09/08/2016 2:36PM

Allied Air Raid makes grass debut in Unbridled Stakes

Lou Hodges Jr./Hodges Photography
String King won the Unbridled Stakes last year (above) and goes for a repeat on Saturday.

It was a year ago this week that trainer Brad Cox expressed an interest in moving Allied Air Raid to turf following his third-place finish in the Super Derby at Louisiana Downs. On Saturday, Allied Air Raid is going green.

Cox has entered Allied Air Raid in the $75,000 Unbridled, one of four stakes supporting this year’s Super Derby. A 1 1/16-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and up, the Unbridled also is part of an all-stakes pick four running on races 8-11. The pool is guaranteed at $100,000.

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The sequence is a difficult one, in part because of the 12-horse Unbridled. The field includes last year’s winner, String King, and his fellow Louisiana-bred millionaire Sunbean. Coalport, meanwhile, has been racing at Saratoga, and Mobile Bay, the winner of last year’s Super Derby, has won on grass. Adding further depth to the field is Potomac River, a multiple Grade 3 winner and earner of $400,000.

The Weather Channel is calling for a 40 percent chance of precipitation Saturday, which could result in soft turf. Either way, Cox feels good about the turf test for Allied Air Raid.

“I think he’ll handle it,” he said. “We’ve been thinking about running him on the grass ever since last fall. We actually entered in a grass race last fall at Keeneland, and he was excluded from the race. So, it’s something we’ve thought about for a while.”

Cox said another reason Allied Air Raid has not yet raced on turf is because he’s been consistent on dirt. He’s coming off a second in the Grade 3 Salvator Mile on July 2 at Monmouth Park and a third in the $200,000 West Virginia Governor’s Cup at Mountaineer.

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“He’s a very honest horse,” said Cox.

One of the reasons Allied Air Raid came under consideration for turf in the first place was his pedigree, said Cox. The horse is a son of Midshipman and out of the Boundary mare Stake.

“I’ve had two other Midshipmans that have run on the grass,” Cox said. “And he’s closely related to Jack Milton, who was a good grass horse, on his bottom side. There’s some grass in there.”

Allied Air Raid will break from post 10 under Joe Bravo, who was aboard for his starts at Monmouth and Mountaineer.

Cox, who won a pair of turf stakes this summer at Evangeline Downs when he last ran horses in Louisiana, also will be active in two other legs of the pick four. He has Royal By Nature in the eighth race, the $75,000 Sunday Silence, and My Love Venezuela in the ninth, the $75,000 River Cities.

The Sunday Silence is for 2-year-olds at a mile on turf, and Royal By Nature is one of a handful of starters proven at the trip. He was a 5 1/4-length debut winner of a maiden special weight at a mile on turf Aug. 10 at Indiana Grand.

“He made a big run down the middle of the track,” Cox said. “It was a good effort. We’re putting him in a little bit deeper water to see what kind of horse he is. It looks like a solid race.”

Hembree won his debut in a maiden special weight sprint on turf Aug. 24 at Saratoga. Gentlemengentlemen is undefeated in two starts, with his latest effort a wire-to-wire score in the $50,000 Louisiana Cup Juvenile at Louisiana Downs. Boston Marathoner is a promising son of Gio Ponti, and Kielbasa was a maiden special weight winner at mile on turf Aug. 6 at Arlington Park.

The River Cities, which is for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on the grass, is led by Artistic License. She will be seeking to win her sixth consecutive race. She has built her streak on turf, winning her four grass appearances this past meet at Lone Star Park, then adding another turf win last month at Remington Park. C.J. McMahon has the mount for trainer Bret Calhoun.

The chief threat could be C d’Cat, who has been effective over a variety of turf courses in New York. She was edged by a nose in an optional $40,000 claiming race at Saratoga in her most recent start Aug. 28. Bravo has the mount for trainer Joe Sharp.

The pick-four sequence ends on the Super Derby.

The first stakes on the card is the $75,000 Happy Ticket, which is for 2-year-old fillies at a mile on turf. High Fashion Diva was a maiden special weight winner at two turns on turf in her last start July 17 at Lone Star. Since the race, she has turned in a pair of bullet five-furlong moves at her fall base of Remington Park. Richard Eramia has the mount for trainer Allen Milligan.