Grade 1 hero Takaful faces five rivals on Saturday at Aqueduct while making his four-year-old debut in the $100,000 Toboggan Stakes (G3) under jockey Trevor McCarthy.
The Kiaran McLaughlin trainee was last seen finishing last of 10 in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) at Del Mar on November 4. Before that, though, the dark bay son of Bernardini captured the Vosburgh Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park in late September and was a nice second in the H. Allen Jerkens Stakes (G1) (formerly King’s Bishop) at Saratoga in August.
Takaful has recorded five works since his subpar Breeders’ Cup performance. Of those, three were bullet moves, including his most recent five-furlong breeze in :59.90 on Monday over Belmont’s fast dirt training track.
Lining up against Takaful are Green Gratto and Life in Shambles, the respective winner and fourth-place runner in last year’s Toboggan.
Green Gratto wired the 2017 edition of this race by a head for co-owner and trainer Gaston Grant. That was one of the New Jersey-bred’s pair of wins on the year, with the second coming in the Carter Handicap (G1) two races later. The dark bay son of Here’s Zealous would not finish in the money again for the remainder of the year, which comprised eight stakes including the Vosburgh.
Last seen running fifth in the December 23 Gravesend Stakes and sixth in the Fall Highweight Handicap (G3) a month earlier, Green Gratto is set to make his eight-year-old debut going for a title defense in the Toboggan under jockey Chris DeCarlo.
Life in Shambles has yet to claim a stakes victory, but has been close for trainer Steve Asmussen. The Broken Vow gelding also competed in the Gravesend and Fall Highweight, doing much better than Green Gratto when second and third, respectively. His fourth behind Green Gratto in last year’s Toboggan came by only a length, and the seven-year-old gray gets Manuel Franco in the irons as he tries to do better than that rival yet again.
Completing the Toboggan field are Great Stuff, third in the Dave’s Friend Stakes in his seasonal bow three weeks ago; stakes-placed Vulcan’s Forge; and Summer Revolution, who is seeking his first stakes credit in this spot.