Although the $400,000, Grade 2 Suburban Stakes July 3 at Belmont Park drew just six entrants, this Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” prep for the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic is still likely to prove to be a very exciting race because of two horses – Happy Saver and Mystic Guide. Both are 4-year-olds and lightly raced.
Happy Saver won the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes last October and returned to the races at the end of May for a big win, while Mystic Guide returns from three months off after having won the $12 million, Group 1 Dubai World Cup Sponsored by Emirates Airline in March. Mystic Guide finished second in last fall’s Jockey Club Gold Cup the only time he faced Happy Saver previously. The contenders do not end there, with Informative entering the race off a 79.80-1 upset in the Grade 3 Salvator Mile Stakes last month. Moretti finished third in the Grade 2 Brooklyn Stakes Presented by Northwell Health last month following 10 months away from the races and also finished second in last year’s Suburban, so he appears to fit here. Max Player and Prioritize round out the field and appear off form, with Max Player coming into the race off a poor sixth-place effort in the Grade 3 Pimlico Special Match Series Stakes and with Prioritize having finished fifth in the same race.
Assuming Mystic Guide is ready to run following a little over three months off, I think he is more probable to win the Suburban than Happy Saver based on his win in the Dubai World Cup near the end of March. Now posting a record of 4-2-2 in eight career starts, Mystic Guide won the Jim Dandy Stakes last summer as a 3-year-old in only the fifth start of his career before stretching out to 1 ¼ miles in the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont last October. In that race, Mystic Guide rallied to make the lead by a head with an eighth of a mile to go over Happy Saver but was beaten three-quarters of a length at the end, earning a then career-best 104 Equibase Speed Figure in the process. After taking 4 ½ months off to mature, Mystic Guide made short work of six other horses in the Razorback Handicap in his 2021 debut in February and earned a 108 figure, before easily defeating 11 other horses in the Dubai World Cup at the 1 ¼-mile distance of Saturday’s Suburban. In the World Cup he earned a 115 figure, and considering the Suburban will be his third start of the year we can expect even better. Having put in a nice series of workouts since returning to North America, including a best-of-33 drill one week ago at the distance of a half-mile, Mystic Guide gets a slight edge in the Suburban over a very worthy opponent in Happy Saver.
Happy Saver actually earned the best Equibase Speed Figure of his career in his second career start, last July at Saratoga at 1 1/8 miles. That 116 figure was tremendous considering he had only run once before, when he won his debut by 5 ½ lengths in June 2020 at the distance of seven furlongs. After that victory at Saratoga, Happy Saver easily won the Federico Tesio Stakes in September and then set his sights on the Jockey Club Gold Cup. Racing at 1 ¼ miles, he put away Mystic Guide in the final yards to earn a 109 figure. After nearly eight months off, Happy Saver returned to beat a nondescript field of allowance foes as expected at the end of May and earned a 99 figure. Considering how well he ran in his second career start last July, we can expect Happy Saver to improve markedly off his 2021 debut and that is why the second match between him and Mystic Guide should be one to behold.
Informative was disregarded at 30.30-1 two races back when he finished second in an allowance race and earned a career-best 103 figure, and one month later he ran even better. In the Salvator Mile Stakes at Monmouth Park on June 12, Informative rallied from last of 10 to win by a length when completely dismissed by bettors at 79.80-1 odds. The 110 Equibase Speed Figure he earned in the Salvator Mile appears legitimate and as it is as good as the 108 figure Mystic Guide earned winning the Razorback Stakes and the 109 figure Happy Saver earned winning the Jockey Club Gold Cup. Informative could improve off of that number just as his two more heralded opponents as he’s a 4-year-old just like them, which means that this upstart can’t be dismissed as a contender in the Suburban.
The rest of the field, with their best Equibase Speed Figures, is Max Player (106), Moretti (106) and Prioritize (107).