The two best sprinters in Saturday’s $100,000 Bold Ruler Handicap (gr. III) have at least one thing in common: they both have not raced since August. Despite their vacations, Anew and Songster’s 2006 campaigns make them the horses to beat in six-furlong heat.
Songster will be the clear favorite Saturday over Anew and three other rivals in the Bold Ruler. In the middle of 2006, Songster won a pair of stakes, the Hirsch Jacobs (gr. III) at Pimlico and the Woody Stephens Breeders’ Cup (gr. II) on Belmont Stakes day.
In his final two starts of 2006, Songster disappointed at Saratoga. Sent off an overwhelming favorite in the Amsterdam (gr. II), the Songandaprayer colt relented to outsider Court Folly. Then, in the King’s Bishop (gr. I) a month later, he faded to be a well-beaten fifth after making an early three-wide move.
Last year, Songster was campaigned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum’s Darley Stable and trained by Tom Albertrani. For 2007, Songster has been moved to the Sheikh’s Godolphin Stable and is being trainer by Saeed bin Suroor and his top guy in New York, Rick Mettee.
“Tommy (Albertrani) gave him a break after Saratoga last year,” Mettee said. “I don’t think there was anything particularly wrong with him, but Tommy felt he was tailing off after facing some pretty tough horses.”
Mettee thinks Songster will put together a strong four-year-old season and likes what he has seen in the colt’s training.
“He’s another one of those speed horses who is generous in his workouts,” Mettee said. “He had a real good breeze here the other day (four furlongs in :47 2/5, handily, May 4), so I expect him to come out running.”
Edgar Prado rode Songster last year in all his starts and retains the mount on the 117-pound Bold Ruler highweight.
Chrome Cowboy Racing Stable’s Anew went from being a $25,000 claimer in 2006 to a grade II stakes winner in less than four months.
The son of Awesome Again , gelded in the beginning of last year, rattled off consecutive wins in a $25,000 claimer, a second-level allowance and a starter handicap. Anew then led all the way to score a sharp 3 1/2-length win in the True North (gr. II).
Like Songster, Anew tailed off in his final two starts of 2006, finishing a distant fourth in the Tom Fool (gr. II) and then sixth in Monmouth’s Teddy Drone, where he stumble at the start and grabbed a quarter.
John Velazquez picks up the mount for trainer Steve Asmussen on Anew, who will carry 116 pounds and break right outside Songster in post three.
$100,000 Bold Ruler Handicap (gr. III, Race 8, 4:45 p.m.), 3 & Up, 6 Furlongs
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Dashboard Drummer (OK), 113, Cornelio H. Velasquez
2. Songster (FL), 117, Edgar S. Prado
3. Anew (KY), 116, John R. Velazquez
4. Pavo (KY), 114, Alan Garcia
5. Dark Cheetah (PA), 114, Garrett K. Gomez