Mohaymen looms a heavy favorite in Holy Bull
The 1 1/16-mile event attracted just six three-year-olds, and is a prelude to the Fountain of Youth (G2) and Florida Derby (G1) later in the meet. Points of 10-4-2-1 will be awarded to the first four finishers toward eligibility in the Kentucky Derby (G1) as part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby Series.
After a narrow, half-length maiden win at Belmont in September, Mohaymen, a gray son of Tapit, scored more comfortable wins in Aqueduct's main juvenile features in November despite drifting out late in both. Mohaymen's a half-brother to 2013 Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) winner New Year's Day.
"He's pretty seasoned for only starting three times," said Kiaran McLaughlin, who trains Mohaymen for Shadwell Stable. "The work behind horses was very important in between the Nashua and the Remsen, for jockey and horse I think. Junior [Alvarado] was real confident with him on Remsen day because he had sat behind two horses and taken dirt in the morning. We know he can handle most things thrown at him at this stage. We just hope we have a good trip and a clean trip."
One of the more impressive juvenile performances of 2015 was turned in by Greenpointcrusader, who romped by 4 1/2 lengths winning the Champagne (G1) at Belmont in the slop. However, a late, wide rally as the 7-2 favorite in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) at Keeneland did not produce a similar result as the son of Bernardini finished seventh in the field of 14.
Eighth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, a half-length behind Greenpointcrusader, was Conquest Big E, who rebounded to take a one-mile allowance at Churchill Downs by two lengths over a sloppy track. Also a son of Tapit, Conquest Big E is trained by Mark Casse.
"He's been training as good as a horse can train," Casse said. "My feeling's always been that he trains like a really good horse and I think he's run well but so far I think in his career he's been an underachiever. I do see things in him that make me think that he is a really good horse, but he's still got to prove it. This is going to be a big test this weekend. We'd rather find out now."
The field is completed by stakes winner Fellowship and maiden scorers Perfect Saint and Frontier Ranger.
Awesome Banner, who has won both career starts by a combined 14 1/2 lengths including the Hutcheson (G3) earlier this month, will attempt to make it three in a row in the $150,000 Swale (G2) at seven furlongs. Among his five rivals are Economic Model, a debut winner for Chad Brown at Saratoga last August, Hutcheson runner-up Noholdingback Bear, and Jim Edgar Futurity winner Richie the Bull.
(NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)