Take the Points, narrow winner of the Secretariat Stakes (gr. IT) on Arlington Million (gr. IT) day, heads the field for the $300,000 Jamaica Handicap (gr. IT), one of three grade I features on the Belmont Park program Oct. 10.
Trained by Todd Pletcher for owners Starlight Partners, Take the Points is the 121-pound high weight among seven entered in the Jamaica, which is restricted to 3-year-olds going nine furlongs on Belmont's inner turf course. His leading challenger figures to be the fast-developing Courageous Cat , an ultra-impressive winner of the National Racing Hall of Fame Stakes (gr. IIT) at Saratoga in his last start for trainer Bill Mott.
Take the Points has been off for two months since capturing the Secretariat as the lukewarm favorite by a head over Irish invader Black Bear Island in a bumpy stretch run at Arlington Park. The win, over a turf course listed as "good," was the first stakes victory for the gray-roan son of Even the Score and snapped a five-race losing streak. Take the Points has won three of 10 starts while earning a field-leading $494,590.
Ridden to victory in the 1 1/4-mile Secretariat by Kent Desmormeaux, Take the Points will have Edgar Prado in the saddle for the Jamaica. Prado rode Take the Points in his other two wins and was also aboard for a close third-place finish in the Virginia Derby (gr. IIT) July 18. Take the Points drew post 6.
Pam and Martin Wygod's homebred Courageous Cat spanked the favored Straight Story -- who is also in the Jamaica field -- and eight others in the Hall of Fame Stakes, drawing off in the lane by 1 3/4 lengths over a firm course at Saratoga Aug. 14. The race was the graded stakes debut for the bay son of Storm Cat.
Courageous Cat brings a three-race winning streak into the Jamaica and will be ridden by Ramon Dominguez, replacing Desormeaux, who was aboard the colt for his last four races. Courageous Cat, who has won three of six starts and $181,300, gets two pounds from Take the Points and will break from post 2.
Richard Santulli's Straight Story, from the Alan Goldberg barn, finished ahead of Take the Points in both the Colonial Turf Cup (gr. IIT) and Virginia Derby, but lost both of those races by a head to Battle of Hastings. The New York-bred Giant's Causeway colt faded after leading in the Hall of Fame to finish eighth, but rebounded with a second-place effort against state breds in the Ashley T. Cole Handicap over "yielding" going at Belmont Sept. 13.
Straight Story figures to be part of a swift pace scenario with the big class jumpers Chapin Beach and Mr Sandman. He is still looking for his first stakes victory while winning two of eight starts and $319,590 in his career. Javier Castellano retains the mount for Goldberg and will guide Straight Story from the rail under 117 pounds.
Boots Ahead tries grade company for trainer George Weaver after a sharp 6 1/4-length win in Monmouth Park's Restoration Stakes over a firm course Sept. 2. Grassy won a first-level allowance heat as the favorite by a nose over soft going at Saratoga Aug. 22 and has consecutive wins for trainer Christophe Clement. Mr Sandman, from the Allen Jerkens barn, and the Mark Hennig-conditioned Chapin Beach, are both maiden winners.
$300,000 Jamaica Handicap (gr. IT, Race 4, 2:35 p.m.), 3-Year-Olds, 1 1/8 Miles (Inner Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Straight Story (NY), J Castellano, 117, A E Goldberg
2. Courageous Cat (KY), R A Dominguez, 119, W I Mott
3. Grassy (KY), C H Velasquez, 114, C Clement
4. Boots Ahead (KY), C H Marquez, Jr., 115, G Weaver
5. Chapin Beach (KY), J R Velazquez, 113, M A Hennig
6. Take the Points (KY), E S Prado, 121, T A Pletcher
7. Mr Sandman (GB), J F Chavez, 113, H A Jerkens