The 3-year-old son of Silver Tree has answered questions with every victory – questions regarding whether he could handle surface changes, increasing distances, and steps up in class – and each time the answer has been a resounding, “Yes!” However, questions remain in the Raymond Earl. This time the Phil Gleaves trainee will have to prove whether he can withstand the stamina test of a 1 ½-mile contest as well as whether he can compete against older horses.
“I’ve wanted, because of his pedigree, to try him going long on the turf, and this seemed like a good opportunity, even though I do understand it’s against older horses,” Gleaves said.“I don’t change up the training too much; I just keep him sound and keep him happy and healthy. The genetics will dictate whether he’ll be effective at 1 ½ mile or not. Silver Tree won at 1 ¼ mile, so I’m hoping the genes from him to run turf routes shows up in Rizwan.”
Rizwan scored the first stakes victory of his nine-race career last time out in Gulfstream’s English Channel Stakes on May 2, gamely holding off a fast-closing Comanche’s Storm to prevail by a neck in the 1 1/16-mile event. He’s worked three times since, most recently breezing four furlongs in 49 3/5 seconds on May 21.
“He came out of the [English Channel] very well,” Gleaves said. “He seems to have bounced back. He’s breezed three times between races, the most recent of which was [Thursday] morning, and he looked very good to me.”
Rizwan’s previous three victories came in grassy starter allowances with one second-place finish on dirt, in which the sophomore came just a ½-length short of victory, mixed in between. After breaking his maiden against $25,000 maiden claimers over a sloppy main track last November, the consistent and versatile Rizwan has risen far above his modest beginnings.
“He gives his all every time,” Gleaves said. “He started this winter to really train better than he had before, and so, presumably that just meant that he was improving physically, and his races certainly have shown that he has improved. It was a great thrill to win the English Channel and also for Peter Vegso, the owner. He’s such a great guy and very good for the sport, and it’s good to win for him.”
Rizwan has been installed the 3-1 second choice on the morning line; he will break from post 6 under regular rider Jose Caraballo.
Great Hill Stables’ Morning Calm is the tepid 5-2 morning line favorite, as the 4-year-old is the only horse in the field with a prior win at the distance. The son of Broken Vow most recently scored a ½-length come-from-behind victory in a 1 7/16-mile allowance at Gulfstream on April 4. Trained by Michelle Nihei, the colt will be ridden by Eddie Castro.
Jacks or Better Farm’s Best Plan Yet won the Forty Nine Stakes last summer for trainer Stanley Gold but hasn’t recorded a victory since. The 4-year-old son of Hear No Evil will look to recapture his winning ways in the Raymond Earl. Trained by Stanley Gold, Best Plan Yet most recently finished an encouraging fourth, beaten just ¾-length, in an upper-level allowance at Gulfstream on May 9.
Recent maiden winner Secret Chance and the Ralph Nicks-trained Arch Avenger are also among the Raymond Earl entrants. Tap and Trade and Franklinpark round out the field.