December 6, 2022

Skyler’s Scramjet faces familiar foes in Carter; Engage returns in Bay Shore

Sklyer's Scramjet romped in the Tom Fool Handicap (G3) at Aqueduct under Trevor McCarthy on Saturday, March 10, 2018 (c) NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography

A field of 11 has been entered to go seven furlongs in the $400,000 Carter Handicap (G1) on the Wood Memorial Day undercard at Aqueduct Saturday, and Skyler’s Scramjet is seeking his fourth straight victory.

The Michelle Nevin-trained gelding just made his stakes bow in the Tom Fool Handicap (G3) last out on March 10 at the Big A, scoring by 1 1/2 lengths under returning jockey Trevor McCarthy. Skyler’s Scramjet also posted easy scores against allowance/optional claiming rivals to close out his sophomore campaign in 2017 and open his four-year-old season in 2018.

Four other runners from the Tom Fool are returning in the Carter – Do Share, Great Stuff, Spartiatis and Green Gratto.

Do Share and Great Stuff were the respective second- and third-place runners in the Tom Fool, separated by three lengths on the wire. Prior to that race, for which he earned a career-best 105 BRIS Speed rating, the Linda Rice-trained Do Share captured the Gravesend Stakes on December 23 at Aqueduct. Great Stuff also scored in his race before the Tom Fool, taking the Toboggan Stakes (G3) by 2 1/2 lengths over track and distance for trainer David Jacobson. Junior Alvarado has the call on Do Share while Dylan Davis returns to Great Stuff’s saddle.

Spartiatis ran sixth in the Tom Fool as the defending champion. The Rudy Rodriguez-conditioned eight-year-old followed his 2017 victory with a sixth-placing in the Carter, and gets a jockey switch to Robby Albarado in this one. Green Gratto wired last year’s Carter at 54-1 by a neck but hasn’t finished in the money in 10 starts since. Trainer Gaston Grant has tabbed Chris DeCarlo for the mount.

Returning in this spot is multiple Grade 3 winner Awesome Slew, who closed out 2017 with a third-place run in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1). The Mark Casse charge brings along jockey John Velazquez for his Aqueduct debut.

Also in the Carter with a chance is unbeaten Army Mule, who has captured his two races to date by a combined 16 lengths. The Todd Pletcher pupil earned a 105 BRIS Speed rating for his January 31 score at Gulfstream Park while facing winners for the first time. Joe Bravo has the call.

One race later Saturday, seven sophomores have been entered to go seven furlongs in the $250,000 Bay Shore Stakes (G3).

National Flag will try for his first stakes win off a 2 3/4-length victory against allowance/optional claiming rivals to open his three-year-old campaign at Gulfstream Park on March 2. The Todd Pletcher-trained son of Speightstown was fifth in the Hopeful Stakes (G1) while making his black-type debut last September and gets the services of Flavien Prat for this one.

Engage returns to action in the Bay Shore and brings a two-race win streak along with him. The Chad Brown pupil dropped his maiden debut at Saratoga in August before scoring his initial victory at the Spa and going on to take the Futurity Stakes (G3) on October 14 at Belmont Park. John Velazquez rides the Into Mischief colt for the first time here.

Earlier at Aqueduct on Saturday, seven runners will line up for the $150,000 Excelsior Stakes (G3) at 1 1/8 miles.

Control Group has captured six of his last seven races, including the Discovery Stakes (G3) to close out his sophomore season in 2017. The Rudy Rodriguez trainee is 5-3-1-1 over the track, 6-5-1-0 at the distance and keeps jockey Kendrick Carmouche, aboard for his past two wins, in the irons.

Also entered is Harlan Punch and Backsideofthemoon, who were separated by seven lengths when running one-two, respectively, in the March 10 Stymie Stakes going a mile at Aqueduct.