By Dennis Miller
The 5-1/2 furlong race is the 8th on the Pleasanton card and is scheduled for a 6:15 p.m. post.
Southern California invader Mr. T’s Thirsty is the heavy favorite at 8/5, but there a host of talented runners from Northern California and one other Southern California runner that will be gunning for the crown.
A run through the field of the Everett Nevin, in post-position order:
Highland Ghost (O J Jauregui trainer, Irving Orozco jockey, 8/1): The horse had a strong run breaking his maiden over the Pleasanton track on June 19. He wired the field, drawing off in the lane to win by over three lengths. However, not only is this a step-up, but he has to deal with the rail draw, not the place you want to be in a sprint. He will need to either go early and move off the rail, or tuck in and try to get good position heading into the lane.
Stanford Bay (Jonathan Wong, Kyle Frey, 6/1): Another who broke maiden over the track earlier in the meet and another that went wire to wire. The third-place horse in his maiden race came back to win their next start. For me, the interesting aspect of the first two horses is that Frey – the current king of the jockey colony in Northern California – rode both horses for their maiden wins and made the decision to go here when he had his choice of mounts. A lot of work to get it done here but will have front end speed.
Mr. T’s Thirsty (Walther Solis, Tyler Baze, 8/5): One of two Solis sends up for the race, with Baze having rode both, and he makes the decision to ride here. The maiden score came in his second start, June 27 at the Los Alamitos Race Course. It was basically a duel from the start, and he showed guts battling down the long stretch at Los Al to get the win. His winning 5-furlong time was nearly two seconds faster than the two inside horses and a second faster than the horse that will be on his right. Not many secrets as to what is the strategy.
Hijo Galante (Ed Moger, William Antongeorgi, 7/2): The best maiden win of the NorCal runners as Antongeorgi rode him to a 7-length win on June 26. As mentioned above his time was a second better than either Highland Ghost or Stanford Bay. He was third for the first half of his maiden score in the four-house field before going wide and romping to the win. Figures to get the chance for a nice stalking trip in this spot.
Heaven Shines (Jonathan Wong, Evin Roman, 10/1): The other Wong entry in this field, he actually broke his maiden back on May 7 at Golden Gate Fields before the connections sent him south for a stakes June 20 at Santa Anita. They had issues loading the horse into the gate then he went out and finished last, beaten 21 lengths. It appears the horse wants the lead based on the maiden score, but it will be interesting to see if Wong wants to put both of his horses on the lead.
Thirsty Always (Walther Solis, Cesar Ortega, 8/1): The second of the Solis runners and comes off his one start – a winner in a maiden race. He went wire-to-wire, but never led by more than a neck throughout the race. The horse appears to have heart, but I think is just a notch below his stablemate as Baze chooses to ride Mr. T’s Thirsty.
Drinking Again (Ed Moger, Armando Ayuso, 10/1): One of the two Moger horses in the race. This one scored in his debut at Golden Gate Fields, beating Hijo Galante in the process. It will be his second start overall and the first over dirt, but he seems like he deserves a bit more respect than 10/1, especially with Hijo Galante sitting a 7/2 on the morning line. This one came on down the lane, so you might have another looking for a stalking trip.
Love Candy (Ed Moger, Francisco Duran, 12/1): Showed resolve coming from off the pace to score in his debut May 28 at Golden Gate Fields, beating Highland Ghost in the process. He came from two-lengths back midway through the race to win by 2-plus lengths. Perfect post to tuck in at the start and save it for the stretch.
North Sea (Felix Rodan, Catalino Martinez, 15/1): The lone maiden in the race, his lone start saw him run fourth at Golden Gate Fields, finishing behind both Love Candy and Highland Ghost. Not much faith to see anything new happening here.
How it shakes out: It’s always tough to know what 2-year-olds are going to do, even if they have a race or two under their belts. It is easy to hand the race to Mr. T’s Thirsty and he probably will win the race, but where’s the fun with that. At 5-1/2 furlongs it figures that the fastest of the speed runners will cross the line first, but there is enough speed here where if one of the stalkers sits close enough to the lead, then gets an opening in the middle of the track, I could see someone running them down. I think watching the tote board is the key here as the morning lines will disappear and we’ll get a more accurate assessment of what the betting public feels about the race.