With every up-and-coming juvenile thoroughbred turning three on Jan. 1 to start their quest for a spot in the 20-horse field for the 2019 Kentucky Derby, seven of those colts are looking to make one last big splash as a two-year-old in this Saturday’s $250,000 Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack as the highlight of that day’s racing card.
The field for the 2018 Remsen is set and while Code of Honor decided to bypass this race as the presumed favorite, there are a few contenders ready to step up and take his place. After breaking down Saturday’s seven-colt field, the following three entries come together to form my trifecta bet for this race.
2018 Remsen Stakes - Aqueduct Racetrack
The Remsen is a Grade 2 stakes race open to two-year-old thoroughbreds. The total prize purse for this year’s event has been set at $250,000 along with qualifying points for next year’s Kentucky Derby. The race will be contested on the dirt track at Aqueduct over a distance of 1 1/8 miles.
The added distance of this race will be an interesting test for all the colts in the field, who have yet to compete at 1 1/8 miles. Taking Code of Honor’s place as the probable morning line favorite to win would be Maximus Mischief, who is trained by Robert Reid and ridden by jockey Frankie Pennington. He comes into this race with the highest Horse Racing Nation rating in the field at 6.03. He landed this lofty ranking with a pair of victories at Philadelphia Park this fall.
Sired by Into Mischief, this Kentucky-bred colt covered the 5 ½ furlongs on dirt in 1:04.81 on Sept. 29 in a Maiden Special Weight race ahead of his victory on Oct. 20 in a seven-furlong run in an Allowance race. Another win on Saturday in his major stakes debut would put him firmly on the Kentucky Derby trail heading into his three-year-old campaign.
My second choice in Saturday’s Remsen would be trainer Chad Brown’s Network Effect with Javier Castellano penciled in as his jockey. This two-year-old Florida-bred colt started his racing career with a victory in a seven-furlong Maiden Special Weight race at Saratoga on Aug. 11. He covered that distance on dirt in 1:24.62. Moving up to a mile run in his graded staked debut in the Garde 3 Nashua Stakes at Aqueduct on Nov. 4, he ran a solid second behind Vekoma.
Stepping up in distance again on Saturday, this son of Mark Valeski is another contender that could make some noise in an early Kentucky Derby prep race next year if he can race to form in his last effort as a juvenile. Right now, he remains unrated by HRN.
Another interesting entry in Saturday’s main event with previous racing experience at Aqueduct is Bourbon War as my third choice to round out a trifecta pick. Trained by Mark Hennig and ridden by jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., this two-year-old Kentucky-bred colt will be making his graded stakes debut coming off a recent victory in a one-mile Maiden Special Weight race at Aqueduct on Nov. 14. He covered that distance on dirt in 1:40.60 over Moretti and Vineyard Sound. This was his only previous event in his juvenile career heading into the Remsen.
As a solid pedigree of Tapit with a progeny that goes back to AP Indy and Unbridled, Bourbon War has the chance to be a legitimate contender as a three-year-old. He comes into this race with the second-highest HRN rating in the field at 5.61.