Perfect Union aims to win his second consecutive Appleton while taking on a solid group of ratings horses, including stakes-placed Andi’amu and the promising Lyonell.
Andi’amu. Another steady import for Leslie and Paddy Young, French-bred took on the big boys here last year, finishing fourth behind Rawnaq, Scorpiancer and Sharp Rise. There are none of them in here but still meets a solid group while riding a seven-race losing streak. If you go back to his win at Monmouth and his second in the Turf Writers last summer, he’s the horse to beat.
Parker’s Project. Scratched.
Lord Justice. Scratched.
Simenon. Gallant and accomplished veteran has yet to recapture his best form in five tries since coming to America. Always a hard task for an older horse to change careers and the 10-year-old hasn’t appeared to be a shadow of himself. Remember when he won two races in four days at Royal Ascot in 2012? Remember when he was fourth in the Melbourne Cup in 2013? Memories.
Kremlin. Promising maiden winner at Nashville, he failed to replicate that in two tries at Saratoga, but lines can be drawn through them as he did too much the first time and ran back too quick the second time. Any horse who wins the maiden at the Iroquois deserves respect. He could bounce back here.
Lyonell. Did you see his flat race at Shawan Downs? Wow. German-bred fell in this race last year when he was making just his third career start against more experienced horses. With a year under his belt and after two solid tries this spring, he returns as a major player. Chased Moscato at Nashville this spring. Nice horse.
Perfect Union. Veteran of 18 races aims to replicate his 35-length win in this race last year. Steady as a clock, he’s the epitome of a ratings horse, a notch or two below open stakes horses, better than a claimer and still active over hurdles instead of becoming a timber horse. Obviously set up for this at the end of the spring, he prepped on the flat at Virginia Fall. Last year’s champ Kieran Norris returns. Carries four pounds more than last year.
Curve Of Stones. Virginia-bred enjoyed two big efforts to begin his career last spring, winning on soft and yielding turf, but has been on the skids ever since. Would love to see a resurgence or at least a reclamation of his early form, but hard to build a case for it. Added blinkers two starts ago, but that hasn’t worked. Gets in light, new jockey.
Plated. Another one who tried Saratoga to no avail, he returns to a hunt meet environment, which can only help. He won the 3-mile ratings race at the Iroquois meet this spring, actually beat Grand National contender All The Way Jose that day. Danny Mullins, who could have a big day, takes the reins for the first time.