by Matt Shifman
The road to the 2019 Kentucky Derby runs through New York on Saturday when a field of seven enters the gate for the $250,000 Grade 2 Remsen. As part of the Derby Prep Season, this race carries qualifying points [10-4-2-1] for the top four finishers.
Two of New York’s top Kentucky Derby possibilities are not in the race. Code of Honor was taken out of consideration when he was not working as well as trainer Kiaran McLaughlin expected. Vekoma, last month’s impressive winner of the Nashua (G3) at Aqueduct, is in George Weaver’s Florida barn, and will be back in competition in the new year.
Maximus Mischief, the 6-5 morning favorite for the Remsen, will ship to New York from trainer Robert Reid Jr.’s barn at Parx. The son of the hot sire Into Mischief is unbeaten in two career starts at the Pennsylvania track. In his October allowance victory, he recorded a 98 BSF which is the highest for any 2-year-old this year.
Since then, he has prepared for his first race around two-turns with three bullet workouts.
“He hasn’t missed a beat in training. We couldn’t be any happier,” Reid said. “He’s got a real good head on his shoulders. Nothing bothers him. It’s a big jump with an extra quarter of a mile, but all indications to me is that it shouldn’t be a problem.
“We’re asking a lot on this one,” he added. “It’s the first time shipping and the first time around two turns with the added distance, so he’s going to have to step up.”
Both of Maximus Mischief’s wins have come on the front end, though Reid said his colt might prefer a different style when running at a long distance.
“I think he’ll come off the pace. He’s never shown any problems in our early preparations going behind horses,” Reid said. “He took dirt and he’s shown no ill effects from that. It’s all part of the learning process for a young horse. We’re looking forward to getting some of those questions answered.”
Network Effect is listed as the 7-5 second choice based on his second-place finish in the Nashua behind Vekoma. The Chad Brown runner won his August debut at Saratoga by three-lengths while racing seven-furlongs.
The 5-1 third choice is Bourbon War who sold for a hefty $410,000 as a weanling at the Keeneland November sale in 2016. He won his debut going a mile at Aqueduct just about three weeks ago.
“He’s doing well. We discussed it and came to the conclusion that we’d fit with this group,” Hennig said. “The timing is a little less than ideal, but he seems like he’s been sharp and bright since his race, so we figured we’d take a chance.
“He’s a horse who all along I thought would need to run and need more ground. I never anticipated that he’s the horse who would run the race of his life in his first start. I think there’s plenty of upside. The timing is a question mark, but he’s acting like he’s up to it. I think he’ll be up to the challenge.”
The Remsen is slated as race 8 on the final Super Saturday card of the year with post time at 3:12 pm ET. First post on Saturday’s 10-race card is 11:30 a.m. Gates will open to the public at 10:30 a.m.
Television coverage from the Super Saturday card will be broadcast on Aqueduct Live airing on MSG+ from 3 – 4:30 p.m. ET.