easier than in his last two races when beaten a neck in the Sword Dancer Stakes with a 113 figure and when beaten a half-length in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Stakes with a 117 figure. Other than the class drop, Sadler's Joy has one more factor in his favor and that is he won his only previous try at this mile and three-eighths distance on the Aqueduct turf, back in November, 2016.
The rest of the Red Smith field (excluding the horses entered for the main track only), with their best Equibase Figures in representative races, is Dot Matrix (105), Glorious Empire (IRE) (118), Have At It (112), Mokheef (95), Nakamura (110), Postulation (112), Petit Fils (FR) (112), Red Right Hand (108) and Zumurdee (112).
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