ELMONT, N.Y. – In 2016, Runaway Lute won his first two starts like he was going to be the next poster boy for the New York-bred program. Things fell apart shortly thereafter for the son of Midnight Lute, who would go two years before winning again.
But his last win was an eye-opener. And if he’s able to run that race back, he’ll be tough to handle in Saturday’s $150,000 Hudson Handicap at Belmont Park. The Hudson, run at 6 1/2 furlongs, drew a field of nine, though Syndergaard ran in an allowance race here Thursday and will scratch from this spot.
Runaway Lute won his first two starts – including the Rockville Centre Stakes – by a combined 20 3/4 lengths in 2016. He went winless in five starts at 3, wrenching an ankle in an Aqueduct allowance last November. He returned to the races in June, finishing third in a second-level allowance before clearing that condition by 4 1/4 lengths on July 4. He ran seven furlongs that day in 1:21.39 earning a 103 Beyer Speed Figure.
At Saratoga, he was entered to run in the John Morrissey Stakes on July 26, but was scratched after flipping in the paddock. He stepped on himself during a July 30 work and missed the Saratoga meet.
Three of his last four workouts are bullets entering the Hudson, and trainer Gary Contessa loves the outside post draw for Runaway Lute.
“The outside post is really to his advantage,” said Contessa, who is having an excellent meet with 15 wins from 60 starters through Thursday’s 28th card of the meet. “He doesn’t like standing in the gate for a long period of time. He can just load and go.”
Runaway Lute, who will be reunited with Javier Castellano – aboard for those first two wins – will likely stalk the speed of Eye Luv Lulu, Gold for the King, and potentially My Boy Tate. My Boy Tate had a five-race winning streak snapped when he ran second in the Tale of the Cat Stakes in August. He then disappointed when fourth of five in an open-company allowance race Sept. 16. My Boy Tate gets the services of John Velazquez for the first time.
The Caretaker, who won just once in his first 14 starts, brings a three-race winning streak into the Hudson, his stakes debut.
Long Haul Bay, the Grade 3 Bay Shore winner in 2017, and Celtic Chaos, a multiple statebred stakes winner, would both benefit from a contested pace.
Holiday Disguise heads Iroquois
Trainer Linda Rice admits it might have been a big ask to bring Holiday Disguise back off a three-month layoff in the Grade 2 Gallant Bloom Handicap last month at Belmont Park. So, she wasn’t discouraged when the filly finished fifth, three lengths behind Union Strike.
“She had kind of a wide trip, got beat three lengths,” Rice said. “I thought it was a good effort off the layoff and should help us going forward.”
Saturday, Holiday Disguise looks to go forward when she drops back in with New York-breds and meets nine opponents in the $150,000 Iroquois Stakes for female sprinters at 6 1/2 furlongs.
Holiday Disguise is a four-time stakes winner, including a victory in the Grade 3 Distaff Handicap at Aqueduct in April. Holiday Disguise ran three times in five weeks at Belmont this spring, winning the Critical Eye by a nose over Highway Star, one of her main rivals Saturday.
Satisfy could be the up-and-comer in the New York-bred female sprint ranks. She has won 4 of 5 starts, including her last three. She beat open-company allowance horses by 2 1/4 lengths here Oct. 6 and is running back in two weeks.
“That was a big race the other day,” trainer Bill Mott said. “She was in between horses and just shoved her way through. It’s a little risky running her back that quick, but what do you do with her? If you got in an open two-other-than, it’s going to be a competitive race.”
Pauseforthecause has won two straight allowance races, both since having undergone a throat procedure.
“The [rail] is not great for us, but hopefully we can work out a trip,” trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said.
I Still Miss You has won her last three, all at Finger Lakes, and returns to Belmont where as a 2-year-old she won her first two starts, including the Astoria Stakes.
Picco Uno, Filibustin, Palladian Bridge, Royal Inheritance, and Frosty Margarita complete the field.
This story originally appeared on DRF.com.
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