Kid Cruz, overpowered in the Preakness (gr. I) this spring but a sparkling winner last time out in the Easy Goer, returns to Belmont Park in the $200,000 Dwyer Stakes (gr. III) July 5.
Six are entered in the Dwyer, with Kid Cruz drawing the rail and the top weight assignment of 121 pounds, six more than each of his rivals. The one-turn, 1 1/16-mile event for 3-year-olds, race 4 with a tentative post time of 2:56 p.m. EDT, is the first of five graded stakes on Saturday's Belmont Park Independence Day weekend program. A grade II race since 1989 (it was a grade I from 1983-88), the Dwyer was reduced a grade for this year's renewal.
Kid Cruz was piloted by Irad Ortiz Jr. to a sharp off-the-pace score by 3 1/4 lengths in the 1 1/16-mile Easy Goer June 7 for trainer Linda Rice and owners Vina Del Mar Thoroughbreds and Black Swan Stable. He returns to the same track and distance in the Dwyer and will have Ortiz aboard once again.
The Lemon Drop Kid colt won both the Private Terms and Federico Tesio stakes at Pimlico Race Course before showing little in an eighth-place effort in the Preakness May 17, finishing 16 lengths behind the victorious California Chrome. Kid Cruz has four wins and a second from seven lifetime starts and leads the Dwyer field in earnings with $248,375.
A couple of up-and-coming sophomores, Tiz Dark and New York-bred Captain Serious, appear to be the leading challengers.
Starlight Racing's Tiz Dark left his four rivals far behind in a 6 3/4-length maiden romp over the track as an overwhelming 3-20 favorite at the Dwyer distance May 25. The son of Tiznow was second in his only other start three weeks earlier at Belmont.
Tiz Dark has not been out since his maiden score for trainer Todd Pletcher, returning to the worktab June 15 with the first of three solid breezes coming into Saturday's Dwyer. John Velazquez has the return call from post 5.
Pletcher last won the Dwyer in 2007 with Any Given Saturday.
Barry Schwartz's Captain Serious is unbeaten in three outings for trainer Michael Hushion, all when favored, including a front-running three-length tally in the Mike Lee Stakes at Belmont May 31. The Dwyer will not only be the Successful Appeal gelding's first try against open company, it is also his first beyond seven furlongs. Juan Ortiz rides.
Ulanbator made a mild charge to finish second at 9-1 odds in the Matt Winn Stakes (gr. III) June 14 at Churchill Downs, two lengths behind the heavily favored Triple Crown contender Tapiture. That was the stakes debut for the homebred son for Offlee Wild , trained by Ian Wilkes for Mary Ann Charlston. Ulanbator, who broke his maiden by a nose going a mile at Gulfstream Park in March, will have Julien Leparoux back aboard for his Belmont debut.
Spot posted a 2 1/2-length upset in the seven-furlong Swale (gr. II) at Gulfstream March 1, but has been buried in three subsequent starts. Trained by Hall of Fame conditioner Nick Zito for Joseph H. Moss, the gray Pulpit gelding will stretch out following a labored ninth at 65-1 in the Woody Stephens Stakes (gr. II) June 7 at Belmont. Zito won the Dwyer in 2010 with Fly Down.
Gaining Ground, an allowance winner at Calder Casino & Race Course, makes his graded stakes debut for trainer Michael Wilson.
$200,000 Dwyer Stakes (gr. II, Race 4, 2:56 p.m.), 3YOs, 1 1/16 Miles
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Kid Cruz (KY), I Ortiz Jr., 121, L Rice
2. Spot (KY), J Lezcano, 115, N P Zito
3. Ulanbator (KY), J R Leparoux, 115, I R Wilkes
4. Captain Serious (NY), J L Ortiz, 115, M E Hushion
5. Tiz Dark (KY), J R Velazquez, 115, T A Pletcher
6. Gaining Ground (FL), C J Lanerie, 115, M Wilson