Toboggan, Megahertz bookend MLK Day stakes

Profile Picture: Kellie Reilly

January 18th, 2016

While the Smarty Jones is likely to attract the most attention on Monday, Oaklawn Park’s feature is bookended by stakes on both coasts on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

First up is the $150,000 Toboggan (G3) at Aqueduct, a six-furlong dash scheduled for 1:20 p.m. (EST). Green Gratto goes for the hat trick after a hard-fought decision in the November 26 Fall Highweight H. (G3) and a blistering rout of the December 26 Gravesend over this inner track. The 7-5 favorite ranks as the 123-pound co-highweight along with millionaire Dads Caps, who returns from a seven-month layoff.

Dads Caps has won the past two editions of the historic Carter H. (G1), and the Toboggan is once again serving as his stepping stone. In both 2014 and 2015, the Rudy Rodriguez charge finished runner-up in the Toboggan and Tom Fool (G3) en route to the Carter.

“I don't see any negatives with him; he's doing very good," Rodriguez told NYRA publicity. "Everything looks like he's moving up. He's been working very good since we got him back from vacation, so it looks like he's ready to run.

“We've definitely got the Carter in mind. Usually when they're away from the races that long, they look like they need a race. Hopefully, this is something to move forward from. He looks like he runs good fresh, so hopefully we can get a decent race and maybe just freshen him up and take it from there. But if there's another race coming up, maybe we can try him again. We're still a long way from home.

"We're ready, we're anxious to see him run back If he can perform the way he was running last year, we'll be in good shape. He's just got to run his same race because Green Gratto is a tough customer right now."

Rodriguez is right to add the “right now,” since Dads Caps had Green Gratto’s measure last year. Green Gratto was a well-beaten third in the Toboggan and played second fiddle to him in the Carter (as pictured on top left).

Only four others entered the Toboggan – Alex the Terror, who exits a third to Green Gratto in the Gravesend; Bold Ruler (G3) third Heaven’s Runway, in fairly consistent form since joining David Jacobson; and outsiders Sam Sparkle and Sir Rockport.

Almost six hours later on the West Coast, Santa Anita stages the $100,000 Megahertz (G3) as its MLK Day feature. The one-mile turf test shapes up as a rematch from the December 27 Robert J. Frankel (G3), with the respective top three – Gender Agenda (pictured right), Stormy Lucy (green bridle) and Glory (blue shadow roll on rail)– all back again.

Gender Agenda appeared to benefit from the extra furlong in the 1 1/8-mile Frankel, so reverting to a mile could play into her rivals’ hands. But note that her trainer Carla Gaines doesn’t think so.

“The basic makeup of the race will be a lot different from a mile and an eighth, but she’s won at a mile and run very well at the distance so this race seemed like a logical step,” Gaines told Santa Anita publicity.

The shorter distance may help Glory the most, since the Tapit filly nearly all the way before being collared late in the Frankel, her first loss on turf. In her two prior, the Jerry Hollendorfer pupil was a convincing winner in a turf sprint and at 1 1/16 miles.

“She ran fantastic last out,” assistant trainer Dan Ward said. “Glory ran against older on a soft turf at a mile and an eighth in the Frankel.”

Stormy Lucy, who surprised the one-mile Matriarch (G1) at 65-1 two back, also ran very well in defeat as the 124-pound co-highweight in the Frankel. While she’s spotting Glory weight again here, she meets Gender Agenda on much better terms at level weights – another reason to think that Gender Agenda may find the Megahertz more problematic.

Completing the Frankel reunion party is Alexis Tangier, who tired to sixth. A smart winner of the Swingtime over this course and distance in October, the daughter of Tiznow and downhill queen Cambiocorsa may take more after mom. Hence she’s a tempting dark horse at 10-1 for the Hall of Fame tandem of Richard Mandella and Gary Stevens.

Glen Hill Farm’s Theatre Star has been competing in turf sprints of late, most recently finishing third in the Sen. Ken Maddy (G3) and fifth in the Monrovia (G2), but she’s won at up to 1 1/8 miles in the past. The War Front half-sister to Saturday’s La Canada (G2) heroine Taris could make it a family double.

In-form trainer Richard Baltas has entered a trio -- Chaulk O Lattey, runner-up in Del Mar’s Kathryn Crosby; Journey On, second to Circling in the off-the-turf Miss America at Golden Gate; and recent allowance winner Tiz a Kiss.

Other contenders include Kathryn Crosby third Beat of the Drum, the John Shirreffs-trained Keri Belle; and the second also-eligible My Year Is A Day, who should draw in after the scratches of Sweet as a Rose and Oscar Party.

Top photo of Dads Caps and Green Gratto courtesy of NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography; Frankel trio courtesy of Benoit.