10/01/2015 11:58AM

Red Mile: Ryder seeks Bluegrass success with 3-year-olds

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Derick Giwner
National Seelster looks to pick up his ninth win of 2015 on Saturday at The Red Mile.

The fall has begun and with it comes The Red Mile’s Grand Circuit action on Saturday night. The best 3-year-olds of each division will get tested and trainer Chris Ryder is hopeful that his pair of pacers will enjoy their time in Kentucky. On the colt side, Ryder sends out National Seelster, a New York-bred son of Bettor’s Delight that has a family tree suggesting Bluegrass success. On the filly front, there is The Show Returns, a filly that has had highs and lows this year and enters the Bluegrass seeming to be on an upswing.

“He’s good right now,” said Ryder of National Seelster. “We added Lasix and I think that has helped him the last couple of starts.”

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National Seelster drew the rail in a $93,000 Bluegrass division with regular pilot Andy Miller in the bike. Much like the top ranked Wiggle It Jiggleit, National Seelster started his sophomore campaign in January at The Meadowlands and is still going strongly today.

“He’s not a horse that likes racing on the front end,” said Ryder. “He’s a lazy horse.” Nevertheless, National Seelster has won eight times in 19 starts this year with over $203,000 in earnings in his first year on the racetrack. While the horse has often been luckless drawing poorly in rich races, the trainer refused to give alibis. “That’s racing luck,” said Ryder. Still its hard to avoid a past performance page that shows post positions eight, eight and nine in finals of the Messenger, Empire Breeders Classic and Adios.

Ryder joked about National Seelster’s penchant to pull himself up when on the front end. “If you saw the race at Monticello, Jimmy (Morrill Jr.) was more tired at the end of the race than the horse was,” Ryder said in regard to the New York Sire Stakes victory on June 8.

On the pedigree side, something noticed heavily this time of year at the Red Mile with major yearling sales to commence on Monday, National Seelster’s dam side has some proven Red Mile success stories. Those include his third dam Delinquent Account, her son Artiscape and the brother in blood to National Seelster’s dam, Western Terror.

National Seelster faces a wide-open group on Saturday including In The Arsenal, most recently third in the Messenger Stakes. In The Arsenal landed post four with Brian Sears listed to drive for trainer Kelvin Harrison. With a dozen wins in 24 starts in his two seasons of racing, In The Arsenal comes to Lexington with just one victory in his last five starts.

The Show Returns enters Saturday’s $63,800 Bluegrass (race 12) division after a solid second at The Meadows in the Nadia Lobell on September 16. “She’s coming into the race in good shape,” said Ryder. “I just don’t want to see her getting roughed up early.”

While The Show Returns, a full sister to champion Put On A Show, has been in her big sister’s shadow, she has still performed admirably this year in a division that has been without a leader from the start. John Campbell has guided her to some of her best efforts including a New Jersey Sire Stakes final victory at The Meadowlands. He’ll be in the bike on Saturday.

The Show Returns will have to deal with a solid field that includes Divine Caroline (post 2) and the unlucky Jugette first-heat favorite Band Of Angels. The latter filly looks to regain winning form after getting shuffled out of the Jugette for trainer Ron Burke.

Speaking of Burke, his presence will be felt on Saturday from the outset with the first race on the card featuring the premier sophomore trotting filly in North America, Mission Brief. The daughter of Muscle Hill drew post seven in the $72,000 Bluegrass division with Yannick Gingras in the bike. Mission Brief arrives after some vintage performances at Mohawk including a 1:52 4/5 romp in the Elegantimage final on September 19. Saturday’s performance by Mission Brief may tell a tale of how far she has distanced herself from the fillies chasing her and whether she deserves another chance against the boys in the October 10 Kentucky Futurity.

The Lexington Selected Yearling Sale commences on Monday and trainer Ryder was in town to inspect the next generation. “Hip number 24,” said Ryder. “Yea I looked at her. She’s very nice.”

Ryder was referring to the filly Beach Showoff, the first foal from the $2.4 million winner Put On A Show, a filly Ryder campaigned for owners Richard and Joanne Young. Somebeachsomewhere is the sire of Beach Showoff.

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