10.45 Aqueduct: Group 3 Jockey Club Derby, 1m 4f
This is a rather poor Group 3 turf race even by US standards, which is the reason why two questionable stayers head the market.
Godolphin’s Nations Pride and Classic Causeway have met twice over shorter middle-distance trips as part of the Caesars Turf Triple Series this season, with an even split of victories.
Nations Pride, as a son of Teofilo, is odds-on and expected to stretch out over 12 furlongs after his recent excellent Saratoga Derby success.
On the ever turning Aqueduct inner turf track on firm ground there is a solid possibility he will do get the trip. He’s not unbeatable, though, his price (possibly) still driven by early season reputation when he was an English Derby contender.
I doubt Classic Causeway will find this race distance wise and tactically difficult. On the other hand the German raider Ardakan is probably underestimated here.
Obviously he won’t lack stamina. In fact he’ll relish going up in distance. He won the Derby Italiano over 1m 3f earlier this year where he showed a lot of guts, and then finished like a train in the German Derby.
Especially the Hamburg performance is noteworthy. This was a pretty good renewal but Ardakan had a troubled day. His wide draw didn’t do him any favours. As a consequence he had tons to do turning for home. I reckon, on another day Ardakan would have gone seriously close.
He was not disgraced when third in the Group 1 Großer Preis von Berlin subsequently. I though the race wasn’t quite ran to his liking, with a somewhat muddling pace. More aggressive tactics would have helped.
The firm ground is a concern today, given he has not encountered it before. In contrast some of his best performances came on much softer. On the other hand he did just fine on genuinely good ground. That’s gives hope.
I do hope Andrasch Starke will move forward, utilizing the stamina this son of Reliable Man clearly possesses, making this race a test of stamina, rather than one of speed.
If he does so, and possibly even can get first run hitting the home straight, Ardakan won’t be stopping anytime soon and could be difficult to get to for the rest in this field, as they stamina may run out.
Btw. this race is usually run at Belmont. Due to building works there this race, as others, have moved to Aqueduct. A few years ago I went there on a trip to New York. It was a cold December day. A bit of snow on the ground and in the air. Racing took place on the inner dirt track.
It was one of the bleakest days I’ve ever spent at a racetrack. Aqueduct is a massive place, but it was so sparsely attended on the day. It felt so empty, nearly ghost like – apart from a bustling Casino attached to the stand. It was a completely different sort of atmosphere to the usually much more colourful and interesting atmosphere encountered in the UK and Ireland.
10pts win – Ardakan @ 7/2