December 4, 2021

Graded winners square off in Bet On Sunshine Stakes

Recruiting Ready wins the Gulfstream Park Sprint
Recruiting Ready winning the Gulfstream Park Sprint (G3) (Coglianese Photos)

Saturday’s $120,000 Bet On Sunshine Stakes at Churchill Downs isn’t technically a graded stakes race, though given the quality of runners set to contest Saturday’s renewal of the six-furlong dash, it could certainly be mistaken for one.

Four of the 10 entrants have won at the graded stakes level, including possible betting favorite Bobby’s Wicked One. A speedy son of Speightstown, Bobby’s Wicked One led all the way to win the Commonwealth Stakes (G3) at Keeneland during the spring and followed up with a runner-up effort behind Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) favorite Mitole in the Churchill Downs Stakes (G1).

But Bobby’s Wicked One hasn’t run since June 1, when he finished last in the Mighty Beau Stakes on grass at Churchill Downs. If he proves vulnerable off the layoff, Recruiting Ready might take advantage.

Winner of the Gulfstream Park Sprint (G3) during the winter, Recruiting Ready finished fourth with a tough trip in the Commonwealth, but has been in strong form this fall. Two starts back, he dominated a six-furlong allowance race at Churchill Downs by 2 ½ lengths, and last time out he was beaten barely more than a length against a strong field in Keeneland’s Phoenix Stakes (G2).

New York Central could only finish fifth in the Commonwealth, but bounced back one start later to win the Maryland Sprint Handicap (G3) at Pimlico in a snappy 1:08.74. His recent form is uninspiring, but New York Central is set to make his second start off a layoff and could improve while returning to Churchill Downs, where he’s never finished out of the trifecta.

In contrast, Tom Fool Handicap (G3) winner Do Share is already on the rebound. Claimed out of a losing effort at Saratoga this summer, Do Share made his debut for trainer Norm Casse a winning one, rallying boldly to win a September 28 allowance sprint at Churchill Downs by a head.

Mr Crow has never won a graded stakes race, but finished second in the 2018 Vosburgh Stakes (G1) at Belmont, proving he can fire off a big effort on his best day. Similar can be said of Wilbo, winner of the Aristides Stakes over this track and distance in June. With 25 in-the-money finishes from 34 starts, Wilbo consistently vies for victory against good company.

Seven-time stakes winner Mr Jagermeister brings serious front-running speed to the Bet On Sunshine field, but could be in for a wide trip while breaking from post 10. Longshots Zipp On By and Batterbatterswing are also quick out of the gate and figure to contest the early issue with Mr Jagermeister and Recruiting Ready. If the pace gets hot, this could benefit Cowboy Creed, a stakes-placed deep closer shipping in from Canterbury Park.

The Bet On Sunshine Stakes is the 10TH race of the day, with a projected post time of 8:10 p.m. ET.