Dr Post continues Saratoga work in hopes of potential Kentucky Derby (G1) start; Moretti eyes Woodward (G1)
by NYRA Press Office
- Kentucky Derby (G1) hopeful Ny Traffic, G1 winner Math Wizard breeze
- Canada's HOTY Starship Jubilee to return to the Spa for $500K Diana (G1)
- Funny Guy continues training at Spa; Stan the Man eyes Tale of the Cat start
- Seasons likely to wait for Miss Grillo (G2)
- NYRA teams with Monmouth, Woodbine for all-stakes Cross Country Pick
- Saratoga Week 6 Stakes Probables
Under normal circumstances, a workout in the second week of August for a top 3-year-old at Saratoga would mean continued preparation for the Grade 1 Runhappy Travers. But 2020 has changed schedules across the sporting landscape, with the Travers having already been contested on August 8. Instead, St. Elias Stable's Dr Post will continue on the Saratoga work tab with a potential spot in the Grade 1, $3 million Kentucky Derby on September 5 serving as a target for the Todd Pletcher trainee.
Dr Post, who was the runner-up to Tiz the Law [the subsequent Travers winner] in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes on June 20, ran third in the Grade 1 Haskell on July 18 at Monmouth Park. The Quality Road colt registered his first work since that effort on August 7, going four furlongs in 50.55 over the Spa's main track. Pletcher said he is slated to work again Friday morning.
"He's doing well and we expect him to go out tomorrow and we'll continue to monitor how he trains," Pletcher said.
Dr Post has accumulated 80 qualifying points for the "Run for the Roses" with $331,035 in non-restricted stakes earnings, putting him eighth on the leaderboard for what once again could be the Derby' famed full 20-horse field.
Since running fourth in his debut in July 2019 at Belmont, Dr Post has finished on the board in his last four starts, including a maiden breaking win in his sophomore bow on March 29 at Gulfstream Park before winning the Unbridled at 1 1/16 miles on April 25 at the same track.
"We'll check in with the owners and figure out a game plan," Pletcher said. "The Derby is in play for sure. We're happy with the way he's going, so we'll see how the next couple of weeks go."
Pletcher holds the record for most all-time starters in the Derby with 54. Since saddling his first in 2000, Pletcher has won the prestigious race twice, first with Super Saver in 2010 and most recently with Always Dreaming in 2017. He has finished second twice and third on four occasions, and his total number of starts is five more than the next-closest competitor in Hall of Famer and Pletcher mentor D. Wayne Lukas [49 starters].
Despite his history in the Derby, Pletcher is in the same situation as his fellow conditioners, as the Derby will be held as the middle jewel of the Triple Crown instead of the opener to accommodate the revised schedule for 3-year-olds in training that saw the Belmont Stakes serve as the first leg of the American Classic series for the first time ever two months ago.
"This time of year, you're usually focused on the Travers that would be coming up in a week or so," Pletcher said. "It's been an unusual year all the way around. The training itself is the same, but when we'd normally have the sales, a lot of the visitors we'd normally have has decreased."
Before shifting his focus to Kentucky, Pletcher has a lot on the Saratoga docket, with Moretti eying a possible start in the Grade 1, $500,000 Woodward on September 5. Owned by Repole Stable and Eclipse Thoroughbreds, Moretti has improved as a 4-year-old, finishing first or second in all five starts.
The Medaglia d'Oro colt has thrived at longer distances, winning his return to stakes company with a 5 ¼-length score in the 1 3/8-mile Flat Out over a sloppy and sealed Belmont track on June 11 that netted a career-best 96 Beyer Speed Figure. On faster surfaces, Moretti continued to do well, running second to Tacitus in the Grade 2 Suburban at the Woodward's 1 ¼-mile distance on July 4 before besting stablemate You're to Blame in the marathon 1 ¾-mile Birdstone on August 2 at Saratoga.
Moretti is 3-1-1 in six starts going at least 1 1/8 miles.
"I was happy with the way he came out of it. He came out of the race well and we're keeping an eye on the Woodward at the moment," Pletcher said. "He likes the track and it's a mile and a quarter. That's probably the closest we'll get to a marathon-type race with a Grade 1 attached to it. So, we have to consider it."
On Saturday, Spice Is Nice will return to stakes action against a high caliber field in the Grade 1, $500,000 Alabama for 3-year-old fillies in Race 9 at Saratoga. Owned by Robert and Lawana Low, Spice Is Nice came off a three-month layoff to best optional claimers by 2 ¾ lengths on July 3 at Belmont.
The Curlin filly will now face a steep jump in class in the "Win and You're In" qualifier for the Breeders' Cup Distaff in November at Keeneland. Spice Is Nice drew post 2 in the seven-horse field for the 1 ¼-mile Alabama and is the 3-1 second choice on the morning line behind even-money favorite Swiss Skydiver.
"We needed to get that race under her belt to get her ready for this," Pletcher said. "She's been training well since then. It's a very strong field - stronger than I anticipated - but I think the distance suits her, so we'll see if she can step up."
Pletcher will saddle two in Saturday's other Saratoga stakes, with Colonel Liam and No Word in the $500,000 Saratoga Derby Invitational going 1 3/16 miles on the Mellon turf in the opener of the New York Racing Association's Turf Triple series for 3-year-olds.
No Word, owned by Wertheimer and Frere, is a last-out winner against optional claimers who will be making his second career stakes start and first since running fifth in the Grade 3 Pilgrim to cap his juvenile year in September at Belmont.
No Word, 2-0-2 in five career starts, drew post 3 in the eight-horse field and is listed at 15-1 on the morning line. He returns to Saratoga for the first time since winning his debut last August going 1 1/16 miles.
"He's a consistent horse who has performed well for us all the time," Pletcher said. "He broke his maiden here, so hopefully that means he likes the turf course here. I think he's coming up to it in good order."
His stablemate, Colonel Liam, drew post 6 and is listed at 7-2. Also owned by Robert and Lawana Low, the son of Liam's Map won his first race on turf last month at the Spa and will now take a big step up in class following his 100 Beyer against older allowance company at 1 1/16 miles going against six other competitors on July 22. He was purchased as a 2-year-old for $1.2 million at the 2019 Ocala Breeders' Sale.
Social Paranoia could be returning to the work tab in the next few weeks at Saratoga, Pletcher said. Owned by The Elkstone Group, the 4-year-old son of Street Boss has not breezed since winning the Grade 3 Poker on July 4 at Belmont.
Social Paranoia tied a personal best with a 100 Beyer for his win in the eight-horse Poker field, rallying from seventh to beat Seismic Wave by one length in the one-mile route. He started his 2020 campaign with a win in the Grade 3 Appleton in March at Gulfstream and is 4-4-5 in 15 career starts, nearing millionaire status with $929,710 in earnings.
"He's due back in training probably at the end of the month," Pletcher said.
Kentucky Derby (G1) hopeful Ny Traffic, G1 winner Math Wizard breeze
Trainer Saffie Joseph, Jr. worked two of his stable stars, Math Wizard and Ny Traffic in company over a fast Saratoga Race Course main track on Thursday morning with both horses covering five furlongs in 1:00.38, which were the fastest of eight recorded works at the distance.
Owned by John Fanelli, Cash is King Racing, LC Racing and Paul Braverman and bred in the Empire State by Brian Culnan, Ny Traffic has not finished off the board in five starts this year, which began with an allowance optional claiming victory at Gulfstream Park, where Joseph is primarily based. He then followed up with a third-place finish in the Grade 2 Risen Star on February 15 at Fair Grounds before returning to the New Orleans oval for a runner-up finish to Wells Bayou in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby. His last two starts also were second-place effort, starting with the Grade 3 Matt Winn at Churchill Downs and continuing in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park.
Ny Traffic is pointing towards the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby on September 5 at Churchill Downs. The son of Cross Traffic will give Joseph his first starter in the "Run for the Roses" and is fifth on the leaderboard with 110 qualifying points.
"Math Wizard is a good work horse and with Ny Traffic, we wanted something not speedy but more for endurance. It was a steady work, but next week will probably be his stiffest work," Joseph said.
Ny Traffic joined Joseph's barn after making his first four starts for former trainer Harold Wyner.
"From the first time we got him, he just improved steadily," Joseph said of Ny Traffic, who has raced over six tracks in nine starts. "He's shipped all over and each time, he's shown up. That's a quality of a really good horse, he doesn't need to take his track with him. Obviously, he's been over Churchill's track already so that makes us feel comfortable."
Despite the presence of New York-bred Tiz the Law, the dominant frontrunner of the 3-year-old division who won last Saturday's Grade 1 Runhappy Travers, Joseph feels confident in Ny Traffic heading into the Kentucky Derby.
"I think he's gotten better and better," Joseph said. "Early in the year if you asked, I never thought he would be one of the leaders in the crop, but as time has gone on, I think we have a legit chance. Obviously, Tiz the Law ran impressively the other day, but I think we have a good chance."
Math Wizard will likely point to the Grade 2 Charles Town Classic on August 28, with the Grade 1, $500,000 Woodward at Saratoga as a "slight possibility."
"He's trained well over this track, but I would say the Charles Town Classic is the leader at the moment," Joseph said. "Since he's come here, he's trained really well. That was his second breeze here today and I thought he looked exceptional."
The winner of last year's Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby, Math Wizard was second to Global Campaign in the Grade 2 Monmouth Cup on July 18. The 4-year-old son of Algorithms is owned by John Fanelli in partnership with Khalid Mishref, Cash Is King Racing, LC Racing, Collarmele Vitelli Stables, Ioannis Zoumas and Bassett Stables.
Joseph also reported that Tonalist's Shape will train up to the Grade 1, $1 million Kentucky Oaks on September 4 at Churchill Downs, with the Grade 2 Eight Belles on the same day, remaining a possibility as well.
"She'll work Sunday and more than likely go straight to the Oaks, as a backup plan maybe the Eight Belles," Joseph said.
Joseph said he is relishing his first summer of having a string of horses in Saratoga.
"I love it. It's beautiful, the weather is amazing for horses. It's tranquil. We got our winner quickly off the bat so that helps. We hope to be up here every year continuously," Joseph said. "Thankfully, we have a lot of good owners and a great team of assistants, foremen, grooms, exercise riders, hotwalkers. They're highly instrumental to all of the success."
Canada's HOTY Starship Jubilee to return to the Spa for $500K Diana (G1)
Blue Heaven Farm's Starship Jubilee, Canada's reigning Horse of the Year and last-out winner of the Grade 2, $200,000 Ballston Spa, will return to Saratoga for the Grade 1, $500,000 Diana on August 23.
Trainer Kevin Attard said he had also considered Saturday's 10-furlong Grade 2 Dance Smartly at Woodbine Racetrack, but made the decision to return to the Spa for the nine-furlong Diana.
"The fact that we get an extra week and it's a mile and an eighth, which I think is her best distance, were strong incentives to head back out there," said Attard.
The 7-year-old Indy Wind mare posted a record of 7-3-3-1 last year with purse earnings of $604,929, topped by wins in the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor and Grade 2 Canadian at Woodbine.
Claimed for $16,000 in May 2017 at Gulfstream Park by Tino Attard, Kevin's father, the bay mare has since won 15 starts. She is a perfect 4-for-4 in 2020 and the veteran conditioner said Starship Jubilee's temperament is key to her continued success.
"She's just happy. I've found in the past that once she gets her confidence going she gets real tough," said Attard. "We've spaced out her races well enough and tried to pick out the best spots for her to have a successful run."
Starship Jubilee has posted graded wins at four different tracks and shown an ability to transfer her talent from Woodbine's expansive 1 ½-mile E.P. Taylor Turf Course to the tighter turns at Saratoga.
Attard attributed that success to one very simple fact.
"She's just a good horse," said Attard.
Attard said he will again ship Starship Jubilee to the care of Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey, who saddled the mare for her Ballston Spa score.
Last out, with Hall of Famer Javier Castellano up, Starship Jubilee prevailed by a neck over expected Diana rivals Call Me Love and 2018 Champion Turf Female Sistercharlie, despite hitting the gate at the break.
The probable Diana field is also likely to include multiple graded-stakes placed Feel Glorious, last-out Grade 2 New York victress Mean Mary and five-time Grade 1-winner Rushing Fall.
While Attard said he would prefer to be in Saratoga for the Diana, he would settle for a repeat of his Ballston Spa experience when cheering Starship Jubilee home from the Woodbine paddock.
"It's unfortunate I won't be able to come up, but I enjoyed watching the first one on TV and I'd be more than happy to root her home on TV again in a Grade 1 at Saratoga," said Attard.
Funny Guy continues training at Spa; Stan the Man eyes Tale of the Cat start
Funny Guy is 2-for-2 to start 2020 and trainer John Terranova said he will soon pick out a next spot to see if the 4-year-old son of Big Brown can extend that streak.
Owned by Gatsas Stables, R.A. Hill Stable and Swick Stable, Funny Guy returned off a nearly nine-month layoff to win the Commentator on June 12 at Belmont, earning a 101 Beyer for his 1 ¼-length in the one-turn mile. Bred in New York by Hibiscus Stables, Funny Guy responded with a two-length win in the John Morrisey on July 30 at Saratoga when cut back to seven furlongs, registering a 98 figure.
"We're really proud of him and happy to have him," said Terranova. "He's good and healthy and he's come out of the races really well. We're just kind of waiting and seeing. He's training well and had a nice breeze the other day. He looks great. We'll just sit and figure out the next couple of weeks where we are going to go with him."
A winner of five of 12 career starts, Funny Guy has won four stakes and has been at Saratoga since shipping from Belmont last month.
"He's done well everywhere but certainly, Saratoga has been fine for him," Terranova said. "We're looking forward to whatever is next. You never know which ones are going to progress as they get older. Some level off and some go backwards. But then you get some that mature and move forward and get stronger and better and stay healthy. A nice little break as they are growing up does them well, and he's certainly benefited from the time and the experience. He just continues to improve."
Long Lake Stable's Stan the Man is set to make his first start since running second in the Grade 2 True North on June 27 at Belmont, with Terranova saying he is targeting the $85,000 Tale of the Cat on August 20.
Making the first graded stakes appearance of his 6-year-old year, Stan the Man stayed in second position just off the speed before a strong charge resulted in a runner-up effort by 1 ½ lengths to Firenze Fire in the 6 ½-furlong True North over a fast Big Sandy.
The son of Broken Vow will now compete in the six-furlong Tale of the Cat for 4-year-olds and up who have not won a graded stakes.
"We didn't have too many options and we didn't want to jump in the deep end again with him," Terranova said. "We also wanted to give him a little bit of space between starts. He'll fit into the Tale of the Cat nicely because it's a restricted stake with how it's written. He looks good to go right now."
The veteran Stan the Man has a 23-6-7-2 ledger with earnings of $436,374 in a career that started in 2017.
Seasons likely to wait for Miss Grillo (G2)
Trainer Jimmy Toner reported that Seasons, a daughter of Tapit out of dual Grade 1-winner Winter Memories, will likely bypass the $100,000 P.G. Johnson on September 3, and train up to the Grade 2 Miss Grillo at Belmont Park following a victory on debut last Sunday at Saratoga.
"I just thought the P.G. Johnson was kind of close," Toner said. "We'll reevaluate everything and I just want to see when that is before I make any decisions."
Toner also conditioned Seasons' dam Winter Memories, who also won first out and took the 2011 edition of the Miss Grillo, as well as her grand dam Memories of Silver. Her full sister Winter Sunset was also a first-out winner.
Seasons is owned by Phillips Racing Partnership along with LNJ Foxwoods.
"He [John Phillips of Phillips Racing Partnership] has been partnering up with people as far as breeding and selling half of the fillies," Toner said. "It's worked out well for him and it's worked out for me as well."
Seasons was training forwardly heading into her debut, which gave Toner confidence to debut her at the Spa.
"She was the one that was able to do everything we asked her to do," Toner said.
Toner has been met with some success in training progeny of Tapit having conditioned Grade 1 winner Time and Motion as well as stakes-winner Bellavais.
"Don't try to manhandle them too much, just let them be happy and keep them happy," Toner said.
Saratoga Week 6 Stakes Probables
Wednesday, August 19
$85,000 Bolton Landing
Probable: Hara (Antonio Sano), Mischievous Dream (Christophe Clement), Sweet Souper Sweet (Michael Trombetta), Tobys Heart (Brian Lynch)
Possible: Quinoa Tifah (Juan Alvarado)
Thursday, August 20
$85,000 Tale of the Cat
Probable: Ready to Escape (Chris Englehart), Stan the Man (John Terranova)
Possible: Bon Raison (Jack Sisterson), Cerretalto (H. James Bond), Majestic Dunhill (George Weaver)
Saturday, August 22
Grade 1, $400,000 Fourstardave
Probable: Casa Creed (Bill Mott), Emmaus (Conor Murphy), Got Stormy (Mark Casse), Raging Bull (Chad Brown), Without Parole (Brown)
Possible: Chewing Gum (Mott)
Sunday, August 23
Grade 1, $500,000 Diana
Probable: Call Me Love (Christophe Clement),Feel Glorious (Clement), Mean Mary (Graham Motion), Rushing Fall (Chad Brown), Sistercharlie (Brown), Starship Jubilee (Kevin Attard)
NYRA teams with Monmouth, Woodbine for all-stakes Cross Country Pick 5
The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) will host an all-stakes Cross Country Pick 5 featuring action from historic Saratoga Race Course as well as Monmouth Park and Woodbine Racetrack in an hour span on Saturday.
Live coverage will be shown from 5-6 p.m. Eastern on NBC. Free Equibase past performances for the Cross Country Pick 5 sequence are now available for download athttps://www.nyra.com/saratoga/racing/cross-country-wagers.
Saratoga will kick off the sequence with the $500,000 Saratoga Derby Invitational for 3-year-old fillies in Race 8 at 5:07 p.m. Decorated Invader, who already has registered a graded stakes win over the Saratoga turf this meet, will put his undefeated sophomore record on the line as part of an eight-horse field. He is one of two entrants in the race for trainer Christophe Clement, who will also send out Gufo. Contested at 1 3/16 miles on the Mellon turf course, the Saratoga Derby will be the first leg of the 2020 Turf Triple series. Decorated Invader, who won the Grade 2 Hall of Fame on July 18, will rematch the second and third-place finishers in that contest, including runner-up Get Smokin for trainer Tom Bush, and third-place finisher Domestic Spending, trained by Chad Brown.
The 39th running of the $150,000 Pegasus for 3-year-olds going 1 1/16 miles will mark Monmouth's contribution to the Cross Country Pick 5 in Race 10 at 5:12 p.m.. An eight-horse field will see Pneumatic, the fourth-place finishers in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes on June 20, make his first start since the American Classic for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen. The rest of the field includes Skyscanner, Big City Bob, Wartime Hero, Super John, Arkaan, As Seen On TV and Jesus' Team.
Woodbine will host the first graded stakes competition with the Grade 2 $175,000 King Edward in Race 9 at 5:22 p.m. The one-mile turf route for 3-year-olds and up will see a pair of contenders go for Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse, with Dream Maker and March to the Arch leaving from the two inside posts. Dream Maker, the third-place finisher in the Grade 3 Pat Day Mile in May 2019, returned off a 14-month layoff on July 12 at Woodbine, running fourth against allowance company. March to the Arch, sixth last out in the Grade 2 Wise Dan on June 20 at Churchill, last earned blacktype in the Grade 3 Appleton, running third, in March at Gulfstream Park.
The featured race on Saratoga's 11-race card will comprise the sequence's penultimate race, as the 140th running of the Grade 1, $500,000 Alabama will showcase some of the country's top 3-year-old fillies. The 1 1/4-mile contest, slated for Race 9 at 5:43 p.m., is a "Win and You're In" qualifier for the Breeders' Cup Distaff in November at Keeneland and will see trainer Kenny McPeek send out two formidable contenders, including Swiss Skydiver, who has won three graded stakes over three different tracks, including the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks on March 28, the Grade 3 Fantasy on May 1 at Oaklawn Park and the Grade 2 Santa Anita Oaks on June 6. Swiss Skydiver, who earned Kentucky Derby qualifying points when she ran second against colts in the Grade 2 Blue Grass on July 11 at Keeneland, drew post 5 in the seven-horse field. McPeek will also send out Envoutante, who earned Grade 1 black type last out with a third-place finish to Speech in the Grade 1 Ashland on July 11 at Keeneland. She drew the inside post. The talented field includes Spice Is Nice, Crystal Ball, Bonny South, Harvey's Lil Goil and Fire Coral.
The Cross Country Pick 5 will close with the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks for 3-year-old fillies foaled in Canada going 1 1/8 miles in Race 10 at 5:57 p.m. A 10-horse field will see a few potential future Queen's Plate contenders, with the top-three finishers in the Fury on July 5 returning in Curlin's Voyage Justleaveitalone and Infinite Patience. Lasting Union, trained by Mike Matz, enters off consecutive maiden and allowance wins at Laurel and Delaware Park, respectively.
The minimum bet for the multi-track, multi-race wager is 50 cents. Wagering on the Cross Country Pick 5 is also available on ADW platforms and at simulcast facilities across the country. Every week will feature a mandatory payout of the net pool.
The Cross Country Pick 5 will continue each Saturday throughout the year. For more information, visit NYRABets.com.
Cross Country Pick 5 - Saturday, August 15:
Leg 1 - Saratoga, Race 8: Saratoga Derby Invitational (5:07 p.m.)
Leg 2 - Monmouth, Race 10: Pegasus (5:12 p.m.)
Leg 3 - Woodbine, Race 9: G2 King Edward (5:22 p.m.)
Leg 4 - Saratoga, Race 9: G1 Alabama (5:43 p.m.)
Leg 5 - Woodbine, Race 10: Woodbine Oaks (5:57 p.m.)