Victorious in a pair of stakes on turf at Gulfstream Park this winter, including the Grade 3 Palm Beach in March, Howe Great was fifth in Keeneland’s Grade 1 Blue Grass in April, his first start on a synthetic surface. He returned to turf for his most recent start, finishing third in the Grade 2 American Turf on May 4 at Churchill Downs after breaking outwardly.
Motion entered Howe Great in Wednesday’s Oliver Stakes at Indiana Downs before scratching the colt, noting that he didn’t want the son of Hat Trick to face American Turf winner Silver Max again and spot weight to most of his opponents.
Alan Garcia will ride Howe Great, the 3-1 morning-line favorite, from post position 9 in the field of 11.
Also coming out of the American Turf is GDS Racing Stable’s Star Channel, who was unplaced after losing his rider on the far turn. The race snapped his three-race win streak that included a score in a Florida-bred stakes on April 7 at Tampa Bay Downs.
“We’re not 100 percent sure what happened, but he finished the race without a jockey,” said trainer Todd Pletcher. “We’ve regrouped with him and the horse is in good physical order. We’ll try again. His races three prior were quite good, and we hope to rebound from [his last race].”
Star Channel, 6-1 on the morning line, will leave from post 10 with Joe Bravo aboard.
Also representing Pletcher in the Hill Prince is Mike Repole’s Our Entourage, who was fifth of six runners in an optional claimer for 3-year-olds and up on May 13 at Belmont.
“He’s run pretty well on [dirt, turf, and synthetic], but we’re hoping getting back in with 3-year-olds on turf will help him give his best effort,” said Pletcher. “That was a pretty salty group he faced last time.”
Eddie Castro has the assignment aboard Our Entourage, also 6-1, from post 8.
Summer Front, owned by Waterford Stable, will be making his first start on turf since his 1 ½-length victory in the Dania Beach in December at Gulfstream Park. Since that race, he was second in the Grade 3 Lexington on Keeneland’s Polytrack in April and eighth on dirt in Belmont’s Grade 2 Peter Pan on May 12.
“It was a disappointing effort on dirt in the Peter Pan,” said trainer Christophe Clement. “He came back and had two works on turf [five furlongs around dogs in a bullet 59.84 on June 3 and five furlongs around dogs in 1:03.15 on June 10]. New York is always competitive, so we’ll see what happens.”
Clement said that while he is “taking it one race at a time” with Summer Front, the son of War Front likely will remain on turf going forward.
Summer Front, the 7-2 second choice, will depart from the rail with Ramon Dominguez at the helm.
Lael Stables’ Margano, a 3-year-old full-brother to Barbaro, will make his graded stakes debut when he stretches out in the Hill Prince. Most recently, he closed to finish second, beaten a half-length, in the seven-furlong Tiller overnight stakes on turf at Belmont on May 20. Junior Alvarado will ride Margano (5-1, post 2) for the first time in the Hill Prince.
The field also includes Big Screen, fifth in the Peter Pan; Film Shot, winner of a Churchill Downs allowance on May 3; Spring to the Sky, who will make his turf debut off a second in a Belmont optional claimer on May 24; Mr. Handsome, third in the James W. Murphy on May 19 at Pimlico; Shkspeare Shaliyah, the 2011 Grade 3 Pilgrim winner who was sixth in the Murphy; and Monarchic, who took an allowance for Pennsylvania-breds on May 26 at Presque Isle Downs. Swag Daddy, Le Bernadin, and Easter Gift were entered for the main track only.