Tuesday, August 07, 2012

SARATOGA RACE COURSE NOTES: Monday, August 6, 2012

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Poseidon’s Warrior, upset winner of Sunday’s Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap, emerged from the race in fine fettle and eagerly accepted congratulations and treats from visitors Monday morning.

“It was wonderful,” Virginia Reid, wife of trainer Robert “Butch” Reid, said of the victory. “So many people have stopped by to congratulate us. Yesterday when we got back to the barn [shared with trainer Tony Dutrow], Kim Dutrow had traced ‘Yes!’ in the dirt outside his stall. It was so sweet.”

Yesterday’s neck victory did not appear to take much out of Poseidon’s Warrior, who bounced around his stall and enthusiastically gobbled Mrs. Pastures Cookies for Horses.

“He ate everything up last night, and he was even tough to walk,” Reid said. “This morning he went to graze, and I couldn’t get him back inside.”

For now, Poseidon’s Warrior will stay in Saratoga as his connections ponder their next move. One possibility is the Grade 1, $500,000 Forego, run at seven furlongs on September 1.

“He might go in the Forego,” Reid said of the Swilcan Stable representative. “We’re a little hesitant because he likes three-quarters [of a mile].”

In two previous attempts at seven furlongs, Poseidon’s Warrior finished sixth (the Grade 1 Foxwoods King’s Bishop last August) and fourth (the Philmont Stakes at Parx Racing last April). Six of the Speightstown colt’s seven wins have come at six furlongs.

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Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks winner Believe You Can had her first breeze at Saratoga this morning over the Oklahoma training track in preparation for the Grade 1 Alabama on August 18. With jockey Rosie Napravnik on board, the Proud Citizen filly went out shortly after the first renovation break and worked five furlongs in 1:02.10, the fifth-fastest of 13 at the distance.

“Everything was good; she’s done everything real good,” said trainer Larry Jones, who was on hand for the move. “The Alabama has been our goal; now we just have to get it all to come together.”

Bred and owned by Brereton C. Jones, Believe You Can has won six of her 10 starts, including the Grade 3 Tempted at Belmont Park last year and the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks this year prior to the Kentucky Oaks. In her most recent start, she was third behind Zo Impressive in the Grade 1 Mother Goose at Belmont.

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Including Monday’s first race, nine of trainer Todd Pletcher’s meet-leading 16 winners were 2-year-olds. On Sunday, he will try for his first juvenile stakes win of the meet when he sends out Kauai Katie in the Grade 2, $200,000 Adirondack and Shanghai Bobby and Drumroll in the Grade 2, $200,000 Saratoga Special.

The trio tuned up for their upcoming engagements this morning on the Oklahoma training track, with Kauai Katie breezing five furlongs in 1:02.57 and Shanghai Bobby and Drumroll working in 1:02.46 in company.

“If everything goes according to plan, they will go on Sunday,” said Pletcher.

Kauai Kate will be making her second appearance at the Spa in the 6 ½-furlong Adirondack, having given Pletcher his first winner of the meet with an eye-popping 12-length score on opening day. Owned by Stonestreet Stables, the bay daughter of Malibu Moon earned a 100 Beyer Speed Figure for the effort, tops among all 2-year-olds this year.

“She bounced out of her first race very well, and seems to be thriving at the moment,” said Pletcher. “She’s a filly her connections feel is precocious.”

Shanghai Bobby, owned by Starlight Racing, is 2-for-2 including the Track Barron overnight stakes at Belmont Park on June 27, while Drumroll was a 2 ¾-length winner at Monmouth Park on July 8 for owners Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor, and Derrick Smith.

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The name Englehart is most strongly associated with Finger Lakes Racetrack in Farmington, N.Y., but in recent years trainer Jeremiah Englehart and his father, Chris, have experienced increased success competing on The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) circuit.

On Wednesday, Jeremiah, who through Sunday had won 414 races since taking out his trainer’s license in 2003, has a strong chance to win his first race at Saratoga Race Course when he sends out King Kreesa, the 8-5 morning-line favorite in the $100,000 Cab Calloway division of the New York Stallion Series.

The Cab Calloway, a one-mile turf race for 3-year-olds, was carded as the fifth race and has a scheduled post time of 3:13 p.m.

Jeremiah Englehart is currently third in the Finger Lakes trainer standings with 40 wins, trailing only his father (70 wins) and James Acquilano (49). For the first time in his career, he is competing year-round at NYRA’s tracks and has won 13 races at Aqueduct Racetrack and Belmont Park in 2012. His father, who has won 3,230 in his career, is the eighth-leading NYRA trainer in 2012 with 36 wins.

With Finger Lakes lacking a turf course, Jeremiah Englehart’s full-time presence on the NYRA circuit has helped him develop King Kreesa into a two-time stakes winner on the turf. After finishing fifth in his debut, a $35,000 maiden claiming race on Aqueduct’s inner track in March, King Kreesa has posted of a record of 3-1-0 in four starts on grass, including stakes wins in his two most recent starts.

“He was working well on dirt at Finger Lakes, but he seemed to regress when I took him to Aqueduct this winter,” said Englehart. “I wasn’t sure if he wasn’t as good as I hoped he’d be or if he just wasn’t handling the dirt. We ran him for $25,000 on grass and he won, and now he has won three of four on the grass.”

After airing by five lengths going seven furlongs in the NYSS Spectacular Bid on June 3, King Kreesa returned to beat open company by three lengths in the 1 1/8-mile London Company overnight stakes on June 29. Both wins came in front-running fashion at Belmont.

“His last race was most impressive from a competitive standpoint,” said Englehart. “It was open company 3-year-olds and Christophe Clement and Todd Pletcher had horses in there, and what they have at Belmont is the cream of the crop. [Jockey] Irad [Ortiz] did a really good job getting him to settle. He withstood three challenges before he drew off.”

Englehart said he has been training King Kreesa to rate behind horses, which could allow the Gerald and Susan Kresa color-bearer to use new tactics in Wednesday’s race.

“I think there’s some other speed in the race, so he might end up settling behind horses,” said Englehart. “In his breezes, he has been behind horses before coming from behind. I’ll be fine whether he’s on the lead or behind the leaders.”

Englehart said he is pleased with how his NYRA string has performed so far, despite the extra expenses and work that goes into maintaining separate sets of horses.

“I have a great group of clients who are interested in NYRA racing and who have been trying to get me better horses,” said Englehart. “I felt like I had to be there year-round to take advantage of the purses. So far, it’s gone pretty well. Having another operation is costly, but if we’re winning, then everything seems to be going OK.”

Ortiz, fresh off having won his second career Grade 1 in Sunday’s Alfred G. Vanderbilt aboard Poseidon’s Warrior, will ride King Kreesa on Wednesday.

The Cab Calloway field also includes Sleepy Freud (10-1), Sportswriter (3-1), Image of Disco (10-1), Goodtime Boy (6-1), Mr Algebra (30-1), Western Tryst (5-1), and The Snickers Kid (12-1).

On Thursday, I Bet Toni Knows is the 2-1 favorite over nine 3-year-old fillies in the $100,000 Statue of Liberty division of the NYSS. Trained by Eric Reed, the Sunriver filly enters the one-mile turf race off a late-running victory in the NYSS Cupecoy’s Joy on June 3 at Belmont Park, her first stakes win.

Junior Alvarado will ride from post position 10.

Also entered are Manero, Mah Jong Madness, Why Take a Chance, Take It Inside and Barrel of Joy, the third- through seventh-place finishers in the Cupejoy’s Joy. Rounding out the field are Sara T., My Jopia, Hlao Roo and Read the Research, with Stock Fund also eligible.

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Jockey Charles “Chuck” Lopez is no stranger to the NYRA circuit, with 793 of his 4,071 of his career victories having come at Aqueduct Racetrack. He has never won a race at Saratoga Race Course, but that could soon change as he is scheduled to ride three horses on Wednesday at the Spa.

Lopez, who has also has 32 triumphs at Belmont Park in his career, will make the trek from his home in Morganville, N.J. to Saratoga Springs to ride Srumdiddlyumptious in Wednesday’s $100,000 Mandys Gold overnight stakes for 3-year-old fillies.

“I’m going to get in my convertible and drive like a winner, and hopefully I’ll ride like a winner,” said Lopez.

Srumdiddlyumptious enters the Mandys Gold off a pair of stakes wins at Monmouth Park and Penn National but faces a daunting opponent in My Miss Aurelia, last year’s champion juvenile filly who will make her 3-year-old debut in the 6 ½-furlong race.

For Lopez, a chance to upset the undefeated champion is extra incentive to win.

“Srumdiddlyumptious is at the top of her game,” said Lopez. “It’d be nice if we could beat the champion.”

Kelly Breen trains Srumdiddlyumptious for George and Lori Hall, who combined earlier in the meet to win the Grade 2 Sanford with Bern Identity. Srumdiddlyumptious drew post position 2 and was installed at 10-1 on the morning line.

Lopez, who rides at Monmouth Park in the summer, estimates that he has ridden in the vicinity of 15 to 25 races at Saratoga in his career. In the past 10 years, he has ridden in four races at the Spa, including two in 2011.

In addition to Srumdiddlyumptious, Lopez was named to ride Sweet Sway (12-1) in the first race, a maiden special weight for New York-breds, and has picked up a mount aboard one member of the Fantasy Lane Stables coupled entry (5-1) of Brooklyn Legend and Godric in the fourth race, a $25,000 maiden claiming race in Saratoga. Appropriately, Lopez grew up in Brooklyn.

“It would be great [to win a race at Saratoga],” said Lopez. “Everybody is watching the Saratoga races, and it’d be a great feather in my cap. To win a race at Saratoga, even just an allowance race, is a big deal.”

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