Monday, July 29, 2013


Saratoga Race Course Notes


• Pletcher confirms G1 Travers plans for Jim Dandy winner Palace Malice, breezes Cross Traffic & Dreaming of Julia, says Kauai Katie lost shoe in Prioress, departs for Haskell
• G1 Test 'the logical thing' for Prioress heroine Lighthouse Bay
• Laughing doing well following G1 Diana win
• Veterans Jerkens, Solis partner with G2 Honorable Miss long shot Classic Point
• Chilean G1 winner Quick Casablanca seeks first U.S. win in Wednesday's John's Call
• Stall looking at stakes with juvenile winners Twang and Best Case Scenario
• Albertrani puzzled by Freedom Child's dull Jim Dandy performance
• DiPrima to give optional claimer victor Plainview another stakes try


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Before heading to the airport, trainer Todd Pletcher was paid a brief visit by Cot Campbell, head of the Dogwood Stable syndicate that owns Palace Malice, who turned in a devastating performance Saturday in winning the Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy Stakes by a length over Will Take Charge. The winning time of 1:47.37 was the second-fastest Jim Dandy since the race was moved to 1 1/8 miles in 1972.

Palace Malice, who won the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes in his prior start, earned a 107 Beyer Speed Figure for the Jim Dandy, the second-fastest number on dirt for a 3-year-old this year, behind only Dreaming of Julia's 114 in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks.

"I figured it was going to be good, a very solid time," Pletcher said. "He picked it up every step along the way. I was encouraged [Hall of Fame jockey] Mike [Smith] said he felt like he had something left. You hate to say it was a bigger performance than winning the Belmont, but it certainly looked that way."

Campbell, who received a round of applause when introduced to the crowd at Sunday workouts, was delighted by the victory.

"He seems to have come out fine, very feisty, feeling good, looking for peppermints; that's always a good sign," he said. "So, we're very pleased, and we'll start easing into the next go-round."

That next go-round is expected to be the Grade 1, $1 million Travers, the 1 ¼-mile centerpiece of the Saratoga meet on August 24.

Palace Malice now will attempt to become the only horse besides 1969 Horse of the Year Arts and Letters to win the Belmont, Jim Dandy and Travers. He became the first horse to win the Belmont and Jim Dandy since Conquistador Cielo in 1982.

Pletcher re-routed plans to work Grade 1 Whitney Invitational Handicap-bound Cross Traffic and star 3-year-old filly Dreaming of Juliaon the main track Sunday, and, instead, breezed both of them in a light rain over the Oklahoma training track.

Cross Traffic, a 4-year-old Goldmark Farm-owned son of the late Unbridled's Song, went five furlongs in 1:02.90, the second-fastest of seven works at the distance. He finished second in his most recent outing, beaten a nose by Sahara Sky in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park in only his fourth career start.

Dreaming of Julia, a Stonestreet Stables-owned daughter of A.P. Indy, recorded her first work since finishing second to runaway winner Close Hatches in the Grade 1 Mother Goose on June 22 at Belmont Park. She breezed four furlongs in 51.02, 16th-fastest of 35 at the distance on the work tab.

The 3-year-old Dreaming of Julia won the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks this year and the Grade 1 Frizette last fall at Belmont Park.

"They decided to back-rake the main track, so I called an audible and worked over here," Pletcher said. "I thought [Cross Traffic] went well. It was a good work, and we got what we were looking for out of it."

As for Dreaming of Julia, Pletcher said he had no objective in mind for her.

"Just her first work back," he said. "We were looking for an easy half and she did well. We're not thinking of anything; just getting her back to work."

Pletcher said multiple graded stakes winner Kauai Katie, last of six as the heavy favorite in the Grade 1 Prioress for 3-year-old fillies on Saturday, lost her right front shoe in the race.

"That's the only thing we could come up with," he said of the performance.

* * *

Trainer George Weaver has his eyes on the Grade 1, $500,000 Test on August 24 for Lighthouse Bay, who on Saturday registered a 21-1 upset in the Grade 1 Prioress for 3-year-old fillies.

"She's tired. She ran hard, but she looks good," reported Weaver. "If she's doing well, we'll probably try the Test. It's a marquee race up here, and it seems like the logical thing to do with her."

Lighthouse Bay, a Richlyn Farm homebred, has now won three stakes at six furlongs, having already taken the Smart Halo last November at Laurel Park and the Miss Preakness at Pimlico in May in her final start before the Prioress. She'll be stretching out from six furlongs to seven in the Test.

The Prioress was Weaver's first Grade 1 victory in North America. In 2005, he won the Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen with Saratoga County.

"We got a lot of texts from a lot of people," said Weaver. "It's a good feeling knowing that you have a following. There are a lot of people who are happy we won."

The Prioress also marked the second Grade 1 win and first at Saratoga for jockey Joe Rocco, Jr., who won his first Grade 1 in May when he guided Tiz Miz Sue in the Ogden Phipps Handicap. Rocco won the Evan Shipman for New York-breds aboard Bigger Is Bettor earlier in the Saratoga meet.

"I have a lot of confidence in [Rocco], and I thought he rode a smart race [in the Prioress]," said Weaver. "He sat behind those front three, saved ground on the turn, it opened up, and he went through."

* * *

Trainer Alan Goldberg said via telephone that Laughing was back at Colts Neck Stable in New Jersey and doing well the morning after her win in the Grade 1 Diana on Saturday.

Goldberg added that Laughing will remain at Colts Neck as she trains up to a possible start in the Grade 2, $250,000 Ketel One Ballston Spa on August 24 at Saratoga or the Grade 1, $600,000 Flower Bowl Invitational on September 28 at Belmont Park.

The Diana was the first Grade 1 win for Laughing, who is owned by Richard Santulli.

* * *

Classic Point might be taking a large step up in class on Monday in the Grade 2 Honorable Miss Handicap, but the 4-year-old is certainly in capable hands.

Trained by 84-year-old Hall of Famer H. Allen Jerkens, Classic Point will be ridden in the Honorable Miss by 49-year-old Alex Solis. Classic Point, 10-1 on the morning line, is unbeaten in two starts with Solis aboard.

A Joseph V. Shields, Jr. homebred, Classic Point won a starter allowance/optional claimer by 1 ¾ lengths on June 14 and added a 9 ¼-length triumph in an entry-level allowance/optional claimer on June 30. Both wins came at Belmont Park over the Honorable Miss six-furlong distance.

"[Alex Solis] has ridden her better than anyone so far," said Jerkens. "She doesn't want you to take a hold of her, and she doesn't like you to whip her. It's ticklish to ride her. [Solis] has been riding for 30 years, so I guess he has ridden one like her before. We're taking our shot and hoping for the best."

Nine months ago, Classic Point broke her maiden for a $16,000 claiming tag in a six-furlong race Belmont. She later captured a conditioned claimer going one mile in February at Gulfstream Park, but Jerkens said the chestnut daughter of Flatter has found her niche in sprints.

"We had to run her for $16,000 before she won," said Jerkens. "We're lucky we didn't lose her with the way she turned out afterward. Then everybody said, 'If you run her a distance, she'll run good.' She won, and everybody said, 'See?' And then the last two races she won were six furlongs."

Jerkens, who has posted numerous memorable upsets over the decades, said Classic Point has improved in recent months but doesn't know whether it will be enough for her to win the Honorable Miss.

"We're taking a chance," said Jerkens. "There aren't many allowance races for her, anyway. We'll see what happens. She'll have to run bigger, that's for sure. She's become bigger and stronger since she got older. She likes it when you give her little, sharp workouts. You try to keep her fit and sharp. Those are things that don't always work out, but we'll see tomorrow."

* * *

A Group 1 winner in South America, Quick Casablanca seeks his first American victory in Wednesday's $100,000 John's Call at 1 5/8 miles on the turf, his third stateside start. Most recently second in the Grade 2 Brooklyn Handicap on June 7, the 5-year-old Chilean-bred drew the rail for the John's Call, in which he is the 7-2 second choice. Trainer Christophe Clement has named Joel Rosario to ride.

Favored at 5-2 in the John's Call is the Chad Brown-trained Hyper, owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey. The 6-year-old son of Victory Gallop has been no worse than third in six starts this year in the United States, with his lone victory coming in an optional claimer in March at Gulfstream Park. Javier Castellano will ride from post position 2.

Also expected to attract support are Darley Stable's Side Road, second in the Grade 2 Elkhorn in April at Keeneland, and defending John's Call champion Harrods Creek. Most recently, the Kiaran McLaughlin-trained Side Road was seventh in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Manhattan. At 4-1 on the morning line, he will leave from post position 3. Harrods Creek, trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, is winless in two starts this year and is 6-1 from post position 10.

Rounding out the field, from post position 4 out, are Star Channel, Alburj, Sandyinthesun, Royal Bench, and Dannhauser. Percussion was entered main track only.

* * *

Twang and Base Case Scenario, impressive maiden winners on Saturday for trainer Al Stall, are both being pointed to Saratoga stakes for their next start.

Not long after Twang's front-running 3 ¼-length victory at six furlongs, Stall nominated the Dixie Union colt to the Grade 2, $200,000 Saratoga Special at 6 ½ furlongs on August 11.

The Grade 1, $300,000 Hopeful at seven furlongs on September 2 also is on the radar for Twang, a gray homebred for Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider.

"[The Special] is short rest, but we'll look at it," Stall said. "Obviously, we'll look at the Hopeful. We're not sure. We'll have to try him in a stakes sooner or later."

Ridden by Joel Rosario, Twang led through fractions of 22.84, 46.09 and 58.17 seconds as the 6-5 favorite, sprinting clear in the stretch to hit the wire in 1:10.87. It was the second career start for Twang, who was third in his debut at Churchill Downs on June 21.

"Joel asked me how fast he was out of the gate," Stall said. "I told him he's got gears leaving there, and I saw him warming him up pretty good. From there on out he just took what they gave him. He's smart enough not to have to be on the lead ... and be able to come off of it when he has to.

"We like him. He showed us a lot early this summer. He wasn't quite ready to run at the Churchill meet, but we thought he'd be good enough to go over there and get some experience. We thought he had a chance to win, but he just wasn't that seasoned. He put in a good effort and was third, and it really set him up for the Saratoga race."

Stall plans to bring Base Case Scenario back in the Grade 2, $100,000 With Anticipation going 1 1/16 miles on the grass on August 29.

Owned by Klaravich Stable and William Lawrence, Base Case Scenario sat off the lead and swept to the front rounding the final turn, taking a clear lead in mid-stretch and holding off Stroll to Victory to win by a neck in 1:44.04 for 1 1/16 miles on the Mellon Turf Course.

"He should have gotten a lot out of that race," Stall said. "You never know, he could have run a good race and been third, beaten two lengths. [Jockey] Robby [Albarado] said he had a really nice turn of foot going around that turn."

A dark bay or brown son of Pioneerof the Nile out of the Kingmambo mare Mamboalot, Base Case Scenario made his debut the dirt at Churchill on June 30, finishing third.

"We've liked him. He's a big, strong, nice horse," Stall said. "He's been doing everything right; he was just crying out for more ground. You don't get a chance to run around two turns as a maiden here until later in the meet, and he had some turf breeding on both sides. It was a nice effort by him."

* * *

Trainer Tom Albertrani remains mystified by the second straight dull performance of Freedom Child, who ran last of 10 in Saturday's Jim Dandy.
"It's one of those things you can't figure out," Albertrani said Sunday morning. "[Jockey Luis Saez] said he was traveling great until about the time he needed him to go, and he just never responded."
Impressive front-running winner of the Grade 2 Peter Pan at Belmont Park on May 11, Freedom Child was 13th of 14 in the Belmont Stakes. In the Jim Dandy, he ran third behind Moreno and Palace Malice for six furlongs before dropping back, beaten 32 ½ lengths.
"I know for a fact that he doesn't like it hot too much. He never trained well in the heat, so I don't know if that was a factor or not," Albertrani said. "We'll just regroup, breeze him a couple of times and see. Nothing really surfaced, so we don't know. It's almost like you'd rather find a little explanation so you can fix it.
"The way he was acting in the paddock ... it looked like he was really on his toes. We'll just have to start all over again. It's all we can do."

* * *

Rebounding from a sixth-place finish in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap on June 8 at Belmont Park, the front-running 5-year-old Street Cry gelding Plainviewscored a sharp optional claiming victory Saturday at the Spa.

Leading all the way under jockey Jose Lezcano, Plainview ran 1 1/16 miles on the grass in 1:40.31 to beat Film Shot by 1 ½ lengths.

A $25,000 claim in May 2012 by trainer Gregory DiPrima for owners Michael Imperio and Jesse Iglesias, Plainview is now 2-for-2 over the Saratoga grass.

Imperio, visiting the barn Sunday morning, said another stakes try was likely next for Plainview.

"We're going to try again," said the son of former New York-based trainer Dominick Imperio. "We're going to look at the end of the meet. He's good at five weeks off or more.

"I think yesterday was the best race he ever ran. Usually he opens up by five [lengths] and holds on. Yesterday, he sat two in front and re-broke at the sixteenth pole and took off again. It was the first time he ever did that. Jose said he was relaxed the whole way."



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