Potential Aplenty in Hall of Fame Handicap

(from Saratoga report)
Only one horse in Monday's $150,000 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Handicap (gr. IIT) has a graded stakes grass win, so there are plenty of contenders looking to step up on the Saratoga turf course.

Rey de Café, who won both the Crown Royal American Turf Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs May 6 and the Hill Prince Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Belmont Park June 10 has enjoyed the most success of the nine starters in the 1 1/8-mile event for 3-year-olds.

Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel's High Limit won the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) on the dirt at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans on March 12 but is trying the turf for the first time on Monday.

With High Limit as the "X" factor, Rey de Café's main competition figures to be Reel Legend, who has never won a race on the turf, and Prince Rahy, whose only career victory came in a maiden race.

In spite of the lack of experience, these two colts are worthy adversaries. Prince Rahy took second in the Hill Prince, only beaten by a nose by Rey de Café. He took third in the Lexington Stakes (gr. IIIT) on the same course most recently. That day, he was beat by the eventual winner, Woodlander, and second-place finisher Reel Legend, who finished 3 ¼ lengths ahead of Prince Rahy.

Rey de Café is a colt by Kingmambo and trained by George "Rusty" Arnold II. His last time out – in the Virginia Derby (gr. IIIT) at Colonial Downs July 16 – Rey de Café and jockey Javier Castellano caught a yielding turf course and the colt did not run well.

"All of his races have been good except his last race," Arnold said. "We are very disappointed in last race. We hope it was the soft ground because it rained about an inch before the race."

The Virginia Derby is the only race where Rey de Café did not finish in the money on the turf. He won his only start going nine furlongs and has four wins on his career, more than anyone else in the field.

"If I get my horse to the race the right way, I don't worry about who he is running against," Arnold said. "I'm confident he'll run well. He always runs well."

Rey de Café breezed four furlongs on the turf in :48 1/5 on Thursday morning and is preparing well for the race, according to Arnold. Castellano will be riding Rey de Café once again.

Timber Bay Farm's and Mrs. Thomas Walsh's Reel Legend is trained by Jimmy Jerkens and ridden by jockey Jose Santos. The connections of Jerkens and the owners combined to win the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes last year with Artie Schiller, who went on to win the Bernard Baruch Handicap (gr. IIT) Aug. 1.

Reel Legend has three second-place finishes in three starts on the turf with his most recent second-place finish coming in the Lexington.

"He certainly ran a winning race last time," Jerkens said. "Another jump after the wire, and he wins the race."

Frank Alexander trains Prince Rahy, by Rahy, who has been active in stakes races despite only winning one race in his career, a maiden race at Gulfstream Park on February 4.

"His races have been very competitive," Alexander said. "He hasn't quite won one of these stakes but he's been close. He's won going a mile and an eighth and he's run well. It's probably one of his best distances."

$150,000 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes (gr. IIT), 3-year-olds, 1 1/8 miles (turf)
1. Rey de Café, George Arnold II, Javier Castellano, 122
2. Crown Point, David Donk, John Velazquez, 119
3. Silver Whistle, William Mott, Jerry Bailey, 115
4. Prince Rahy, Frank Alexander, Gary Stevens, 115
5. T.D. Vance, H. Graham Motion, Todd Kabel, 119
6. Holy Ground, Michael Matz, Cornelio Velasquez, 115
7. Interpatation, Robert Barbara, Eibar Coa, 122
8. High Limit, Robert Frankel, Edgar Prado, 117
9. Reel Legend, James Jerkens, Jose Santos, 115