Wet conditions could impact Aqueduct’s Red Smith
By Bob Ehalt
There were 16 horses that were entered in Saturday’s $200,000 Red Smith Stakes, but it’s the last three in post position order that might wind up as the key players.
After Thursday’s snowfall, there’s a good chance that Aqueduct’s turf course may not be in the best of shape for the mile-and-three-eighths stakes. If that happens, and the race is taken off the grass course, then the three main track only entrants look to be the major players in the Grade 3 stakes.
Under that scenario, the three to watch would be Exulting (7-5), Control Group (2-1) and Adulator (4-1).
Exulting owns the most recent race, having won an off-the-turf stakes last Saturday, the Artie Schiller, by 2 ½ lengths for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. The main track was listed as “good” that day as Exulting won for the third time in four starts, with two of the victories coming in races that were switched from the turf to the dirt course.
Control Group, a New Yok State-bred, would love a sloppy track as he won by nearly 15 lengths on that kind of track at Finger Lakes in June.
Most recently, he was fifth in the $300,000 Empire Classic for state-breds at Belmont Park.
Adulator ships in from Laurel, where he registered a fourth-place finish and a win in a pair of allowance races. His previous win was in a $50,000 claimer at Saratoga.
Should the race stay on the turf, the ones to fear figure to be Focus Group (3-1), who rallied for third in the Grade 1 Canadian International, Zulu Alpha (5-2), a two-length winner of the mile-and-a-half Grade 3 Sycamore Stakes at Keeneland in his last start, and Call Provision (7-2), who was fourth in the Ashley T. Cole and should relish the 11-furlong distance.