Where’s Chris Could Ignite Derby Dreams for Dutrow in G2 Remsen

December 1, 2023

Where’s Chris after his victory in the Nashua Nov. 5 at Aqueduct (Joe Labozzetta)

NYRA Press Office

OZONE PARK, N.Y.— Nice Guys Stables’ Where’s Chris, last out winner of the Nashua here, will look to double up on stakes scores in Saturday’s Grade 2, $250,000 Remsen. The nine-furlong route for juveniles offers 10-5-3-2-1 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the top-five finishers.

Trainer Rick Dutrow, Jr., who won the 2008 Kentucky Derby with Big Brown, said he’s not adverse to doing a little Derby dreaming should Where’s Chris impress Saturday.

“I like dreaming as much as anybody. If he runs big, we can keep dreaming. Why not?” said Dutrow, Jr.

The Twirling Candy dark bay outdueled the pacesetting Book’em Danno to post a three-quarter length win in the one-turn mile Nashua on November 5 here. It was another 5 1/2-lengths back to Billal, who also returns in the Remsen for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott.

Where’s Chris, a $20,000 OBS Spring Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training purchase, stalked and pounced to a five-length score on debut in September here in a restricted six-furlong maiden tilt. He followed with an even third-place finish in an off-the-turf edition of the six-furlong Futurity on October 8 at Belmont at the Big A.

“That was a nice, little spot for him and he ran big that day,” said Dutrow, Jr. of the maiden score. “We really don’t know what his best game is because he ran big that day and he ran big last time. Even in his second race, he ran a good race.

“I know we’re trying two turns for the first time – which we’re not afraid of – he’s just doing good, and he’s been doing good for a while now,” continued Dutrow, Jr. “So, we’ll just hope that he’s looking for two turns.”

Where’s Chris is out of the multiple graded stakes-placed turfer Sea Queen, who won the nine-furlong Wonder Again here in 2014 ahead of a runner-up effort in the 10-furlong Grade 1 Belmont Oaks Invitational.

“We seem like we have a lot to look forward to here, especially that we’re seeing he’s showing up on the dirt which we were surprised by,” Dutrow, Jr. said. “So, we can’t wait to try him on the grass one day.”

Isaac Castillo retains the mount from post 8.

Dutrow will send out a pair of contenders in Race 2 Saturday, a seven-furlong sprint for 2-year-olds, in first-time starter El Capi [Post 1, Jose Gomez] and the promising Ignite the Light [post 6, Eric Cancel].

“I like both of them. We’re very happy with both of these horses,” Dutrow, Jr. said.

Jay Em Ess Stable’s Kentucky homebred Ignite the Light has made a pair of starts over the Big A main track, finishing fourth in his September debut sprinting six furlongs ahead of a close third last out when 1 1/2-lengths back of Sierra Leone on November 4 when traveling a one-turn mile. Sierra Leone is entered back in the Remsen.

“He’s a family horse. I love being around him,” Dutrow, Jr. said. “He’s doing good and we’re happy with him. He might be a horse that wants to look for blinkers in the future – I don’t know yet, I don’t like doing that so quickly on horses. We’ll play along with him, but we’re very happy with both of these horses.”

Dutrow, Jr. said Ignite the Light should handle the slight cut back to seven furlongs.

“We don’t know yet what his best game is and I don’t have any problem running him seven-eighths with proper timing, which he has,” Dutrow, Jr. said. “We’re still learning and so is he. So, we’ll just learn together and see what his best game is going to be at the end of the day.”

Ignite the Light, by Into Mischief, is a half-brother to dual Grade 1-winner By the Moon. He is out of the graded stakes-placed Malibu Moon mare By the Light.

P and G Stable’s El Capi, by Maclean’s Music, is out of the Flatter mare Nightlife Baby, who is a half-sister to stakes-placed Eddington’s Note. He has breezed extensively over the Belmont dirt training track, including a five-eighths gate breeze in 1:02 flat Saturday.

“El Capi drew the rail for his first start which we have to deal with, but he’s doing good,” Dutrow, Jr. said. “We’re very happy with him and he’s been doing good for the last month and a half.”

Dutrow, Jr. has enjoyed a successful return to training this year, banking in excess of $5.1 million through a record of 100-21-16-16 led by Grade 1 victories from C2 Racing Stable and La Milagrosa Stable’s White Abarrio in the Whitney at Saratoga and the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita.

White Abarrio has stayed on at Santa Anita and is pointing to the Group 1, $20 million Saudi Cup in February at King Abdulaziz Racecourse.

“He’s doing great. I was with him [Wednesday]. He’s happy as can be and so are we,” Dutrow, Jr. said.

@jonathanstettin great read as always!

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