July 17, 2024

Rockefeller seeks New York triumph in Nashua

Belmont Park (Susie Raisher/Coglianese Photography)

Nashua S. (G3) — Race 9 (3:43 p.m. ET)

The results of Friday’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Del Mar could give a significant form boost to Rockefeller ahead of Sunday’s $150,000 Nashua S. (G3) at Belmont Park.

A debut winner at Del Mar in late August, Rockefeller weakened to fourth in the American Pharoah (G1) at Santa Anita last time after chasing eventual winner Corniche, a fellow Bob Baffert trainee. Corniche, along with American Pharoah-placed rivals Pappacap and Oviatt Class, were among the leading contenders in the Juvenile.

The Shug McGaughey-trained Judge Davis figures to attract significant support off of Sept. 24 maiden win over a muddy Belmont strip. Fourth to eventual Iroquois (G3) winner Major General first out, the Distorted Humor colt appreciated the step up in trip from six furlongs to 1 1/16 miles in his graduation victory.

“I think stretching him out in distance and getting that experience helped him,” McGaughey said. “I’d like to see how he does here and then start thinking about two turns.”

The six-horse Nashua field includes several other stakes veterans. Speaking has convincingly won both of his starts to date at Monmouth Park, including the six-furlong Smoke Glacken S. The stakes-placed Midnight Worker returns to the dirt following a fourth-place finish in the Futurity (G3) on grass, while Cook Creek exits a victory in the one-mile Rocky Run S. at Delaware Park.

The field for the one-mile Nashua is rounded out by Cairama, a Sept. 17 debut winner for Steve Asmussen. Cairama is by Cairo Prince, the 2013 Nashua winner.

This is the fourth time, and the first in a decade, that Belmont will play host to the Nashua, which has also been won in the past by the likes of Pine Bluff, Coronado’s Quest, Bluegrass Cat, To Honor and Serve, and Violence. The opening of the Aqueduct fall meet, originally scheduled for this weekend, was recently pushed back to Nov. 11.

The supporting feature on Sunday is the $150,000 Zagora S., a 1 1/2-mile grass test for fillies and mares. The field includes multiple graded winner Always Shopping, Grade 3 heroine Orglandes, and 2020 Zagora runner-up Hungry Kitten.