Considering how the 2-year-old male division is one of the more puzzling categories on the Eclipse Award ballot, the Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct could be a spot for unveiling one or two new Triple Crown candidates. Contested at a two-turn, 1 1/8-mile distance, it offers a preview of what could come for the nine starters in the important two-turn stakes awaiting them as 3-year-olds.
1. Chase Tracker (7-2): Won nicely in his career debut at Parx, then was no match for runaway winner Independence Hall in the Nashua. He adds blinkers and should benefit from a ground-saving rail trip with Javier Castellano in the irons. Figuring he ran into the wrong horse on the wrong day, he should be much more competitive here for a stable well-versed in developing Triple Crown contenders.
2. Forza Di Oro (3-1): Took a nice step forward in his second start, winning a maiden race by a little less than a length at a one-turn 1 1/16-mile distance. In his debut, he was second by 4 ¼ lengths to Remsen starter Ajaaweed, making it curious why he was installed as the morning-line favorite.
3. Cleon Jones (6-1): New York-bred named for a star on the 1969 Miracle Mets, he’s the most seasoned member of the field. Has started five times, three of them in state-bred stakes, and lost by a head last time out in the Sleepy Hollow Stakes at a mile. Seems likely to handle the nine-furlong distance and might hit a home run here.
4. Ajaaweed (9-2): Posted that impressive 4 ¼-length maiden win but then failed to fire against Grade 1 rivals in the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity. He’s worked nicely since returning home to New York and seems poised for a strong effort.
5. Informative (12-1): He’s still a maiden, but his best effort came in his last start when he lost by a nose in a Laurel Park stakes. Seems to be getting better, but he’s never raced beyond six furlongs and this looms as too formidable of a challenge for him.
6. Shotski (15-1): An easy winner in a six-furlong Laurel Park maiden race, he lacked a late kick when stretched out to a mile against some good rivals in the Street Sense Stakes at Churchill Downs. Has an interesting pedigree for two turns and with a jockey switch to Luis Saez, he might take a nice step forward at an attractive price. Wouldn’t be surprised if he winds up on the lead in a race lacking an obvious front-runner.
7. Prince James (15-1): His speed figures are ordinary but he did win at first asking around two turns in his career debut at Monmouth Park. Was then a distant second at 1 1/16 miles in an allowance race at Churchill Downs. Shouldn’t be fazed by the distance but it’s questionable whether he has enough speed to be a threat at the wire.
8. Alpha Sixty Six (4-1): Was tested in the Grade 1 Champagne in his second start and ran well enough to finish fifth. His win came in a sprint, though the blinkers come off here and that might help him. On the other hand, drawing an outside post could create a problem for him.
9. Amends (12-1): Has excellent connections, being a Phipps Stable homebred trained by Shug McGaughey, but he’s hard to gauge. Made a belated bid in his career debut at seven furlongs. Then broke his maiden at 1 1/16 miles, but that came in the slop in a race washed off the turf. Asking him to handle graded stakes rivals on a dry track from the outside post may be asking a lot at this stage in his career.
THE PICK: Chase Tracker
LIVE LONGSHOT: Shotski