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NJC, Sixty Sails ‘Caps Headline Saturday's Stakes

NJC, Sixty Sails ‘Caps Headline Saturday's Stakes

By M. Scott McMannis

Stake racing returns to Hawthorne Race Course on Saturday with a pair of Grade 3 handicaps, the National Jockey Club and the Sixty Sails (fillies and mares), both at the distance of nine furlongs.

Nominees for the NJC are headed by a trio of horses exiting the G3 Excelsior Breeders’ Cup Handicap contested at Aqueduct on April 1.

Top nominee is West Virginia, winner of the Excelsior.  West Virginia earned an Equibase Speed Figure (ESF) of 126 in winning the Excelsior, a career-best ESF for West Virginia and the highest ESF in the list of nominees.  The ESF is the speed figure found in this track program. 

Colita finished third by three lengths to West Virginia in the Excelsior.  In so doing Colita earned an ESF of 122, second-best on the nominee list.

Evening Attire is the third NJC ‘Cap nominee exiting the Excelsior.  Of interest to local fans is the fact that Evening Attire is a son of Black Tie Affair, local hero in the early ‘90’s who was trained by Ernie Poulos and won the Breeders’ Cup Classic and Horse of the Year honors.  Evening Attire is the only millionaire on the list of nominees with earnings of $2,524,141.

Local hopefuls on the list include Air Academy, Nkosi Reigns, and Winvictus.

Air Academy is two-for-two this year with two allowance wins at Hawthorne.  In his wins Air Academy put up ESF’s of 109 to 111. 

Nkosi Reigns finished third to Air Academy in their last race and earned an ESF of 105.  Nkosi Reigns should improve in his second start of the year and has career-best figures of 111-116 that would place him more in contention in the NJC ‘Cap.

Winvictus is also two-for-two for the year.  He earned an ESF of 109 in his last race.

The Sixty Sails list of nominees is headed by Fleet Indian who is perfect at the distance and comes in off a three-race win streak.  In her last race she earned an ESF of 118, best of the nominees.  That was her first start of the year, so she should be at a form peak for the Sixty Sails.

As in the NJC ‘Cap, the Sixty Sails has three nominees exiting the same race, the Rampart Handicap (G2) at Oaklawn.  Heading the threesome is Oonagh Maccool, winner of the Rampart with an ESF of 108.  Oonagh Maccool has improved with each U.S. race, despite steadying at the start in the Rampart.

Classy Charm finished third by nine lengths to Oonagh Maccool in the Rampart, earning a 94 ESF.  Her career best is a 108.

Eyes On Eddy finished fifth by 12 lengths in the Rampart, but is better than that race showed as she was forced to steady on the first turn.  Her best ESFs of 108-110 place her in position to take a part of the Sixty Sails.

Not to be overlooked, should her connections decide to enter her in the Sixty Sails, is Platinum Ballet.  In her last start Platinum Ballet finished fourth in the Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) and third in the Azeri Breeders’ Cup (G3).  Both races are features at Oaklawn Park.  Her ESFs of 108-109 place her solidly in contention in the Sixty Sails.

The Saturday card, including the NJC ‘Cap and the Sixty Sails, will be determined on Tuesday.  Stay tuned to the Hawthorne web site (hawthorneracecourse.com) for updates.  Next Saturday’s program cover will feature a final handicapping analysis based on known entrants.

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