So, who's going to set the pace in Saturday's $500,000 Suburban Handicap? With only five horses expected to be entered, it appears obvious that someone is going to have to deviate from his normal running style to prevent all five horses from running head and head most of the way.
The 1 1/4-mile race will be headed by Massachusetts Handicap winner Macho Uno and last year's Woodward and Whitney winner Lido Palace, both confirmed come-from-behind horses. Right behind these two are multiple graded winner Evening Attire, second in the Mass Cap; and Brooklyn Handicap winner Seeking Daylight, both confirmed come-from-behind horses. Evening Attire, coming off a three-month layoff, did get rank and set a brutal pace in the Excelsior Handicap in April, in which he tired to finish fourth, but that's been the only time he's ever been anywhere near the lead.
The final horse is the outsider Country Be Gold, who comes from well out of it. Which brings us back to our original question: who is going to set the pace?
The truth is, no one has a clue. But it might be worth noting that Lido Palace has not run since early February and has been working very sharply. In last fall's Woodward, he was a length off a :46 3/5 half and 1:10 1/5 six furlongs. He was also close up in the Suburban Handicap, tracking the eventual winner Albert the Great. Therefore, it is altogether possible that Jerry Bailey may wind up on the lead with Lido Palace.
Gary Stevens will be aboard Macho Uno, who looks ready to catapult to the head of the class, along with Street Cry, who is bypassing the Suburban to wait for the Whitney. Of course, he's going to have to handle this talented bunch, and he'll have to earn everything he gets.
Evening Attire ran a bang-up race to be second in the Mass Cap, and who knows how good Seeking Daylight really is? If he can duplicate his Brooklyn effort over a fast track, then he could be the one who vaults into the spotlight.
Weight should not be a factor, with Macho Uno and Lido Palace carrying co-topweight of 119 pounds. Seeking Daylight picks up three pounds off his Brooklyn win, which is an awful lot these days, considering his last race was in the slop. He'll carry 116, two pounds more than Evening Attire. Country Be Gold is the lightweight with 112.
Saturday's other stakes race is the grade I Prioress Stakes for 3-year-old fillies going six furlongs. This should be a wide-open, competitive race, with several fillies bringing in excellent credentials.
Bobby Frankel sends out his recently acquired Drippingindiamonds, who is undefeated in three starts in Kentucky. The daughter of Pembroke won a seven-furlong allowance race at Churchill Downs by 4 1/2 lengths last out after breaking her maiden by 10 lengths at Turfway in a sizzling 1:09 2/5.
One filly who should get a lot of play is Wilzada after her half-length defeat to Nonsuch Bay in the Nassau County Stakes. The winner came back to win last week's Mother Goose Stakes. Prior to that race, Wilzada was undefeated in three starts for trainer Tony Dutrow.
New York-bred Carson Hollow, trained by Rich Dutrow, also is indefeated in three starts, winning the Bouwerie Stakes by five lengths in her last start. The daughter of Carson City won an open-company allowance race prior to that. Todd Pletcher sends out Proper Gamble, winner of her last three starts, including the Beaumont Stakes at Keeneland and the Cicada and Dearly Precious Stakes at Aqueduct.
Shipping in from Southern California is the Michael Machowsky-trained September Secret, four-length winner of the Railbird Stakes at Hollywood Park in her last start. Spring Meadow, trained by Bob Hess, is coming off a three-length allowance win at Belmont and a one-length victory in the Stonerside Stakes at Lone Star. Vesta has won her last three starts, including the Miss Preakness and Smart Halo Stakes at Pimlico.
Rounding out the field is Short Note, second to Bella Bellucci in the Comely Stakes last time out and second to Proper Gamble in the Cicada the race prior to that; and A New Twist, the beaten favorite in the Miss Preakness after six straight first- and second-place finishes, including a victory in the Old Hat Stakes at Gulfstream.