Wiseguys have called Aqueduct’s Remsen Stakes for two-year-olds a negative key race with respect to the following year’s Kentucky Derby, and the wiseguys have it right.
It might be hard for the NYRA to swallow but it’s been a quarter-century since the race produced its last Derby winner, Thunder Gulch in 1995, trained by Pletcher’s mentor, one Darrel Wayne Lukas.
The most recent Remsen victor to win the Kentucky Derby the following year was Thunder Gulch in 1995.
Meanwhile, Pletcher has won two since that time, with Bluegrass Cat in 2005 and Overanalyze seven years later.
This year, the future first ballot Hall of Famer will tighten the girth on Alpha SIxty Six Chase Tracker.
Alpha Sixty Six broke his maiden SEP 7 at Belmont Park then returned in the Grade 1 Champagne, where he finished fifth following a troubled trip. His strong gallop out after gives the connections confidence that today’s trip is a distance that should suit his style and temperament.
Pletcher’s other starter was a soundly beaten third in the G3 Nashua over the track. But the good news is that it came behind Independence Hall, one of the early Kentucky Future Book favorites. Johnny Velazquez will ride re former while Javier Castellano has the ride on Chase Tracker.
Meanwhile, current Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey will attempt to win his fifth Remsen with Amends and McGaughey admitted recently he’s not quite sure what to expect.
Amends showed improvement to break maiden in the slop but not being a great work horse it’s been hard for the trainer to draw a bead on the colt except that he’s a true distance type who will handle Saturday’s trip and farther.
However, it may be Kiaran McLaughlin’s colt that they all must beat. Showing little in his debut, Ajaaweed was a completely different horse when he got to Belmont. A visually impressive winner by 4-1/4 lengths, McLaughlin shipped him to Lexington for the G1 Breeders’ Futurity off relatively short rest.
He wound up beating more than half the 10-horse field but, like all the rest, he was no match for the Arazi-like middle move of Maxfield. The spacing is better into this, so are his works, and with Joel Rosario having a choice, he opted to stick with this guy. McLaughlin won the 2015 Remsen renewal with Mohaymen.
We’ll try to have it all figured out by tomorrow…