Riding the River, a 6-year-old Wiseman's Ferry gelding trained by David Cotey for Dominion Bloodstock, HGHR Inc. and Linmac Farm, took the June 23 King Edward by a head over Bruce Lunsford's Valentino Beauty, who comes back in this spot as well for trainer Barbara Minshall. But Riding the River ran poorly in the July 21 Nijinsky—a race he won in 2012—finishing seventh in this season's edition after getting jostled in upper stretch.
Last year, Riding the River was runner-up in the Play the King to the recently retired Big Band Sound. He will break from post 6 under jockey Skye Chernetz and a highweight impost of 123 pounds.
Virginia-bred Go Blue Or Go Home, a 4-year-old Bluegrass Cat gelding who races for Jim and Susan Hill, is on a three-race win streak for trainer Reade Baker. Go Blue Or Go Home took the six-furlong Highlander on the all weather track July 7 after it was moved off the turf due to rain. He went wire-to-wire by 5 1/4 widening lengths after winning the June 10 Karl Boyes Memorial Stakes going 5 1/2 furlongs on the all weather at Presque Isle Downs first time back off the layup. Last November, he started the streak with victory sprinting five furlongs in a Nov. 8 Churchill Downs turf allowance.
Jockey Jessie Campbell rides from post 8; Go Blue Or Go Home carries 121 pounds and is favored at 5-2 on the morning line.
Of interest in this spot is Debmar Stables' Dan the Tin Man, a 3-year-old gelded son of Songandaprayer who makes his turf debut for trainer Ricky Griffith. Dan the Tin Man ran a good third after breaking slowly in the off-the-turf Highlander. In his most recent start, a 6 1/2-furlong prep for the Play the King on the all weather track on Aug. 2, he set the pace but was just nosed out by Consolidator Joe.
Chalk Racing's Night Officer won the Around the Cape Stakes at Belmont Park in May and was fifth in the Highlander. He came back to run third in the Aug. 3 My Frenchman Stakes on the Monmouth Park lawn for trainer Bruce Brown.
Upgrade, winner of the 2012 Jaipur stakes (gr. IIIT) at Belmont, is one of a duo for trainer Michele Nihei. She also will send out Artest, who won the 2012 Quick Call Stakes at Saratoga Race Course. Both are owned by Dennis Narlinger.
Other graded stakes-placed contenders in the race include Riverside Bloodstock's Dimension—runner-up by a neck in the July 17 Bold Venture Stakes (Can-III) for trainer Conor Murphy—and Centennial Farms (Niagara)'s Paso Doble, third in the Bold Venture and winner of the Aug. 5 Shepperton Stakes going 6 1/2 furlongs on the all weather track for conditioner Mark Casse.
Completing the field are Richard S. Kaster and Frederick C. Wieting's recent allowance winner Excaper, who ran second in the 2011 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. IT) for trainer Ian Black but is still seeking his first stakes win; Adam Rice's allowance winner Triple Cross; James Redekop's allowance winner Burnum; and Norseman Racing Stable's allowance winner Danger Bay.
$200,000 Play the King Stakes (Can-IIT, Race 7, approximate post 3:49 p.m. EDT), 3YOs & Up, seven furlongs (turf)
PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer, Odds
1. Dimension (GB), D. Moran, 117, C Murphy, 12-1
2. Danger Bay (ON), E. Wilson, 117, S C Attard, 30-1
3. Artest (KY), S.R. Bahen, 117, M Nihei, 20-1
4. Excaper (KY), J. Stein, 117, I Black, 4-1
5. Valentino Beauty (KY), T. Kabel, 117, B J Minshall, 10-1
6. Riding the River (KY), S. Chernetz, 123, D Cotey, 6-1
7. Burnum (FL), O. Moreno, 117, S Di Pasquale, 20-1
8. Go Blue Or Go Home (VA), J.M. Campbell, 121, R Baker, 5-2
9. Night Officer (MD), S. Bridgmohan, 117, B R Brown, 12-1
10. Upgrade (KY), G. Boulanger, 119, M Nihei, 8-1
11. Dan the Tin Man (FL), T. Pizarro, 119, R Griffith, 15-1
12. Paso Doble (KY), E R Da Silva, 119, M E Casse, 12-1
13. Triple Cross (FL), W. Martinez, 117, A Rice, 30-1