Mystic Guide ‘An Absolute Picture’ Ahead Of July 3 Suburban

Trainer Mike Stidham will have a number of stakes contenders for the Independence Day weekend cards at Belmont Park, led by Mystic Guide in the Grade 2, $400,000 Suburban at 10 furlongs for 4-year-olds and up on Saturday, July 3.

The Independence Day slates run July 3 through Monday, July 5 offering six stakes races including a pair of Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In qualifiers led by the Grade 2, Suburban [Classic] and the Grade 2, $250,000 John A. Nerud [Sprint], which will see 4-year-olds and up contest at seven furlongs on July 4.

The holiday weekend kicks off July 3 with the $100,000 Perfect Sting and continues on July 4 with the $100,000 Manila, while the Grade 3, $250,000 Dwyer anchors a Monday, July 5 card that also offers the $150,000 Grand Couturier.

In addition to Mystic Guide, Stidham will also be represented by Princess Grace in the Perfect Sting with Gershwin possible for the Grade 3 Dwyer.

Godolphin homebred Mystic Guide, the No. 1 ranked horse in the NTRA Thoroughbred Poll, will be making his first appearance since capturing the Group 1 Dubai World Cup on March 27 at Meydan.

Mystic Guide, a 4-year-old Ghostzapper colt, has worked six times at Fair Hill since returning to North America, including a six-furlong effort in 1:13.20 on June 19.

“He’s doing fantastic. He’s had multiple works here at Fair Hill and his final work for the race will be tomorrow,” said Stidham. “We’ll ship to New York for Friday morning so we can school him in the paddock before the race.”

Mystic Guide made the grade in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy in September at Saratoga Race Course and followed with a runner-up effort to Suburban rival Happy Saver in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup on October 10 at Belmont.

Leaving from the outside post under Hall of Famer John Velazquez in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, Mystic Guide tracked in third outside of Happy Saver, piloted by Irad Ortiz, Jr., as Tacitus, with Jose Ortiz up, led the field down the backstretch through an easy half-mile in 49.68 seconds.

Mystic Guide moved outside of the pacesetter late in the turn as Happy Saver waited for racing room behind rivals that finally emerged when Tacitus came off the rail on the turn for home. Mystic Guide put a nose in front inside the final eighth, but Happy Saver squeezed up the rail and powered home to a three-quarter length score.

“The Jim Dandy was the beginning of him starting to put it all together,” said Stidham. “I thought he was unlucky in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. It was a cat and mouse game that day with the two Ortiz brothers and Johnny sitting outside of them and then magically the rail opened up for Happy Saver. We were unlucky to lose that race.”

Mystic Guide, who has paired with Belmont Stakes-winning rider Luis Saez for his two starts this season, opened his current campaign in impressive fashion with a six-length win in the Grade 3 Razorback Handicap on a sloppy track on February 27 at Oaklawn Park, garnering a career-best 108 Beyer Speed Figure.

“Obviously, we don’t really know how much the sloppy track played into that number. He came back in the Dubai World Cup and made the number look like it was real, which was good,” said Stidham. “We’ve given him plenty of time and he’s had three months since that race to bounce back. Looking at him train and his weight and his coat, he’s an absolute picture right now.”

Stidham said Godolphin homebred Gershwin – a 3-year-old half-brother to Mystic Guide by Distorted Humor – is possible for the Dwyer with a number of races also under consideration, including the 1 1/16-miles $250,000 Iowa Derby on July 2 and the 1 1/16-miles Grade 3, $300,000 Indiana Derby on July 7.

“We’re considering the Dwyer, but we also have our eye on the Iowa Derby and Indiana Derby, too,” said Stidham.

Stidham said that while both siblings are chestnuts, they demonstrate very distinct differences in personality.

“Mystic Guide is a little bigger and stronger in stature and he’s much tougher; a real man,” said Stidham. “Whereas Gershwin is easier to handle and not as strong and tough as Mystic Guide is. They’re similar in looks, though.”

The well-bred Gershwin has seen 3-of-5 career starts washed off the turf, including a last out score in the Grade 3 Penn Mile on May 28 at Penn National.

“We’ve felt like there’s more to him than what we’ve seen from a numbers standpoint,” said Stidham. “He’s almost like Mystic Guide in that he’s taking time to develop and the only reason we were thinking of grass is that we hadn’t seen what we were hoping to see from him on dirt up to this point.

“He did well to win the Grade 3,” continued Stidham. “Even though it was off the turf, you start thinking maybe he is fine on the dirt and just taking time to really breakthrough and come up with a big number. That’s why we’re content to continue on with the dirt.”

Susan and John Moore’s Princess Grace will make her seasonal debut in the Perfect Sting, a one-mile turf test for older fillies and mares.

The 4-year-old daughter or Karakontie won 3-of-4 starts last season, topped by a win in the off-the-turf Grade 2 Mrs. Revere in November at Churchill Downs to close out her campaign.

“She’s coming off a layup but she’s been training really well and we’re looking to get her starting back,” said Stidham. “I had no clue what to think when we stayed in the off-the-turf that day and she went out and ran a huge race.”

Princess Grace is out of the Silent Name mare Masquerade, who was also campaigned by Stidham and posted wins on dirt, synthetic and turf through a career ledger of 28-6-8-2.

“It looks like Princess Grace could do both surfaces but we’ll stay with the turf,” said Stidham. “We trained her mother and she was an ultra-consistent horse, but I think she was better on turf, too.”

Stidham said Princess Grace, who earned a career-best 88 Beyer with a runner-up effort in the Grade 3 Valley View in October at Keeneland, could be special.

“She gives you that indication,” said Stidham. “She’s a small, feminine looking filly but she runs huge in her races and everything she does is game and all heart. Those kind don’t have to be big and powerful, they just have what it takes inside and she seems to have that.”

The post Mystic Guide ‘An Absolute Picture’ Ahead Of July 3 Suburban appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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