Saturday will be a day of firsts for Crafty Unicorn when trainer Dennis Manning tries him on the dirt, at the distance of a flat mile, and in allowance company for the first time in the colt’s young career.
“If you don’t try you’ll never know whether he’ll like it,” said the veteran horseman, who will run Crafty Unicorn on Monmouth’s main track in the featured $32,000 allowance/optional claiming race. “But if you look at his breezes on the track, he’s done very well on the dirt.”
Since then, he has never competed in anything other than stakes races on the turf or traveled a distance shorter than 1 1/16 mile. Crafty Unicorn finished third in three successive events, the $75,000 Sophomore Turf Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, the $60,000 Lamplighter Stakes at Monmouth and the $60,000 Jersey Derby also at Monmouth. Last time out, in the $60,000 Restoration Stakes here, he set the pace but weakened and faded to fifth.
On Saturday, he turns back from 1 1/8 miles to 1 mile and drops down into the allowance ranks.
“I don’t know if it’s a drop in class for him or not,” said Manning. “It looks like a solid field to me.”
Speaking of looks, Crafty Unicorn is an especially handsome horse.
“He’s one of the best looking horses I’ve ever seen. When he went through the (auction) ring, I told myself that I had to have him,” said Manning, who paid $20,000 at the OBS 2011 sale for the colt who has already earned $82,500 in his five starts.
Gospel Lesson, Adduce, Nebikon, Disco Rhythm, Kid Sidney, Loving Dove and Esporon round out the field and all are experienced on the main track. Kid Sidney tried the turf for the first time in the Jersey Derby and finished fourth, right behind Crafty Unicorn. Last time out on Sept. 8, he was a solid second on the main track against this same class of horse.
“I took the blinkers off and I think that helped quite a bit,” said trainer Steve Hobby. “I don’t like the shorter distance, but I do think this is a nice spot for my horse.”
TIZ MIZ SUE HEADED TO THE GRADE 1 SPINSTER
After putting in another strong breeze in a solid pattern of workouts on Monmouth’s main track on Friday morning, trainer Steve Hobby confirmed that Tiz Miz Sue remains right on schedule to ship to Kentucky for her next start in the Grade 1 $500,000 Juddmonte Spinster Stakes at Keeneland on Sunday, October 7.
The Spinster is a “Win and You’re in” race for the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic. That means that if Tiz Miz Sue crosses under the wire first, she automatically qualifies and gets the cherry on top of having her entry fees paid plus a $10,000 travel stipend.
“She is working just great,” said trainer Steve Hobby, who stabled at Monmouth for the first time this year, after the 5-year-old mare breezed five furlongs in 1:02.40 to follow up on her bullet work at the same distance in 1:01.60 one week ago.
Tiz Miz Sue is a daughter of Tiz Now, the only horse to win back-to-back Breeders’ Cup Classics. She is enjoying the best year of her career while being campaigned exclusively in graded stakes and has won one of seven starts while finishing second four times and third once. Her only out of the money finish in 2012 was a fourth place effort last out in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign at Saratoga Race Course.
Hobby, whose main base is at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs. Arkansas, trains Tiz Miz Sue for CresRan Stable LLC.