Full field looks to make headlines in Saturday's G3 Red Smith Handicap
by Brian Bohl
Three Diamonds Farm's Bigger Picture will make his 16th consecutive graded stakes start as one of three entrants for trainer Mike Maker as part of a full 16-horse field in the Grade 3, $200,000 Red Smith Handicap on Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack.
The 59th running of the Red Smith, for 3-year-olds and up contested at 1 3/8 miles on the Big A's inner turf, will see Bigger Picture looking to notch his second win in the race after capturing the 2016 edition by 1 ¼ lengths. The multiple graded stakes winning Kentucky bred has registered 94-plus Beyer Speed Figures in all eight of his previous starts this year, including a 99 in a runner-up effort in the Grade 3 Kentucky Turf Cup to Arklow on September 8 at Kentucky Downs and a 96 for his third-place finish last out in the Grade 3 Sycamore on October 18 at Keeneland.
Jockey Manny Franco will pick up the mount for the 7-year-old son of Badge of Silver, leaving from post 8.
Bigger Picture's stablemate, Soglio, will return to stakes company after defeating allowance company by 1 ¼ lengths on October 19 at Keeneland. The 4-year-old Scat Daddy gelding, owned by Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey, will be looking for his first stakes win after multiple challenges, including third by a half length in the Grade 3 Stars and Stripes on July 7 at Arlington Park and third in the Kentucky Turf Cup. Hall of Famer John Velazquez will ride from post 5.
Completing Maker's troika is Michael Hui's Zulu Alpha, who is making his first start for the veteran conditioner, after winning last month's Sycamore for trainer John Ortiz. The 5-year-old Street Cry gelding, who started his career in Ireland trained by Dermot Weld, has won three of his last four starts. Luis Saez will ride from post 3.
Special Envoy, owned by Mr. and Mrs. Bertram Firestone, will be making his third start off a nine-month layoff for trainer Arnaud Delacour. The 7-year-old Stroll gelding ran second in the Edward Evans in his 2018 debut on June 23 at Laurel Park and ran seventh in the Grade 3 Red Bank on September 1 at Monmouth. After never racing at longer than 1 1/8 miles in 24 career starts, Delacour said he's excited to see if Special Envoy can step up to the challenge in his first Aqueduct appearance.
"He's doing well, unfortunately we've had a tough time getting the right spots for him this time of year with all the races coming off the turf," Delacour said. "I think he'll like the mile and three eighths and can appreciate softer ground, but we'll have to see."
Special Envoy had won three consecutive stakes before his runner-up effort in the Edward Evans.
"He's ready and it helps being an older horse now," Delacour said. "I think he can handle it, it'll just be a question of the ground."
Special Envoy, an also-eligible, will break from post 11 in tandem with Daniel Centeno.
Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence's Call Provision, who ran second to Spring Quality in last year's Red Smith, will get another opportunity for trainer Chad Brown, drawing post 6 with Irad Ortiz, Jr. aboard.
Call Provision, a Silver member of the NYRA Starter Loyalty Program, will be making his first graded stakes appearance since a fourth-place effort in the Grade 1 Man o' War on May 12 at Belmont. The son of Lemon Drop Kid has done well in long-distance tests, including second by a nose to stablemate Focus Group in the John's Call at 1 5/8 miles on August 22 at Saratoga Race Course.
Focus Group and Call Provision will compete against each other again, with the former drawing post 12 as an also-eligble with Jose Ortiz set to ride. Also owned by Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence, Focus Group parlayed the John's Call into his first graded stakes start when he ran third in the Grade 1 Canadian International at 1 ½ miles on October 13 at Woodbine.
Big Bend will be looking to earn his first win in more than a year for trainer Tom Proctor. The 4-year-old Union Rags colt won the 2017 Grade 3 Sycamore before running out of the money in his last six starts. He will look to recapture his sophomore form, drawing post 9 with Feargal Lynch set to ride.
Trainer Todd Pletcher will see two Group 1 winners look to make a splash in their first North American stakes starts. Galope Americano, who won the Group 1 Derby Paulista against 17 contenders in November 2017 at Cidade Jardim in her native Brazil, ran fifth in her first appearance since arriving in the United States against optional claimers on October 19 at Belmont.
Village King won a Group 3 race at 1 ¼ miles and the Group 1 Jockey Club in October 2017 and ran third in the Group 1 Carlos Pellegrini Internacional at San Isidro in his native Argentina before arriving in the United States. He ran fourth in his debut on September 14 at Churchill Downs before a third-place finish on October 19 at Belmont. He will make his first U.S. stakes appearance drawing from post 2 with Hall of Famer Javier Castellano aboard.
Inspector Lynley will enter off a third-place finish in the Grade 2 Knickerbocker on October 8 at Belmont, recording a 99 Beyer for the second straight race after earning that figure in a fourth-place effort in the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch on Saratoga's Closing Day September 3. The son of Lemon Drop Kid last won a stakes in the Fasig-Tipton Lure on August 11 at Saratoga.
Trained by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey, Inspector Lynley, also a NYRA Silver member, will be stretching out to the Red Smith distance for the first time, drawing post 7 with Jose Lezcano aboard.
Postulation, a NYRA Silver member trained by Michael Matz, was second in the 1 ½-mile Point of Entry on October 14 over soft turf at Belmont. The 6-year-old with 24 career starts on his ledger will be aiming for his first win since the Grade 3 American St. Leger in August 2017 at Arlington. Jorge Vargas will be in the irons from post 10.
Rounding out the field is Teodoro, making his first stakes start for trainer Tom Morley, from post 1. Red Knight, a NYRA Silver member conditioned by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, is an also-eligible.
Exulting, Adulator and Control Group are entered for the main-track only.