With the Grade 2 Suburban Stakes on the agenda, Todd Pletcher isn’t slowing down on making Belmont Park his personal playground. Not this weekend, when he sends out Dynamic One and Untreated in Saturday’s Suburban on Belmont Park’s closing weekend.
The Suburban, which sends its 4-year-olds and up 10 furlongs on Big Sandy, is one of four stakes races on Belmont Park’s Stars and Stripes Racing Festival card. That card is headlined by the Grade 1 Belmont Derby Invitational and the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks Invitational. It also features the Grade 3 Victory Ride.
Trying to boost participation in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup, the New York Racing Association will waive starting, nomination, and entry fees for the top four Suburban finishers. The winner of that Sept. 3 race at Saratoga earns a “Win and You’re In” berth into the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Given what his charges are doing at Belmont Park, you can almost expect to see Dynamic One in that Jockey Club Gold Cup. Last weekend, Pletcher swept all four stakes races on Belmont Park’s Independence Day Weekend cards. He won the Grade 2 John A. Nerud with Life Is Good, the Grade 3 Dwyer with Charge It, the Perfect Sting with Jouster, and the Manilla with Annapolis.
Dynamic One improving at 4
Now, the Hall of Fame conditioner is pressing his momentum with Dynamic One. If that name sounds familiar, you paid attention to his trek along the 2021 Triple Crown trail. That means you know about his second in the Wood Memorial in his stakes debut and his 18th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby.
But perhaps you stopped paying attention at that point. That means you missed his Curlin Stakes victory two months later. And his seventh in the Travers the following month. And you probably didn’t notice that, this year, Dynamic One hasn’t finished off the board in three races (1-1-1).
That includes his last-out victory over his rival Scalding in the June 4 Listed Blame Stakes at Churchill Downs. That came with a career-best 99 Beyer Speed Figure and no small matter of satisfaction. Scalding beat Dynamic One in both the Grade 3 Challenger in March at Tampa Bay Downs and in the Grade 2 Ben Ali at Keeneland a month later. Dynamic One finished third in the Challenger and runner-up in the Ben Ali.
Pletcher brings two to the Suburban
“I think he ran very well last time and has taken a step forward in each of his starts this year,” Pletcher told the NYRA. “We’re hopefully heading in the right direction. He’s a horse that we always thought would improve with a little age and we have kind of seen that so far this season. Each race has been a gradual step forward, so, hopefully, he continues on that trend.”
The son of 2012 Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags, Dynamic One set his well-heeled owners, Repole Stable, St. Elias Stable, and Phipps Stable, back $725K at the 2019 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.
Pletcher also has a backup Suburban entry with Untreated. The son of 2016 Derby winner Nyquist is seeking a return to his 2021 form that produced two victories out of the gate. Untreated has a third, second, and a sixth since then. The third came last out, in the Grade 3 Pimlico Special to First Captain. The second came the start before, in the April 2 Excelsior at Aqueduct.
Max Player returns to defend
Speaking of First Captain, the $1.5 million colt heads into Belmont Park for the first time since winning last year’s Dwyer. With celebrity chef Bobby Flay as one of his owners, First Captain is 5-for-7 and has missed the board only once. That came two starts ago in the Grade 1 Carter, where the son of Curlin finished an uncharacteristic seventh.
And we haven’t mentioned the lone millionaire in this field, Max Player. Nor have we mentioned that he’s the defending Suburban champion. A repeat here would make Max Player the first horse to go back-to-back in the Suburban since the late Effinex in 2015-16. He hasn’t found the winner’s circle since winning last year’s Jockey Club Gold Cup.