For 3-year-old runners unsuccessful on the Triple Crown trail, the $200,000 Dwyer Stakes (gr. II) at Belmont Park offers an opportunity to get back on track for the summer season. Seven sophomores line up to contest the 1 1/16-mile event June 30, their names familiar from races such as the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), Preakness (gr. I), and Illinois Derby (gr. III).
Leading the charge is J.W. Singer’s fifth-place Preakness finisher Teeth of the Dog. Off that effort, trainer Michael Matz saddled the son of Bluegrass Cat to a solid 3 ¾-length victory in the 1 1/16-mile Easy Goer Stakes on the Belmont Stakes undercard June 9.
“He came out of the Easy Goer very well,” Matz remarked. “It’s only been three weeks since the race, but he’s been doing well.”
Teeth of the Dog worked June 25 at Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md., turning in four furlongs in :48.20. He is the morning line favorite at 5-2 and carries top weight of 121 in the field under jockey Joel Rosario, who has shifted tack from California to New York.
“If he runs well in this, we’d probably look at a race like the Jim Dandy, but we’d keep our options open,” Matz said. The July 28 Jim Dandy (gr. II) is the traditional stepping-stone to the Aug. 25 Travers Stakes (gr. I), both run at Saratoga Race Course.
Also familiar from the Triple Crown trail is Winter Park Partners’ Zetterholm, a Silver Train colt who was fourth in the 1 3/16-mile Preakness for trainer Rick Dutrow last time out. At the time, Dutrow said he was “really pleased” with Zetterholm’s finish at odds of 20-1. Zetterholm carries 118 pounds and is 3-1 on the morning line.
All others are weighted 116, including Unstoppable U, who was making just his third career start when he ran in the Belmont. Also 3-1 on the morning line, the gray son of Exchange Rate was forwardly-placed in second behind frontrunning Paynter past the mile before tiring to fourth after a 1 1/4 miles and ultimately finishing sixth in the 1 ½-mile test. He won both of his previous races for Magdalena Racing (Susan McPeek) and Mojallali Stables and trainer Kenny McPeek: a maiden special weight at Aqueduct March 31 and a one-mile allowance by 6 ¼ lengths over Guyana Star Dweej at Belmont April 27.
“This ought to be a lot better spot for him,” said McPeek. “I understand the Belmont was really ambitious, but this horse has always shown a lot of talent. I think he ran respectable considering he didn’t have the foundation. For him to stay right near the lead for almost a mile and a quarter shows he’s a nice colt in his own right.”
McPeek said his runner is still developing.
“You consider the fact that he didn’t run at two and you realize he really is just coming around,” he said. “He’s a really big horse, too, and I think the more time he’s given to develop, the better off he’ll be. We anticipate he should improve with age.”
Guyana Star Dweej, 25 lengths behind the rest of the Belmont Stakes field after one mile and eased by jockey Kent Desormeaux in the June 9 classic, is entered as well. The Eddington runner has a lone victory in 10 starts to his credit for Shivmangal Racing Stable, earned by half a length in a one-mile maiden special weight at Aqueduct April 7.
Morgan's Guerrilla heads up a trio of runners unraced in the Triple Crown classics. The son of Ghostzapper was runner-up in the Illinois Derby but then finished 11th in the Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. III) at Keeneland April 27, not earning enough to make the field for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). Trainer Mike Maker put him in a one-mile allowance May 31 at Churchill Downs; he was soundly defeated four lengths by Stealcase but held on for the place after vying for the lead. Owned by Tom Conway, Jack Conway, Trey Thornton, and Gary Carter, Morgan’s Guerrilla has finished first or second in all five starts but the Lexington.
Richard C. Pell’s Fast Falcon also comes off a runner-up finish behind Teeth of the Dog in the Easy Goer. The Awesome Again colt broke his maiden by 2 ¼ lengths May 11 at Pimlico going the Dwyer distance, closing strongly from last with a sweeping move off the turn at odds of 27-1 for Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito.
“I know the distance will suit him, but we’ll have to see about the competition,” Zito remarked.
“It’s a big step up for him. We took a chance in the Easy Goer and finished second, and we’re taking a chance here. It’s a small field, but competitive. We’ll see how he handles these and see if he fits.”
Completing the field is Gold Mark Farm’s Monarchic, by Forestry, a back-to-back winner in maiden and allowance events on turf and synthetic surfaces. The Eoin Harty-trained runner broke his maiden by a nose at Churchill Downs going a mile on the turf May 4, then took a mile and 70-yard allowance at Presque Isle May 26 by steadily advancing from fourth with a three-wide rally to win by 2 ½ lengths.
$200,000 Dwyer Stakes (gr. II, Race 10, 5:38 p.m .), 3YOs 1 1/16 Miles
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer, Odds
1. Morgan’s Guerrilla (KY), R.A. Dominguez, 116, M J Maker, 4-1
2.Fast Falcon (KY), R. Napravnik, 116, N P Zito, 10-1
3. Guyana Star Dweej (KY), J. L. Ortiz, 116, D Shivmangal, 15-1
4. Unstoppable U, J. Castellano, 116, K G McPeek, 3-1
5. Zetterholm (NY), J. Alvarado, 118, R E Dutrow Jr., 3-1
6. Teeth of the Dog (KY), J. Rosario, 121, M R Matz, 5-2
7. Monarchic (PA), J. Lezcano, 116, E G Harty , 15-1