Call Paul will be dropping in class, while the impressive maiden winner Vekoma will be facing a more difficult assignment in the Grade 3, $200,000 Nashua at Aqueduct on Sunday. The one-mile race for 2-year-olds also includes a pair of first-out winners from the barn of Chad Brown.
The $100,000 Awad, a one-mile turf race for 2-year-olds, is slotted as race 4. The Awad was supposed to be held last Saturday, but that card was canceled due to high winds and rain. The $100,000 English Channel, also part of the washout, was not brought back.
Racing secretary Mike Lakow said that when entries were taken Thursday for the English Channel, some of the original horses dropped out. The spacing between the English Channel and the $150,000 Gio Ponti on Nov. 23 became too tight for horses to compete in both.
Call Paul comes into the Nashua off a third-place effort in the Grade 1 Champagne. He failed to close on front-running winner Complexity and was outfinished by the late-closing Code of Honor, losing by six lengths.
Complexity was the 5-2 second choice on the morning line for Friday’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Code of Honor, 5-1 on the Juvenile line, was scratched with a fever.
Call Paul came into the Champagne perfect in two starts, including a one-length win in the 6 1/2-furlong Saratoga Special following a bumping match with the runner-up. Call Paul is being given a second chance to show he can succeed at a mile by trainer Jason Servis. Irad Ortiz Jr. stays aboard.
Vekoma did a lot of things right in his 1 3/4-length debut win at Belmont Park for trainer George Weaver. He relaxed off the pacesetters in the six-furlong sprint, then moved up three wide to take the lead entering the stretch under Manny Franco. Runner-up Epic Dreamer, who didn’t have the smoothest of the trips, came back to win impressively Oct. 26.
“He’s always been a forward horse, and we were not surprised to see him win first time out,” Weaver said. “We’re jumping him up to a mile, and that’s the question mark, but I haven’t seen anything in his training to suggest he won’t go that far.”
Vekoma is a son of Candy Ride out of Grade 1 Humana Distaff winner Mona de Momma. Weaver and Steve Venosa picked him out at the 2017 Keeneland September sale, and he was purchased for $135,000 by Randy Hill, who owns him in partnership with Gatsas Stables.
Vekoma’s 87 Beyer Speed Figure is the highest in the six-horse Nashua field.
Brown sends out U S Navy Cross, who earned an 80 Beyer by rallying from far back to win his seven-furlong debut at Belmont, and Network Effect, who was given a 77 after coming from off the pace to win Aug. 11 at Saratoga.
U S Navy Cross is a son of Curlin who brought $550,000 at the 2017 Keeneland September sale.
“We’re looking to get him more distance,” Brown said. “A mile here and even further after that.”
Brown said Network Effect “got sick for a little bit” following his debut win “but seems to be back and is training well.”
The field is rounded out by 2-for-3 Factor It In, trained by John Servis, and Delaware Park maiden winner Puttheglassdown, who races for Jeremiah Englehart.
◗ The rescheduled Awad lost two main-track-only entrants from a week ago and picked up Kentucky shipper Life Mission. The race has a field of eight, seven of whom are entered for turf.
Empire of War and A Thread of Blue, maiden winners in October for Todd Pletcher and Kiaran McLaughlin, respectively, are top contenders, as is Parx-based Order and Law, who gave trainer Louis Linder Jr. his first stakes win when he rallied from far back to win the six-furlong Laurel Futurity over a yielding course in September.
This story originally appeared on DRF.com.
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