January 23, 2018

Americanize seeking first graded win in Midnight Lute

Americanize earned his first stakes tally leading wire to wire in the Damascus (c) Benoit Photo

Americanize looks like a sprinter to be reckoned with in 2018 but is still lacking a graded stakes victory on his resume. He’s eligible to clear that hurdle in Saturday’s $100,000 Midnight Lute (G3) at Santa Anita.

One of three graded stakes along with the $300,000 American Oaks (G1) and $100,000 Robert J. Frankel (G3), the Midnight Lute features a nine-horse field at 6 ½ furlongs.

Americanize needed some time before developing into a stakes performer, making eight starts at the maiden or allowance level, and defeated subsequent Malibu (G1) winner City of Light when taking an October 7 allowance/optional claimer at Santa Anita. The 4-year-old gelding then stepped up to capture his stakes debut in sharp fashion, leading wire to wire recording a 2 ¼-length decision in the Damascus on the Breeders’ Cup Friday undercard.

Simon Callaghan shipped Americanize east for the December 2 Cigar Mile (G1) at Aqueduct and Americanize performed admirably in the first graded attempt, weakening to fourth behind Sharp Azteca after coming under extreme pressure on the front end. That marked the first time from nine dirt starts the son of Concord Point finished worse than second and he figures to relish the class drop Saturday.

His recent BRIS Speed numbers (104-102) are commendable and Americanize will probably be the one to catch with Rafael Bejarano.

Masochistic returns from a 238-day layoff under the care of new trainer Bob Baffert. A three-time graded winner, the California-bred gelding opened 2017 with a second in March’s Triple Bend (G1) and was last seen finishing 13th as the favorite in the Churchill Downs Sprint (G2) on the Kentucky Derby undercard. He’s a top contender based on back form, but Masochistic will be 8 in a couple of days and hasn’t won in more than 16 months ago. We’ll see if he still has it with Drayden Van Dyke taking over the riding duties.

Calculator finished second to Giant Expectations in the Pat O’Brien (G2) two back and exits a seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1). The dedicated closer hasn’t won a stakes race in some time, but he always has a puncher’s chance and must be considered a serious contender for a minor award. Tyler Baze will be up for Steven Miyadi.

Other runners include stakes victor Silent Bird, who will make his first start since a third in the Pat O’Brien; and multiple Cal-bred stakes winner Smokey Image.

The Robert J. Frankel will be held at 1 1/8 miles on turf and Chad Brown has two of the six runners, with Penjade and Elysea’s World accompanying their American Oaks-bound stablemates New Money Honey and Rymska to Santa Anita.

Penjade exits a victory in the November 25 Forever Together at Aqueduct and has won four of her last five starts. Irad Ortiz Jr. will guide the 4-year-old filly. Elysea’s World is seeking her first graded tally after placing in five graded events this season (three seconds and two thirds) and Javier Castellano rides.

Trainer Neil Drysdale will try derail the Brown duo with Responsibleforlove, who has finished third in the Rodeo Drive (G1) and second in the Red Carpet (G2) in her last two outings.

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