Carson’s Run to Return in Woodhaven

April 21, 2024

Carson’s Run takes the Summer (G1) Sep. 16 at Woodbine (Michael Burns)

G2 American Turf + Blinkers Next for Cugino

G1 Fourstardave Long-Term Target for Northern Invader

Integration Headed to G1 Turf Classic

Kertez Pointing Towards G2 Man O’ War

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NYRA Press Office

OZONE PARK, N.Y.— West Point Thoroughbreds and Steven Bouchey’s Grade 1-winner Carson’s Run will make his return to the races in Saturday’s $125,000 Woodhaven, a one-mile turf test for sophomores, at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Trained by Christophe Clement, Carson’s Run put together a strong juvenile campaign that included a debut win in July at Saratoga Race Course and a Grade 1 triumph when shipping to Woodbine to capture the Summer in September.

In between those efforts was a game runner-up finish to the filly Gala Brand in the Grade 3 With Anticipation at the Spa, where he was defeated a half-length. He closed out the year with a ninth-place finish in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf in November at Santa Anita Park.

The talented colt is named in honor of Carson Yost, who was born with the rare genetic disorder Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome. Carson is the son of Wade Yost, a former classmate of West Point Thoroughbreds’ founder Terry Finley at the United States Military Academy.

Jason Blewitt, Executive Vice President of West Point Thoroughbreds, said the group is excited to see Carson’s Run make his much-anticipated return to the races.

“He’s doing well,” said Blewitt. “He had an unbelievable season last year with the ride he took us on – winning first out at Saratoga, nearly winning the With Anticipation, getting that Grade 1 win in the Summer, and taking us to the Breeders’ Cup with his feel-good story. After the Breeders’ Cup, Christophe thought it would be best to give him a well-deserved vacation. He had a super promising campaign as a 2-year-old, so we’re excited and hoping he keeps progressing and evolving.”

Carson’s Run has worked regularly at Payson Park since February, and had his first work at Belmont Park this morning, covering five furlongs in 1:05 flat over the dirt training track.

“He’s a pretty horse to look at and I expect him to be better on the turf [than he worked on dirt],” said Christophe Clement. “We’ve got a race for him next Saturday and that’s the plan at the moment.”

Blewitt added the Woodhaven is a great starting point for Carson’s Run, and that his long-term goals include the Grade 1, $750,000 Belmont Derby Invitational on July 6 at Belmont at the Big A, the Grade 1, $600,000 Saratoga Derby Invitational on August 3 at the Spa, and the Grade 3 Jockey Club Derby Invitational this fall at Belmont at the Big A.

“There’s so much opportunity for 3-year-old turf horses in this day and age, with the Belmont Derby, Saratoga Derby, and Jockey Club Derby,” said Blewitt. “The dream is to have him build off that 2-year-old season and compete at the highest level.”

Cugino (outside) narrowly misses in the Transylvania (G3) April 5 at Keeneland (Courtney Snow/Past The Wire)

Along with Carson’s Run, West Point Thoroughbreds has another top prospect in the sophomore turf male division in Cugino, who finished a heartbreaking second in the Grade 3 Transylvania traveling 1 1/16 miles on April 5 at Keeneland.

Co-owned by Jimmy Kahig and trained by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey, the Twirling Candy bay was five-wide in the early stages under Hall of Famer Javier Castellano and angled in two paths down the backstretch while going head-to-head for the lead with Musical Act. He stuck his head in front at the top of the lane and battled on bravely but was caught at the wire by the rallying Neat to his inside and defeated a nose.

“I’m so proud of him,” said Blewitt. “He’s such a cool dude and we have his half-brother Battle of Normandy. It was crushing for him to have that kind of trip, run that well, and not win. The effort he put in is probably good enough to win a race 99.9 percent of the time, but he came out of it in great shape.”

Blewitt said Cugino will now look to the Grade 2 American Turf, a 1 1/16-mile turf test for sophomores on the May 4 Kentucky Derby undercard at Churchill Downs, with an equipment change.

“He’ll go to the American Turf in blinkers,” said Blewitt. “Javier said that as big as he ran, he felt he was a little unfocused at times. It will be amazing to have him run on Derby Day. Much like Carson, the Belmont Derby and those 3-year-old turf races in New York are the goal with him.”

In the older male turf division, stakes-winner Northern Invader made a strong return to the winner’s circle on Friday at Keeneland for trainer Cherie DeVaux and co-owner David Ingordo.

The chestnut son of Collected won the Gio Ponti in October here ahead of runner-up efforts in a pair of stakes at Fair Grounds, one off-the-turf and one on, to close out his sophomore campaign. He returned in March to be fourth in a Fair Grounds turf allowance before claiming victory again last out with his tidy 2 1/4-length score over stakes-winner Belouni in the one-mile turf tilt.

Blewitt said the Grade 1, $500,000 Fourstardave Handicap on August 10 – offering a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Mile in November at Del Mar – could be a good long-term target, with the one-mile Grade 3, $350,000 Poker on June 8 at Saratoga as a bridge.

“Cherie just does such a great job,” said Blewitt. “Northern Invader set the bar so high last year, and I was a little underwhelmed with his races this winter, so I just don’t think he loved Fair Grounds. It was great to see him put that so-so winter campaign behind him with that win at Keeneland. He’s through that allowance condition, and I don’t know what Cherie has planned, but he may be a horse for the Fourstardave. I’ve thought all along this horse could be a Grade 1 quality miler on the grass. Cherie always sends a string to Saratoga, and I’m sure he’ll be nominated to the Poker.”

Integration impresses in the Hill Prince (G2) Nov. 18 at Aqueduct (Walter Wlodarczyk)

Dual graded stakes-winner Integration, trained by McGaughey, finished a hard-trying third in the Grade 1 Maker’s Mark Mile on April 12 and is being pointed to the Grade 1 Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic on May 4 at Churchill Downs.

Blewitt said Integration did not care for the yielding footing in the Maker’s Mark, where he finished 4 1/2 lengths behind Master of the Seas and got his neck down for show honors over Shirl’s Speight.

“Both Shug and Frankie Dettori said the horse was spinning his wheels and wasn’t comfortable on that softer ground,” said Blewitt. “We’re looking forward to a beautiful day in Louisville.”

Should Integration perform well in the Turf Classic, Blewitt said it may warrant a start in the Grade 1, $1 million Resorts World Casino Manhattan on the June 8 Belmont Stakes undercard at Saratoga.

“It’s been in the back of my mind that he can be a legit Grade 1 talent on the turf, and the race I really want to make with him is the Manhattan,” said Blewitt. “Assuming things go well Derby Day, we’d have to take a serious look at it. We love supporting New York racing.”

Blewitt added the Clement-trained graded stakes-winner Kertez, who won the Grade 2 Pan American by a nose in March at Gulfstream, is likely being pointed to the Grade 2, $400,000 Man o’ War on May 11 here.

“We won the Grade 2 with him on Florida Derby Day and there’s more in the tank with him,” said Blewitt. “He’s going to have to be better in the Man o’ War, but I think he’ll be up to the task.”

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