by Karen M. Johnson
The Nov. 10 Red Smith Handicap (gr. IIT) at Aqueduct will be run at a demanding 1 3/8 miles. The turf race also will prove to be a challenge to handicappers.
There are no standouts in the full field of 12 in the $150,000 Red Smith. Four horses landed on the also-eligible list.
The large turnout reflects the fact the Red Smith is the final graded turf event for males in New York this year. The wide-open flavor of the race can be seen through the weight assignments, which range only from a high of 117 to 113.
Trainer Marty Wolfson flew Golden Strategy from his Florida home base at Calder Race Course for the Red Smith. Golden Strategy, a 4-year-old with a win in a two-mile race, has only run once on the turf, but it was an effort that satisfied Wolfson.
Golden Strategy, a champion in Panama before racing in the United States this year, finished third in the 12-furlong Kentucky Cup Turf (gr. III) at Kentucky Downs Sept 22. In his next start, Golden Strategy walloped three overmatched rivals in a minor off-the-turf stakes at Calder Oct. 20.
Wolfson said the tight turns at Kentucky Downs didn’t help his colt, who get hung wide going into the first turn. “That first turn comes up quick and he lost position,” Wolfson said from Florida Nov. 8. “He is a better horse on the lead or close to it.”
Wolfson, who has engaged Eddie Castro to ride, said he believes it is a plus Golden Strategy is coming to New York from a warm climate. “I think that is a big edge,” said Wolfson, who won the Red Smith in 2001 with Mr. Pleasentfar.
Golden Strategy, a winner of 11 races from 15 starts, was purchased by Gainesway Farm and Joseph Cornacchia while he was running in Panama. Gainesway stands Strategic Mission, Golden Strategy’s sire. Golden Strategy drew post five.
Encinas, a stakes winner in Dubai, makes his second start off a layoff for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. Encinas finished fifth, beaten two lengths, in the Oct. 18 Awad Stakes at Belmont Park, which served as prep for several Red Smith runners.
Art Magnuson, McLaughlin’s assistant, believes Encinas will improve off the Awad, his first race since Feb. 9 in Dubai.
“He needed one that day and we were looking toward the next spot for him,” Magnuson said Nov. 8. “We expect him to run well.”
Alan Garcia rides Encinas from the rail.
Presious Passion is the 117-pound high weight. He won the Cliff Hanger (gr. IIIT) at Meadowlands in his last start. Stewart Elliott rides Presious Passion, who was guided to victory in the Cliff Hanger by Garcia.
Operation Red Dawn has been in top form this year for trainer Christophe Clement and exits a good effort on soft going in the Oct. 28 Knickerbocker Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Aqueduct.
Bee Charmer and Dreadnaught both ran in the Sycamore (gr. IIIT) at Keeneland Oct. 5. Bee Charmer was second after getting caught late; Dreadnaught, the 2004 Red Smith winner, was third.
The European invaders are Sunshine Kid, who hasn’t won a race since a maiden event in Great Britain 13 months ago, and Musketier, who was fifth in a group III race in France last month.