A longshot deserving of attention in Thursday's Sycamore at Keeneland

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

October 19th, 2016

Thursday's $100,000 Sycamore (G3) at Keeneland, a 1 1/2-mile turf race for older horses, attracted a full field of 14 (plus one also-eligible). As one might suspect, it's a rather contentious affair.

Trainer Mike Maker arguably has the horses to beat in Greengrassofyoming, who landed the Stars and Stripes (G3) in July and was a close fourth in the Arlington Million (G1) next time, and Bigger Picture, who has won three of five starts for Maker since being claimed last fall for $32,000, and should be better while stretching back out from a Kentucky Downs stakes contested at one mile and 70 yards.

Former Canadian Horse of the Year Up With the Birds, Louisville H. (G3) hero Bullards Alley, and the stakes-placed Street Fashion, who defeated subsequent Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (G1) winner Ectot in a Saratoga allowance last time, also have serious claims.

There is, however, a longshot in the Sycamore that deserves at least more than a passing glance: POSTULATION (#2, 30-1 ML).

Originally campaigned by breeder Juddmonte Farms, Postulation began his career in Ireland under Dermot Weld, where he faced a number of nice horses. Right off the bat, he finished sixth in his debut, beaten 4 1/4 lengths, to Gleneagles, who went on to win four Group 1 events, including the English (G1) and Irish 2000 Guineas (G1).

In seven remaining starts in Ireland, Postulation never finished worse than third. Two races that stand out were his three-year-old debut at Cork, where he finished second by a length to Success Days, who subsequently won three Group 3 events and placed third behind Fascinating Rock and Found in this year's Tattersalls Gold Cup (G1).

The other was his Irish finale in the Silver S. at The Curragh, where he edged older rival Parish Hall by a neck over 1 1/4 miles. An upset winner of the Dewhurst (G1) four years earlier, Parish Hall was still a solid Group 3 type at the time of this loss.

Postulation's U.S. debut came in the 2015 Belmont Derby (G1), but he could do no better than sixth behind Force the Pass. Subsequently acquired by Greg Bentley and moved to the Eddie Graham stable, Postulation didn't race again for nearly 14 months. He returned this past August 28, finishing a sharp second to Ghost Hunter in a course-and-distance allowance prep for the $200,000 Presque Isle Downs Mile on Tapeta. The gap between the two widened three weeks later when Ghost Hunter won the Mile, with Postulation 3 3/4 lengths behind in fifth.

Besides the return to grass, the stretching out from a mile, and respectable form against Grade 3 quality runners, there are couple other things Postulation has going for him. With rain chances at around 90 percent in the Lexington area on Thursday, Postulation's relatively positive wet-turf form could come in handy. The other is the trainer/jockey combo of Graham (who once upset the Arlington Million [G1] with Hardest Core) and jockey Trevor McCarthy, who have teamed up to win twice in three attempts over the last couple seasons. All three of Graham's wins this year have also come with horses making their third start off a layoff.

Winning the Sycamore won't be easy, but for me Postulation is well worth a swing at a big price.

(Photo courtesy of Belfast Telegraph)