One-turn mile graded races always attract intriguing fields, and Saturday's GII Pat Day Mile S. for sophomores at Churchill is no exception. Favored on the morning line is the Coolmore contingent's $3.65-million Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream buy Cezanne (Curlin). A debut winner sprinting at Santa Anita June 6, he added a first-level allowance tally going this distance (but around two turns) at Los Alamitos July 2. The Bob Baffert trainee didn't necessarily win like his 1-9 odds that day suggested he might, however, and then could only manage fourth–albeit while earning a field's-best 101 Beyer Speed Figure–behind stablemate Thousand Words (Pioneerof the Nile) and leading GI Kentucky Derby contender Honor A. P. (Honor Code) in the Aug. 1 Shared Belief S. With so much speed signed on to his outside, Cezanne will have to come out running and need some racing luck to work out a winning trip from the one hole.
'TDN Rising Star' Echo Town (Speighstown) checked in second behind the late scratch No Parole (Violence) in the GI Woody Stephens S. Presented by Claiborne Farm on GI Belmont S. day June 20. But Echo Town got the better of his foe when uncorking a powerful late rally in Saratoga's GI H. Allen Jerkens S. Presented by Runhappy Aug. 1. No Parole faded to ninth that day.
Tap It to Win (Tapit), meanwhile, turned heads with a five-length allowance romp over a one-turn 8 1/2 panels at Belmont June 4. He wheeled back in sixteen days for the Belmont S., but couldn't only manage fifth after setting the pace. He was second after a stalking trip in the Jerkens, and could find this distance a perfect fit.
Vertical Threat (Tapiture) scratched out of last Saturday's GII Pat O'Brien S. at Del Mar for this, and gets tested for class after a 5 1/4-length score in the restricted Smiling Tiger S. July 25. Rushie (Liam's Map) was third in both the GI Runhappy Santa Anita Derby and GII Toyota Blue Grass S. at Keeneland going 1 1/8 miles. He broke his maiden at this distance, and his sire Liam's Map took the 2015 GI Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile.