They may be five months away but the Kentucky Derby and the Kentucky Oaks are in focus at Aqueduct on Saturday, with two ‘Road’ races on the schedule. Dornoch – a brother to 2023 Derby winner Mage – leads the way in the G2 Remsen Stakes against G3 runner-up Moonlight and the high-cost Sierra Leone, while G1-placed Life Talk is the filly to beat in the G2 Demoiselle, with trainer Todd Pletcher bidding for a fourth successive win in the race.
G2 – purse $250,000 – 1m 1f – dirt – 2yo – 3.45pm ET
In frozen winter there is an opportunity to dream of the warmth of spring as ten colts try to stake an early claim for the Kentucky Derby in the Remsen at Aqueduct on Saturday, a race that offers ‘Road’ points on a 10-5-3-2-1 basis and features a true A-list celebrity on pedigree.
The 2023 Derby winner Mage had not even made his debut by Remsen-time but his brother Dornoch has run three times and has already shown a flash of something in stakes grade. He was runner-up in a mile stakes at Monmouth Park on his second start and then got off the dime when rolling his rivals flat over a mile-sixteenth at Keeneland, making all and drawing off to win by six and a half lengths.
His trainer Danny Gargan won the 2022 Remsen with Dubyuhnell and rates Dornoch a much superior horse – he will need to do more today but the potential is there. The distance is unlikely to be an issue.
The $2.3m yearling Sierra Leone is the morning-line first-string for Chad Brown and has track experience after rallying strongly to win here on debut over a mile. He also has a crackerjack pedigree – by Gun Runner out of a G1-winning mare – while his barnmate Domestic Product was a wide-margin winner of his maiden over course and distance, moving up a long way from his debut effort. There should be less disparity between their odds.
Where’s Chris is one of two stakes-winners in the field, getting that tag when finishing his race off well to beat the previously unbeaten Book’em Danno here over a mile, with Billal beaten six and a quarter lengths into third and Private Desire another half-length away in fourth.
Where’s Chris showed improvement for stretching out and could show more for going even longer, and will likely again have the measure of the horses who finished behind him. Private Desire has a better-fancied barnmate in Moonlight, who nailed his maiden here over a mile before hitting the place in the 2023 G3 Street Sense at Churchill Downs over a mile-sixteenth. The track was sloppy on that occasion and a sounder surface could easily bring improvement, and trainer Todd Pletcher won this in 2021 with Mo Donegal.
Drum Roll Please got off the mark at the third attempt when a dominant winner here in a mile maiden, looking as though going longer would not be a problem, while Copper Tax is the most experienced in the field with a five-for-six count. He won a moderate stakes at Delaware Park, leading throughout over the mile and drawing off for a romping score – this will be much tougher and he could struggle.
2023 Remsen Stakes Odds
Dornoch is a likely underlay and preference is for MOONLIGHT, who may not have been suited by the sloppy track last time and can move up from that.
|Odds by JazzSports
|Le Dom Bro
|Drum Roll Please
G2 – purse $250,000 – 1m 1f – dirt – 2yo fillies – 2.45pm ET
The Demoiselle is the distaff equivalent and an important way-station on the ‘Road to the Kentucky Oaks’, and like the Remsen it offers qualifying points on a 10-5-3-2-1 count – unlike the Remsen, it also showcases a heavy chalk with G1 form in the bank.
It is substantial class relief for Life Talk, a Saratoga maiden winner who hit the show behind Just FYI in the 2023 G1 Frizette here over a mile before heading to Santa Anita for the 2023 G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, where she continued her climb up the ladder when fourth, beaten three and a half lengths by the same star filly.
Form behind Just FYI is as strong as it gets in this division and Life Talk sets a very high standard; trainer Todd Pletcher has won this race a record eight times including the last three straight.
Shimmering Allure has her own G1 cachet to flaunt – a longshot fourth in the 2023 Alcibiades at Keeneland – and made her stakes breakthrough next time here over a mile, when driving clear to beat Vino Rouge by three lengths. It was a pretty solid performance and she should confirm the form with the runner-up, who had earlier got off the mark when winning her maiden here over a mile.
The step into open company plays against Caldwell Luvs Gold, who has been hitting the board in state-bred stakes here over seven furlongs and a mile. The class hike is another obstacle and there may be more profit in Ringy Dingy, who thrashed moderate rivals at Delaware Park when making her stakes breakthrough over a mile.
It was not much of a race nor a quick time but she romped by six and a quarter lengths, showing considerable improvement for stretching out. The extra yardage today may move her up again.
That was the same winning margin recorded by Dolomite when getting off the mark in a state-bred maiden here over seven furlongs. Chad Brown is never afraid to tip his maiden winners into the deep end but Dolomite will need a big step up to figure, while Caress was soundly beaten when fourth in a Laurel Park stakes over six furlongs and that makes her hard to like today, although stretching out could bring a little improvement.
Another wide-margin maiden winner was Most Of All, who blitzed them by more than ten lengths in a short-field mile contest at this track. It was a pretty poor race and she is up against it now, while Cozee Rags was a distant third in an allowance at Churchill Downs over a mile and needs an easier spot.
2023 Demoiselle Stakes Odds
This is an excellent opportunity for LIFE TALK to get a good win under her belt. Her G1 form is of a very high standard and she is difficult to oppose.
|Odds by JazzSports
|Most Of All
|Caldwell Luvs Gold