On paper, Wertheimer and Frere’s homebred Colizeo looks to be lone speed in the $300,000 Suburban Handicap (gr. I). The 4-year-old son of Distorted Humor will try to take advantage and pick up his first graded stakes of the season when he meets five others in the 1 1/8-mile event July 2 at Belmont Park.
Despite its handicap status, all six horses in the Suburban will carry the same weight—115 pounds.
Todd Pletcher, who has won just about every other major race in New York, seeks his first Suburban Handicap title with Colizeo, who won his only start over the Belmont main track in last year’s Star of Cozzene Stakes. He has won once in three tries this season, scoring in the Challenger Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs in March, finishing third in the Skip Away Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park in April, and missing a neck May 21 in the William Donald Schaeffer Memorial Stakes (gr. III) at Pimlico Race Course. The colt’s lone graded win came in the Northern Dancer (gr. III) last summer at Churchill Downs.
“I’m hoping the race he won at Belmont indicates he likes Belmont,” said Pletcher of the his colt, who has compiled a 5-3-3 mark from 15 starts at eight different tracks. “We’re stepping up a notch here, but it’s a logical step given what he’s shown.”
Cornelio Velazquez will ride Colizeo (4-1), who will break from post 2.
Barry Schwartz’s Rodman has shown speed in the past, but changed tactics and ran a big race to finish runner-up at 36-1 in the Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I) May 30. The 6-year-old son of Malibu Moon came from way off the pace and closed like a freight train while missing by 2 3/4 lengths to Tizway in the Met Mile. When he won his only graded stakes race in 2009, Rodman went wire-to-wire in the 1 3/16-mile Queens County Handicap (gr. III).
Sidelined for the entire 2010 season with a foot injury, Rodman has been in good form this year, finishing runner-up in an optional claimer in February off a 14-month layoff, then won the Irish Tower Stakes at Aqueduct in April before his solid Met Mile try. Javier Castellano will have the mount for Michael Hushion. Though they drew the rail, the duo will likely allow Colizeo to grab the lead from the outside.
Rodman was made the 2-1 morning-line favorite.
“We were thrilled with his (Met Mile),” said Hushion. “It was a very good effort, and he seems to have come out of the race well. We’re hoping for another good performance.”
Like Colizeo, New York-bred Icabad Crane also comes out of the Schaeffer, where he finished a close third. In his only other start of the season, the 6-year-old Jump Start gelding won the state-restricted G’Day Mate Stakes in February at Aqueduct.
Earle Mack’s Icabad Crane (9-2), trained by Graham Motion, is 6-6-8 from 24 starts in his career, which is best known for a third-place finish in the 2008 Preakness Stakes (gr. I).
“He ran a pretty good race at Pimlico,” said Motion. “This is a logical step for him; the timing of this race is very good, and it’s the same distance and at the same track as the Empire Classic, where he jumped up at the start and had to close from last. He’s mellowed a bit with age, and he’s just a neat horse to be around.”
Centennial Farms’ Convocation finished runner-up to Haynesfield in last year’s Suburban and seeks his first win in four starts in 2011. Still looking for his first stakes victory, the 5-year-old son of Pulpit finished second in the Westchester (gr. III) in April and third last out in the Easy Goer Stakes, both at Belmont. In fact, eight of his 15 starts have come over Belmont’s main track. Though he has just one win, Convocation (6-1) has hit the board at his home track seven times. Ramon Dominguez will ride for trainer Jimmy Jerkens.
Completing the field are Flat Out, who was sixth in the June 18 Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I), and Hymn Book, winner of the Three Coins Up Stakes May 19 at Belmont in his stakes debut. Hymn Book (5-1) is trained by Shug McGaughey, who won this event four times from 1985-1990.
$300,000 Suburban Handicap (gr. II, Race 10, 5:49 p.m.), 3YO and Up, 1 1/8 Miles (Dirt) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer 1. Rodman (KY), J Castellano, 115, M E Hushion
2. Colizeo (KY), C H Velasquez, 115, T A Pletcher
3. Convocation (KY), R A Dominguez, 115, J A Jerkens
4. Icabad Crane (NY), R Maragh, 115, H G Motion
5. Flat Out (FL), A O Solis, 115, C L Dickey
6. Hymn Book (KY), J R Velazquez, 115, C R McGaughey III