Alysheba Stakes Horse-by-Horse Analysis & Betting Grades

Luis Saez has the ride on our turf-man's top pick - Chess Chief
Luis Saez has the ride on our turf-man's top pick - Chess Chief

1 1/16th (Dirt), The Alysheba Stakes (G2), Purse $400k, 4+ 

The Grade II Alysheba, named for one of the greatest horses of the 1980s, is a routing extravaganza for older runners. Alysheba not only succeeded on the Triple Crown Trail, but the Jack Van Berg-trained champ also rattled off 4 major wins before his retirement—including the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Recent winners in this Churchill Downs mainstay have included Protonico, Majestic Harbor, Bird Song, Backyard Heaven, McKinzie, and By My Standards. Each of those exhibited a special talent for going the distance. Who will join this prestigious list this year? 

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Now, let’s find out about this field… 

Kentucky Oaks 2021

#1 Visitant (Jky: U. Rispoli/Trn: W. Morey):

The Morey Barn isn’t known for entering many “Graded” events, but they are taking the plunge into this Grade II pool. This 5-year-old out of Ghostzapper has turned in some nice performances at Turfway Park. However, that lovely comment probably can be tossed out the window when it comes to this one gaming against what is shaping up to be a much tougher field. Morey looks like he is after pie in the sky, and even though Umberto Rispoli jumps on, it probably will do little good. Just hitting the board would be a worthy goal at this point.

Grade: C


#2 Sonneman (Jky: R. Santana/Trn: S. Asmussen): 

Courtlandt Farms has themselves a quality colt who has run quite a bit already as a 4-yr-old. In the Louisiana Series for older males, he went up against Title Ready, Chess Chief #4, and Maxfield #6. The results were mixed, but that experience will be worth its weight in gold when it comes to class. Now, fully seasoned, the HOF trainer is hopeful that Ricardo Santana can lead this one to “Graded” glory. With a running style that needs something to blast into, this son of Curlin has the late kick to get it done, if the fractions are right. Facing these old foes once again is going to make for an exciting contest.

Grade: B-


#3 Attachment Rate (Jky: J. Talamo/Trn: D. Romans): 

Once again, the song and dance of Dale Romans is being played in a “Graded” event. The book on his runners seems to be that they “show up” for ALLW Co. races, but when it comes to these major events, they fold quite easily. I am not sure how fit this son of Hard Spun is coming off a 3rd place in the Commonwealth (G3) at Keeneland. That effort was “good enough,” but there was no way he was going to catch Flagstaff down the lane. Losing Luis Saez is a major negative because Joe Talamo isn’t the caliber of rider that he is. Romans is getting every chance to prove me wrong in this spot. Let’s see if his runner is up to the challenge.

Grade: C

#4 Chess Chief (Jky: L. Saez/Trn: D. Stewart): 

If you were wondering where Luis Saez landed, look no further than Dallas Stewart’s entry. That speaks volumes in my estimation, and Saez is a “live” rider coming into Derby Week. The last time he was on this son of Into Mischief, he won the New Orleans Classic (G2) by a head over Owendale and Enforceable. After posting a nice speed fig, Stewart has this one primed for a return to Churchill. Though his record at the track is not that impressive (7:0-2-0), this horse has matured by leaps and bounds. Expect big things from this runner, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he has the edge when the wire arrives.

Grade: A-


#5 Roadster (Jky: I. Ortiz/Trn: B. Baffert): 

The son of Quality Road is one of the few older runners for legendary trainer Bob Baffert. There was a time when most thought he would lead an expansive stable to victory after victory. Since that “DQ” Derby of 2019 he has really done little in the way of winning. The Santa Anita Derby was the last time he visited the winner’s circle. Not to take away from his efforts, which have been against some top flight company, he just seems to always be on the outside looking in. In this spot, he is going to get a superior rider in Irad Ortiz, who has ridden him one other time before (2nd place – Damascus 100k@SA). That might go a long way to righting this ship, but don’t be surprised if he comes up short once again.

Grade: B-


#6 Maxfield (Jky: J. Ortiz/Trn: B. Walsh): 

In the Big ‘Cap last out, this son of Street Sense, trained by Brendan Walsh, finally lost a race. After 5 wins in a row, it seemed fitting. We cannot always be at our best. Now, the Godolphin homebred returns to Churchill, the site of a pair of wins that the colt enjoyed in 2019 and 2020. There is no doubt of this one’s talent, and Walsh is one of the most underrated conditioners in all of America. To get everything back on track, so to speak, the “Boys in Blue” turn to Jose Ortiz once again. He rode this one during his early days as a router, and that should help provide some stability. A convincing win should assist him getting back to what his connections are used to—winning.

Grade: B+


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