Sketch hopes to draw up a winning trip in $150K Paradise Creek
Stakes Advance
May 17, 2024
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Sketch hopes to draw up a winning trip in $150K Paradise Creek

by Keith McCalmont

Irish-bred Sketch and returning jockey Flavien Prat will look to improve upon a rallying fifth-place finish in the Listed William Walker when they stretch out slightly in distance for Sunday’s Listed, $150,000 Paradise Creek, a six-furlong outer turf sprint for sophomores, at Belmont at the Big A.

Trained by Conor Murphy for his Riverside Bloodstock in partnership with Falcon Thoroughbreds, Barry Golden, Dan Beaty and Keith Myrick, the Showcasing colt was purchased for $282,915 at the Tattersalls Autumn Horses-in-Training Sale after a strong 2-year-old campaign in England for trainers Martyn and Freddie Meade.

A frontrunning winner at first asking in July over good going at Newbury, Sketch followed with a distant sixth to well-regarded Vandeek in the Group 2 Richmond on August 3 at Goodwood but made amends three weeks later with a good third in the Julia Graves Roses at York won by next out Group 3-winner Inquisitively. Sketch completed his juvenile campaign with a prominent sixth in the Group 1 Middle Park at Newmarket, finishing 6 3/4-lengths back of the undefeated dual Group 1-winner Vandeek.

“He's a lovely colt. His 2-year-old form in England was fairly high class. I didn't think we'd get him, but luckily, we did,” Murphy said. “It was a very good run at Newmarket. That's the best 2-year-old race in Europe for sprinters and he was beat six and three-quarter lengths and Vandeek was Champion 2-Year-Old. Looking at his pedigree, I think he can go two turns as well, but I am looking forward to getting him in going six furlongs on Sunday.”

Sketch arrived in the U.S. on Thanksgiving weekend and Murphy said he allowed the colt 6-to-8 weeks to acclimatize with his first breeze not coming until February over the all-weather surface at Skylight Training Center in Goshen, Kentucky.

Sketch was pointed to the 5 1/2-furlong Listed Palisades on April 7 at Keeneland but scratched from the also-eligible list along with returning rival Works for Me. Murphy re-routed his charge to the 5 1/2-furlong William Walker on May 1 at Churchill Downs and landed in post 11-of-12 where he raced near the back of the pack before launching a nine-wide bid to finish three lengths back of wire-to-wire winner Joe Shiesty.

Murphy said he was pleased with the effort although he might have preferred one more gate prep for the colt’s first stateside start.

“We worked him his penultimate work before the Palisades out of the gate and he worked pretty sharp,” Murphy said. “I thought he was fairly fit, and I didn’t want to give him another work before the William Walker, and it told. He got away a step slow, and the draw wasn't ideal. Flavien did the right thing and let him find his feet. That day, it was warm and they were flying up front and the winner was on the lead the whole way. I was happy with how he finished down the stretch.

“I expect him to be a lot sharper Sunday,” added Murphy. “It’s a two-and-a-half-week turnaround and having to ship but he’s come out of the race so well, we're going to take a shot. The extra half furlong for him Sunday should be ideal.”

Prat retains the mount from post 4.

Ironhorse Racing Stable and Harlow Stables’ stakes-winner Mattingly [post 3, Trevor McCarthy] finished a close fifth last out in the aforementioned Palisades.

Trained by Joe Orseno, the Bucchero colt exited the inside post under Paco Lopez and stalked in fourth position before tipping out six wide with a belated bid to finish 2 3/4-lengths back of the victorious Fandom.

The $70,000 OBS March Sale of 2-Year-Olds-in-Training purchase has proven to be a versatile sort, graduating at second asking last June over the Gulfstream Park synthetic ahead of a runner-up effort in the Victoria one month later on Tapeta at Woodbine.

Mattingly returned from a brief freshening in September to win the five-furlong Hollywood Beach over the all-weather at Gulfstream before running well in Florida-sired dirt stakes at the Hallandale Beach oval when second in the seven-furlong Affirmed and fourth in the 1 1/16-mile In Reality.

“He's by Bucchero and those horses run on anything,” Orseno said. “I thought when I first got him, he was going to be a better turf/Tapeta horse and then I ran him on the dirt, and he ran on dirt, too. That's another reason we thought we'd send him up - turf is good for him, but if it comes off, he'll still run.”

Orseno said he is hopeful jockey Trevor McCarthy can work out a close-up stalking trip.

“I think his best race is right off the pace, but he has enough speed leaving the gate that if he has to go, he can,” Orseno said.

Mattingly is out of the 10-time winning Grand Slam mare Battingstar.

A pair of impressive maiden winners co-owned by R. A. Hill Stable and previously trained by the suspended George Weaver in Devil in Disguise [post 6, Irad Ortiz, Jr.] and Feltrinelli [post 2, Manny Franco] were entered by conditioner Mitchell Friedman.

Devil in Disguise, who is cross-entered in Saturday's Roar at Gulfstream, was purchased for $400,000 at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale. He rallied from last-of-8 to win his debut on March 31 sprinting five furlongs over the Gulfstream synthetic.

The Bolt d'Oro colt is out of the winning Distorted Humor mare Little Jude, who is a half-sister to multiple Grade 1-winning multi-millionaire Little Mike.

Feltrinelli, out of the multiple graded stakes-winning Harlan’s Holiday mare Fantastic Style, has hit the board in all three career starts, including third place finishes in an off-the-turf event in August at Saratoga and a six-furlong turf sprint in September here won by returning rival Apollo Ten.

The Uncle Mo colt arrives from a local nose victory against older maiden special weight company going the Paradise Creek distance on May 3.

KatieRich Stables, Christopher Connors and Lawrence Appel’s stakes-winner Works for Me [post 1, Dylan Davis] will look to return to winning ways for trainer Joe Lee.

The New York-bred son of Daddy Long Legs graduated last June over Big Sandy and two starts later was second to Group 3-placed Book’em Danno in an off-the-turf edition of the Futurity on October 8 at Belmont at the Big A. He followed with a good third to the victorious Please Advise from post 3-of-9 in the six-furlong Atlantic Beach over firm Aqueduct turf. Works for Me returned two weeks later to win the state-bred Notebook by a head sprinting the same distance on dirt.

Works for Me finished fourth in his seasonal debut in February in an off-the-turf optional-claiming event at Fair Grounds. He trained for the Palisades at Keeneland but ultimately scratched and returned to New York when a pacesetting sixth under Irad Ortiz, Jr. in the one-mile Woodhaven against open company over firm turf last out on April 27.

Lee said the one-mile Woodhaven distance was likely too far for Works for Me, who had been entered in an open-company turf sprint against elders one day later here.

“Irad couldn't get him back and Carlos Martin’s horse [Ridgewood Runner] was going. So, Irad tried to get him to the front and settle him but that didn’t work out very well,” Lee said of the Woodhaven effort. “He looks like a sprinter, and he's been running well short. In the Atlantic Beach, he was only beaten a half-length by a good horse, Please Advise. I believe he wants to go short. I wish we'd gone in the allowance race the day after the Woodhaven, I think he would have run well.”

Works for Me is cross-entered in a six-furlong New York-bred allowance optional-claiming sprint on Saturday [Race 5, post 4] here and Lee said a decision will be made once he has reviewed both fields with the ownership.

No matter which race he runs in, the talented chestnut will be sporting new equipment.

“It’s a rubber figure-eight and it will keep his mouth closed. He seems to be a little more in himself when he trains in the morning with it,” Lee said. “He’ll have the same ring bit, but we'll use the rubber figure eight just to keep his mouth closed and a little more controlled. Let's see if he can sit off of it.”

Rounding out a talented group are stakes-placed Smokey Smokey [post 9, Ramon Vazquez] for trainer Mike Maker; two-time winner Apollo Ten [post 5, Joel Rosario] for trainer Christophe Clement; and maiden winners Summer in Adriane [post 8, John Velazquez] for conditioner Tom Morley and the John Terranova-trained Laser Sharp [post 7, Luis Rivera, Jr.].

The Paradise Creek is slated as Race 8 on Sunday’s nine-race card. First post is 1:05 p.m. Eastern.

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