Daily Racing Form: John’s Call Stakes A Hard One To Handicap

An evenly matched field, abnormal distance and a stormy forecast all play a part in the puzzle.

A full field of seemingly evenly matched horses, a seldom-used marathon distance, and an unsettled forecast make Wednesday’s $100,000 John’s Call Stakes one of the more difficult handicapping puzzles of the Saratoga summer.

The John’s Call is scheduled for 1 5/8 miles over the Mellon turf course and a full field of 12 was entered for the turf. There are thunderstorms forecast for Tuesday night into part of Wednesday, and there are four horses entered for the main track. The race would be run at 1 1/4 miles if it’s transferred to dirt.

On turf, the race looks extremely wide open, with three of the top four finishers from a 1 3/8-mile allowance race here July 21 looking like the top contenders.

Call Provision won the race and Rocketry was third, with perhaps with a bit of a more difficult trip when he tried to rally from last.

“He got carried out right when he was putting in a big run,” Jimmy Jerkens, the trainer of Rocketry said. “It looked like he was going to hang, and he came on again.”

Jerkens is a little concerned should it rain.

“I don’t think he wants it too soft,” Jerkens said. “He’s a big, lanky, light-framed horse. I do think he’ll get over the top of it pretty good.”

Trainer Chad Brown sends out the uncoupled entry of Call Provision and Focus Group. Call Provision won that aforementioned allowance race by a neck over Hello Don Julio for his third win from five races over the Saratoga turf.

A New York-bred, Call Provision finished fourth in the Grade 1 Man o’ War at Belmont on May 12.

“He wasn’t beat too far, he just couldn’t quite stay with the class of those horses,” Brown said. “This seems like more of a reasonable spot, though the distance is unknown.”

Brown is excited to give Focus Group a shot in his first stakes. Brown said he sees Focus Group, a second-level allowance winner here on July 30, on an upward trajectory and that “I think he’ll get the distance.”

If the race is moved to dirt, Exulting and You’re to Blame look like the ones to beat.


Rocketry, by Hard Spun
Last 3 Beyers: 99-98-96
◗ Was beaten only two lengths in the Belmont Gold Cup going two miles.
◗ Won a 1 3/8-mile allowance race here last summer.
◗ Shows two solid works since his half-length loss here on July 21.

Call Provision, by Lemon Drop Kid
Last 3 Beyers: 100-103-101
◗ Has to overcome post 10.

Focus Group, by Kitten’s Joy
Last 3 Beyers: 96-89-88
◗ He is 2 for 4 over this turf course with both wins coming at 1 3/8 miles, and he won both with something left in the tank.
◗ Has gone 2 for 4 since Brown added blinkers to the colt’s equipment.

Patterson Cross, by Arch
Last 3 Beyers: 99-91-88
◗ Perhaps had the better of the trips of those who come out of the July 21 allowance race, where he was beaten a length.

This story originally appeared on DRF.com

Visit DRF.com for additional news, notes, wagering information, and more.

David Grening, Daily Racing Form

David Grening covers the New York Racing Association circuit of Aqueduct, Belmont, and Saratoga plus such national events as the Triple Crown and Breeders' Cup. He is a contributing author to "Champions" and joined Daily Racing Form in 1998.

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