CZAR ALEX LOOKS TO PULL OFF BIG UPSET IN FRIDAY’S JOHN HENRY STAKES

With a purse of $60,000 on the line, some accomplished runners are set to assemble for the mile and three-eighths John Henry Stakes on the Meadowlands turf course this Friday night. One runner in there can’t boast of his past visits to the winner’s circle or his tries against graded stakes runners and that’s Czar Alex, a maiden who’s stepping way up in competition. And although his resume isn’t as prolific as many of his rivals, Czar Alex may have an ace up his sleeve * being conditioned by Glenn Thompson.

Earlier this year the Thompson barn pulled off the biggest upset of the Monmouth Park meeting when they sent Two Notch Road to the post for the Continental Mile. Dismissed at 107-1 at the betting windows, Two Notch Road rallied up the rail to break his maiden in a stakes race and now Glenn Thompson is hoping lightning strikes twice this year as Czar Alex tries for the same feat in the John Henry.

“It’s a longshot, we certainly know that,” said the trainer, who conditions Czar Alex for Fox Tree. “He’s a very tough horse to gallop, he’ll run off on you, but he doesn’t seem to get tired. I’ve wanted to try him long, but nothing has come up past a mile and a sixteenth, so we’re taking our shot in here.”

One thing going for Czar Alex could be his running style. The 3-year-old gelding by Private Interview from the Castle Guard mare Sister Luke appears to do his best running when on the front end, and based on the running lines of his foes, he may find himself dictating the fractions on his terms.

On Friday night Czar Alex will get the return services of apprentice rider Jacqueline Davis.

“We don’t get the weight off for the stakes,” Thompson said. “But Jackie knows this horse and does a good job with him. A few years back [2003] we won a stakes with Moorish Prince and that was Michael Baze’s first stakes win when he was a bug rider. Hopefully we’ll do it again.”

While Czar Alex hails from the same barn as Two Notch Road, the latter is currently in Virginia, taking the winter off.

“After his race in Saratoga we decided to give him time off,” said Thompson of his stakes winner Two Notch Road. “He’s eating grass in Virginia where he was born and he’ll head down to Aiken (South Carolina) for the winter. We’ll look to bring him back next spring.”

The entire field, along with rider assignments, for Friday night’s John Henry Stakes is:

1. Dubai Review (David Cohen)
2. Dubai Gold (Paco Lopez)
3. Southwest (Rosemary Homeister Jr.)
4. Independent George (Nelson Desouza)
5. Giant Chieftan (Joe Bravo)
6. Undisputed Point (Francisco Maysonett)
7. My Man Lars (Eddie Castro)
8. Expansion (Rajiv Maragh)
9. Picou (Jose Lezcano)
10. Talkin About Love (Daniel Centeno)
11. New Fandan (Maylan Studart)
12. Rockaby Bay (Kendrick Carmouche)
13. Czar Alex (Jacqueline Davis)
14. Out At Night (Joseph Rocco Jr.)