By Alan Carasso
Stonestreet Stables' 'TDN Rising Star' Beau Liam (Liam's Map), unbeaten in three starts in the lower grades, takes a steep rise in class as he squares off with the well-traveled Rushie (Liam's Map) in Saturday's GIII Ack Ack S. at Churchill Downs. Each could book a ticket to this year's GI Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile, won in spectacular fashion by their sire at Keeneland in 2015.
The homebred turned in a freakish effort on debut, sitting off a quick pace, cruising past the front-runners under a hold and scampering home by 7 1/2 lengths en route to his 'Rising Star'. The bay was never given a breather in a loaded first-level Saratoga allowance July 17, but battled on bravely to best the talented Witsel (Nyquist) by a nose and backed that up with a six-length success in an Aug. 29 allowance at the Spa. He stretches out to Churchill's one-turn mile Saturday, the same course and distance over which his dam Belle of Perintown (Dehere) won the 2002 Pocahontas S.
Rushie ran with credit along the Triple Crown trail in 2020, finishing third in the GI Santa Anita Derby in early June and in the GII Toyota Blue Grass S. the following month before striking from just off the pace in the GII Pat Day Mile on the Kentucky Derby undercard Sept. 5. Seventh to Knicks Go (Paynter) in the Dirt Mile, he has yet to get his picture taken in four tries this term, but has run well, including placings in the Apr. 10 Oaklawn Mile and in the GII Charles Town Classic Aug. 27 over a nine-furlong trip that is beyond his best.
South Bend (Algorithms) has taken just one of his last 16 starts, but he is unbeaten in two outings around one turn beneath the Twin Spires, having graduated at first asking over six furlongs before adding the Street Sense S. at the track and distance in 2019. He returns to the dirt off unplaced efforts on the turf at Saratoga in August and last month at Kentucky Downs.