The Futurity Stakes (GI) — sometimes referred to as the Belmont Futurity — was at one time, in the late 1800s, the richest race in North America. Up until 1957, horses were eligible to run after their connections made payment while they were still in utero, and after bouncing around from Sheepshead Bay Racetrack to Belmont and then to Aqueduct, it’s been a staple on the fall racing calendar at the Elmont, New York, oval since 1968.
Many good horses have won the Futurity, including Triple Crown winners Citation, Secretariat and Affirmed. Some other notables include Tom Fool, Native Dancer, Never Bend, Riva Ridge, Swale and Holy Bull.
This year, six will line up in the one-mile event and all have hopes to make the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on Nov. 4 at Santa Anita Park, as the race is the final event for 2-year-olds whose connections hope will make the gate for Racing’s Championship Day. Carded as the 8th, the race is set to go off at 4:13 p.m. ET.
New York-bred Snydergaard makes his first foray into open company, but judging by his last win by 10 lengths in the restricted Funny Cide Stakes at Saratoga in late August, the son of Majesticperfection should have little trouble handling his competition in here. Todd Pletcher, looking for his third win in the race, trains the chestnut colt and will leg up John Velazquez, who himself will be looking for his sixth Futurity win. Snydergaard will no doubt be gunning for the lead from the break and will be very tough for his competition to run down.
Practical Joke, who quite possibly carries the most clever name in racing today (by Into Mischief — Halo Humor, by Distorted Humor) rides a two-race win streak, including the Hopeful Stakes (GI) last out. The Chad Brown trainee has never done a thing wrong either in the mornings or afternoons and is one of the bunch who likes to sit off the pace and wait for the speed to back up. The rail isn’t an ideal draw in the one-turn mile, but, because of his running style, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem. If he can avoid getting trapped on the rail under jockey Joel Rosario, getting to the wire in front for the sole Grade I winner in the field is a good bet.
Favorable Outcome is the other runner trainer Chad Brown will tighten the girth on and the Kentucky-bred son of Flatter will make his first start against winners after breaking his maiden by six lengths at Saratoga back in August. His best asset for this race, aside from talent and connections, is that he looks to be a mid-pack runner who will get a lot of speed to run at. Javier Castellano returns to ride and the pair drew the five post, which is good considering most of the speed will be to their inside. He’s training well and a top effort puts him right in the hunt.
Big Gray Rocket ships in from California off a nice 6 ¾-length maiden win at Del Mar. The Futurity may be the one big juvenile race Hall of Famer Bob Baffert has yet to win, so he sends in one of his big guns. The son of Tapit and the Grade I-winning Game Plan mare Mistical Plan has been training spectacularly at his home base of Santa Anita since he broke his maiden five weeks ago and is another who will appreciate a quick pace in front of him. Mike Smith, who won this race aboard the great Holy Bull in 1993, makes the cross-country trip for the mount and the pair deserve an extra-long look before heading to the windows.
It isn’t very often you get a Todd Pletcher-trained maiden winner at 12-1 on the morning line in a juvenile stakes, but Thirst For Victory is one. He broke his maiden despite trouble and while his numbers didn’t set any records, he did have some trouble so, with a clean trip, we can probably expect some improvement.
Lookin at Blessing will be part of the pace for sure and if he runs back to his last, where he broke his maiden by 2 ¼ lengths, he’ll be right in the thick of things at the wire.