Adriano Favored in Wide-Open Kent Stakes
Three of the top four finishers in the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes (gr. IIT) will meet again Aug. 30, this time in the $500,000 Kent Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Delaware Park.
Despite finishing fourth behind current entrants Wesley and Deal Making, who finished first and third, respectively, in the Aug. 4 Hall of Fame at Saratoga, Donald Adam’s Adriano was installed as the 5-2 morning-line favorite. A son of A.P. Indy, Adriano finished 19th in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) May 3, but seems to more at home on the grass. The Kent, which attracted a field of 11 3-year-olds, is a 1 1/8-mile event on the turf.
Also worth consideration are European invader Luck Money, who won his American debut earlier in the month at Saratoga, and Steve Asmussen trainee Ablaze With Spirit, a Texas-bred colt who has never been off the board in four grass starts.
Going off as the even-money favorite in the nine-furlong Hall of Fame, Adriano had a legitimate excuse for falling a length short of Wesley, as he was blocked along the inside in the final sixteenth despite being full of run under Edgar Prado. Meanwhile, after being last through a half-mile, Wesley entered the stretch with a five-wide move and was able to run down pacesetter Thou Swell in the final strides.
Prior to the Hall of Fame, Adriano was a well-beaten fifth in the Colonial Turf Cup (gr. IIIT), which was his first start since transferring from Graham Motion's barn to that of Bill Mott. With a 3-1-0 record from 10 starts, Adriano’s biggest win came in the Lane’s End Stakes (gr. II) March 22 on Turfway Park Polytrack.
Bred in Kentucky by Courtlandt Farm and out of the Mr. Prospector mare Gold Canyon, Adriano will be ridden by Kent Desormeaux for the first time.
Willmott Stables’ Wesley will be looking for his third consecutive victory since trainer Mark Hennig moved him to the grass. The son of El Prado is 3-2-0 from 10 starts overall, and will have Javier Castellano in the irons once again. This time, he will have to break from post 11.
Although he does not train Adriano anymore, Motion still has a good chance in this race with Augustin Stable’s Pennsylvania homebred Deal Making. Like Adriano, Deal Making had a troubled trip in the Hall of Fame but still finished only a half-length behind the winner. It was the first loss in four career starts for the son of Empire Maker. Previously, he won the Stanton Stakes July 1 at Delaware. Motion conditions him at nearby Fair Hill Training Center.
"He was definitely a little unlucky (in the Hall of Fame)," Motion said. "Ramon (Dominguez) could not get him out until a little too late, but a couple of other horses in the race could say the same thing. He still put forth a very good effort. To be honest, he has been a huge surprise to me. Stepping up from winning the overnight stake at Delaware to running in a graded race was a huge jump, and he responded to the challenge well."
Breaking from the rail, Dominguez will be in the irons once again.
Stephanie Smith’s Luck Money will be stretching out past a mile for the first time. The Todd Pletcher trainee stalked the pace and made a nice inside move to get up by a half-length in the Aug. 1 Majestic Light Stakes at Saratoga in his American debut. Bred in Ireland, Luck Money was 2-0-1 in five starts while racing in England and Ireland. The third-place finish was especially impressive, as he finished just three parts of a length back of multiple group I stakes winner Henrythenavigator as a juvenile in the six-furlong Coventry Stakes (Eng-II) at Ascot.
Heiligbrodt Racing Stable’s Ablaze With Spirit has been third in consecutive grass efforts, the last one on the soft turf in the July 12 American Derby (gr. IIT) at Arlington Park. In that one, the son of American Spirit rallied four-wide in the stretch but could not catch speedy frontrunner Tizdejavu. Ablaze With Spirit will be starting at his eighth different racetrack in the Kent. He is 2-2-4 from 10 starts thus far.
$500,000 Kent Stakes (gr. IIIT, Race 8, 3:54 p.m.), Three-Year-Olds, 1 1/8 Miles (Turf)
The Kent Stakes is Featured on this week's That Handicapping Show.
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