A pair of three-year-olds will be trying to advance to the Classic at tracks 1,500 miles away from each other. Both Any Given Saturday, in the Grade 2 Brooklyn Handicap at Belmont Park, and Grasshopper, entered in the Grade 2 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs, will be odds-on to win their preps.
Each will be a very tough out.
Todd Pletcher announced a month ago that he would run in the Brooklyn, and both the size of the field and level of competition are testimony to the level of respect his rivals have for Any Given Saturday.
And the state of the older horse division is apparently so sorry these days that only two of “Saturday’s” four rivals are older horses. Of them, the Pletcher colt has his fellow three-year-olds to beat.
As we wrote in our analysis, Any Given Saturday is sharp, fresh and simply too fast for this group. His tactical speed will allow Garrett Gomez to place him wherever he wishes. He’ll be ready when Sightseeing comes alive at headstretch.
Grasshopper has come a very long way this summer, which is both the good and bad news. He has raised his game considerably, so high, in fact that, on performance figures, none of his nine rivals are within six lengths if all nine rivals run their ‘A’ race.
It’s unlikely that Grasshopper can duplicate his excellent placing in Street Sense’s Travers. The dynamics here; from field size, to distance, to surface, to post position, are altogether different. But at this level, class tells. Grasshopper’s ‘B’ race likely will be good enough.
But that’s not the purpose of this drill. The purpose is to take another step forward, gain more experience, more seasoning, and get to the Jersey Shore with gas left in the equine tank.
If he gets beat, you could bet that trainer Neil Howard will be past the point of going ballistic.
You can’t say you haven’t been warned.