A top-notch group of eight older runners are set to race 12 furlongs in the $300,000 Northern Dancer Turf Stakes (GIT).
Wake Forest, who is one of the two Chad Brown-trained runners, won the Man o’ War Stakes (GIT) in May and was second in the United Nations Handicap (GIT) before a troubled trip in the Arlington Million (GIT) produced a 10th-place finish. A stone-cold closer, he will need plenty of pace to run at to reach the wire in front.
Brown’s other runner, Big Blue Kitten, won last year’s United Nations and Turf Classic Invitational (GIT), and was also second in the Arlington Million behind The Pizza Man. After a third-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Turf and a lengthy winter break, he’s failed to have any impact in his two graded starts this year. He’d need to revert to old form to be a factor.
This year’s United Nations winner, World Approval, appears to be the lone speed in the race and while helpful, he seems suited to shorter distances and may have trouble carrying his speed to make it to the wire in front with a field of talented runners closing from behind. The top team of trainer Mark Casse and jockey Julien Leparoux partner with this runner and, if he takes to the predicted soft turf, he has a strong shot to pick up a larger share of the purse.
Last year’s Hollywood Turf Cup (GIT) winner The Pizza Man hasn’t shown much in four starts since and while some say the now 7-year-old gelding may have lost a step, his best makes him a strong factor for the win. He’s accomplished over soft turf and has been training well at his home base of Arlington, so he deserves an extra long look before heading to the windows.
British-bred Button Down, the lone female in the group, will face males again after finishing second in the Nijinsky Stakes (GIIT) and fourth in the Sky Classic Stakes (GIIT). She’s faced some tough ladies in her career, including Tepin, and while she’s loaded with talent, this distance may be a tad too far for her preference.
Charles Fipke’s Danish Dynaformer has won two of four turf starts over the course and is a stalker, which should help assure a decent pace. He’s one from the powerful Attfield-trained stable of runners and his best gives him a strong chance at a victory.
Camp Creek is the lone sophomore of the bunch and won the Breeders’ Stakes (GIT) in upset fashion in his last. He’s improving, but may be a little short against a bunch like this to pick up the victory. Majeed makes his North American debut for trainer David Simcock. He appears to have a versatile running style, which will help depending on how the pace sets up, and is in good hands with top Euro jockey Jamie Spencer in the irons.
The field for the Northern Dancer, which is the 10th on the day, is expected to leave the gate at 5:34 p.m. ET.