The connections of rising star Broken Vow and multiple grade 1 stakes winner Sir Bear have indicated their short-term goals will likely include the grade 2 Massachusetts Handicap at Suffolk Downs June 2.
The field for the MassCap, which has been won in recent years by champions Cigar and Skip Away, is starting to take shape. Nominations close on May 21.
The older division will heat up Saturday with the grade I Pimlico Special. Albert The Great could be favored in that event.
Other top handicap horses could join the MassCap fray depending on the success of planned recruiting trips this weekend by Suffolk Downs racing secretary John Morrissey, and stakes coordinator Anthony "Buddy" Gaudiana. Morrissey will go to Baltimore to speak to the connections with horses in the Special, while Gaudiana will be work the barn area at Belmont Park.
"I'm happy with the way things are shaping up right now," Morrissey said. "Buddy went to Aqueduct and is now heading to Belmont this weekend. He's talked with a lot of people and, so far, we have gotten a great response."
Several MassCap starters likely emerged from the grade 3 Ben Ali Stakes at Keeneland, and the grade 3 Excelsior Handicap at Aqueduct.
Lightly-raced Broken Vow looks like he could be the next star of the older handicap ranks after his dominating victory in the Ben Ali. He's likely to make his next start at Suffolk, according to trainer Graham Motion. Morrissey spoke to Motion shortly after the Ben Ali and received a positive response about the MassCap.
"He is definitely interested in coming," Morrissey said.
The Ralph Ziadie-trained Sir Bear is also considering the $500,000 MassCap. A winner of more than $2.2 million in his career, Sir Bear is still going strong at age eight and won the Gulfstream Park Handicap March 3.
"There's a 90 percent chance of Sir Bear coming," Morrissey said.
The Mark Hennig-trained Cats at Home, another improving 4-year-old, won the Excelsior after having won the grade 3 Westchester Handicap. The son of Tabasco Cat is under consideration for the MassCap, along with stablemate Perfect Cat, who finished second to Broken Vow in the Ben Ali.
Other possibilities are Top Official and Turnofthecentury, second and fifth, respectively, in the Excelsior; Gander, who was fifth in the 2000 MassCap and second in last year's Jockey Club Gold Cup; and Jarf, an allowance winner.