Although the Indian-bred Holding Court carries top weight going into the $150,000 Sycamore Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Keeneland Oct. 5, this 1 ½-mile event has drawn nine other horses seeking redemption after recent performances.
Even Holding Court has something to prove after his first attempt in the U.S., a sixth-place finish in the Sept. 3 Rossi Gold Stakes at 1 3/16 miles on the Arlington Park turf. While the 5-year-old son of Royal Kingdom (IRE) was a group I winner of 11 races in India, he has yet to display an affinity for American racing. It’s difficult to gauge from only one U.S. start, however, and trainer S. “Paddy” Padmanabhan may have Holding Court back to his winning ways for the Sycamore – especially considering that his top weight of 125 is far less than the most he’s carried in his career – a whopping 136 pounds for owner Harresh Mehta.
In to challenge Holding Court is George Arnold trainee Big Prairie, the second-place finisher behind Shakis in the 1 1/8-mile Bernard Baruch Handicap (gr. IIT) at Saratoga Aug. 25. The son of Danzig turned in a pair of allowance wins last winter for Dinwiddie Farm and spent nearly seven months on the sidelines between races following his last win in a Gulfstream Park allowance race Jan. 5. He came back with a fifth-place finish in the July 14 Bob Harding Handicap at Monmouth Park before improving to second in the Bernard Baruch.
Also coming out of the Bernard Baruch is Stronach Stables’ Silver Whistle, a son of Alphabet Soup. Before finishing eighth in that race, the Bill Mott trainee ran to third- and second-place finishes in the Bowling Green Handicap (gr. IIT) and an allowance optional claimer. His last victory came in the 2006 Pan American Handicap (gr. IIIT).
Trainer and co-owner John Glenney says Transduction Gold is well-prepared for his second start following a nearly 3 ½-month layoff for throat surgery on a paralyzed flap. The Formal Gold gelding returned to racing Sept. 7 with a fourth-place finish over the Polytrack at Turfway. Oct. 1, he breezed a half-mile in :48.60 over the Keeneland turf in preparation for the Sycamore.
The lone mare in the field, Louve des Reves (IRE), makes her first start since finishing eighth behind the boys in the May 26 Louisville Handicap (gr. III) over the Churchill Downs turf. One race prior, she won against her sex going 1 1/16-miles on the turf. A daughter of Sadler's Wells, She had previously raced to three wins from nine starts in France for owner Joseph Allen and trainer Patrick Biancone.
Also of interest is the H. Graham Motion trainee Flight Captain, a son of In the Wings (GB). Flight Captain posted back-to-back wins over the turf at Colonial and Tampa Bay Downs before finishing third in a Sept. 3 allowance race over the Tapeta surface at Presque Isle Downs for owner Earle Mack.
$150,000 Sycamore Stakes (gr. III, Race 8, approximate post 4:45 p.m.), 1 ½-miles for 3-year-olds and upward, turf
PP, Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Holding Court, 125, Calvin Borel
2. Desert Wheat, 120, Corey Lanerie
3. Transduction Gold, 120, James Graham
4. Louve des Reves, 117, Julien Leparoux
5. Flight Captain, 120, Garrett Gomez
6. Dreadnaught, 120, Robby Albarado
7. Big Prairie, 120, Javier Castellano
8. Silver Whistle, 122, Kent Desormeaux
9. Bee Charmer, 120, Shaun Bridgmohan
10. Crown Point, 120, Rafael Bejarano