November 30, 2023

Maker trio looms large in Red Smith

Bigger Picture winning the 2016 Red Smith at Aqueduct (c) Chelsea Durand/Adam Coglianese Photography

Mike Maker will take a big swing at Saturday’s $200,000 Red Smith (G3) at Aqueduct. An overflow field of 16, including three also-eligibles and three main-track only horses, was entered for the 1 3/8-mile turf test and Maker has three contenders in the main body of the field. All are reformed claimers.

Grade 1 winner Bigger Picture, who captured the 2016 Red Smith, is the most accomplished. The seven-year-old gelding missed last year’s edition and returns to Aqueduct in solid form, recording a half-length second in the September 8 Kentucky Turf Cup (G3) at Kentucky Downs and a rallying third in the October 18 Sycamore (G3) at Keeneland. Manny Franco picks up the mount on Bigger Picture, who was claimed for $32,000 at Aqueduct in 2015.

Haltered for a $80,000 tag in early September, Zulu Alpha returned immediate dividends when coming back to post a two-length score in the Sycamore for the Maker barn. The improving Street Cry gelding has won three of his last four outings, the lone setback being a neck second, and the five-year-old will add Luis Saez for his first New York start.

Soglio has proved to be a savvy $50,000 claim from his sophomore finale at Gulfstream, earning $196,250 for new connections this season from a 9-3-0-4 record. The four-year-old Scat Daddy gelding has run well in both stakes attempts for Maker, finishing a close third in July’s Stars and Stripes (G3) at Arlington and the Kentucky Turf Cup, and enters on the upswing following a convincing 1 ½-mile allowance tally at Keeneland. Soglio will be forwardly-placed with John Velazquez.

Call Provision merits respect for Chad Brown. A fast-finishing second in last year’s Red Smith, the New York-bred gelding is perfect from three other attempts on Aqueduct’s turf. Irad Ortiz Jr. retains the mount. Brown also has Focus Group, winner of the John’s Call at Saratoga and most recently third in the Canadian International (G1) at Woodbine. The four-year-old will need to draw in from the also-eligibles list with Jose Ortiz.

Multiple Grade 3 victor Inspector Lynley will stretch out in ground for Shug McGaughey. Winner of the 1 1/16-mile Lure at Saratogsa three back, the five-year-old exits a rallying third in the 1 1/8-mile Knickerbocker (G2) at Belmont. Jose Lezcano picks up the mount with Jose Ortiz opting for Focus Group.

If the race is washed off the turf, Aqueduct main track stakes winners Control Group and Exulting will be major players.