Friday, August 10, 2012

SARATOGA RACE COURSE NOTES: Thursday, August 9, 2012

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin adjusted Alpha’s training schedule to have the Grade 2 Jim Dandy winner breeze four furlongs on the main track on Thursday.

In his first workout since the Jim Dandy on July 28, Alpha was clocked in 48.33 seconds. The Godolphin Racing representative is targeting the Grade 1, $1 million Travers on August 25.

“He worked great, and we moved it up because of the weather,” said McLaughlin. “It looks like rain is coming for the next couple of days and we didn’t want to risk it. Next week we’ll have a window of about four days. He’ll work next Thursday, Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, depending on weather.”

Godolphin’s horses have the option of exercising over the Tapeta surface at the Greentree Training Center, but McLaughlin said he’ll train Alpha exclusively on dirt.

“Back there It’s Tricky and Questing can work, but we don’t want to work him,” said McLaughlin. “He’s done real well on the dirt, the shoes, there are a lot of little things.”

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Champion My Miss Aurelia exited her comeback win in yesterday’s Mandys Gold overnight stakes in good shape, trainer Steve Asmussen said outside his barn Thursday morning.

“She came out of the race great and we’re very happy with the way she ran,” said Asmussen.

In the 6 ½-furlong Mandys Gold, My Miss Aurelia overcame an awkward start to prevail by three lengths in what was her first start since her victory in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies last November. With races like the Grade 1, $500,000 Test on August 25 on the horizon, co-owner Barbara Banke of Stonestreet Stables yesterday said she hopes the 3-year-old could make another start at Saratoga Race Course prior to the end of the meet.

“We’ll see how she comes out the race and have her tell us where we’ll go,” said Asmussen. “With a filly like that, you have a lot of options. We’ll talk with the owners and come up with a plan.”

* * *

With his intimidating speed, the 4-year-old ridgling Turbo Compressor has developed this year into one of the dominant turf runners in the country. Fresh off a gate-to-wire victory in the Grade 1 United Nations last month at Monmouth Park, Turbo Compressor will attempt to race farther than he ever has before on August 18 when he goes 1 ½ miles in the Grade 1, $600,000 Sword Dancer Invitational.

Trained by Todd Pletcher for P and G Stable and Off the Hook LLC, the Florida-bred Turbo Compressor sold for a modest $22,000 at the 2010 Ocala Breeders' Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training. He has since won $920,960 and has been at his most formidable on the front end, winning the $500,000 Colonial Turf Cup at Colonial Downs prior to the United Nations.

After Turbo Compressor tired to third behind graded stakes winners Mucho Macho Man and Ron the Greek in the Sunshine Millions Classic in January at Gulfstream Park, Pletcher gave him a shot on turf and he has since won three of four starts. His only loss came when he was taken off the pace in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic on Kentucky Derby Day at Churchill Downs.

Up until now, the 1 3/8-mile United Nations is the farthest Turbo Compressor has been asked to run, and he won by 1 ¾ lengths, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 101. His sire, Halo’s Image, is not noted for grass progeny. His broodmare sire, Wild Event, however, is.

Pletcher sees the stretch-out in the Sword Dancer within reach.

“It simply depends on pace scenario, but he continues to handle the increases in distance we’ve been offering, and he appreciates being on the lead. It’s not only his ability to show speed, but he relaxes once he’s there.”

In addition to Turbo Compressor in the Sword Dancer, Pletcher also plans to send out In Lingerie in the Grade 1, $600,000 Alabama, as well as Pocket Cowboys in the $150,000 West Point, presented by Trustco Bank on August 16, and Medolina and Disposablepleasure in the Grade 2, $200,000 Woodford Reserve Lake Placid on August 19.

“In Lingerie has trained well since her last race,” said Pletcher of the Empire Maker filly, who was third as the betting favorite to Questing in the Grade 1 TVG Coaching Club American Oaks on July 21. “We believe the 1 1/4 miles will suit us well.”

In Lingerie, owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, won the Grade 3 Bourbonette Oaks at Turfway Park in March and the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico on May 18 prior to the Coaching Club. She will have her final serious breeze for the Alabama on Sunday, said Pletcher.

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The top competitors in the 3-year-old filly division are expected to meet at Saratoga next Saturday in the Grade 1, $600,000 Alabama Stakes. Kentucky Oaks heroine Believe You Can is one of four Grade 1 winners probable for the 1 ¼-mile race, along with Questing (TVG Coaching Club American Oaks) Zo Impressive (Mother Goose) and Grace Hall (2011 Spinaway). In addition to In Lingerie, graded winners Uptown Bertie, and Via Villaggio also are likely, according to NYRA Stakes coordinator Andrew Byrnes, along with Sea Island, who successfully stretched out to 1 1/8 miles to take an optional claimer at the Spa on July 26.

* * *

The August 18 card also will include the Grade 1, $600,000 Sword Dancer Invitational, in which Point of Entry is expected to put his three-race win streak on the line against Turbo Compressor. Point of Entry, a Phipps Stable homebred, will enter the Sword Dancer off a 3 ½-length win in the Grade 1 Man o’ War on July 14 at Belmont Park. Also expected for the 1 ½-mile Sword Dancer are Brilliant Speed and Tahoe Lake, with Ioya Bigtime questionable.

Sophomore fillies will take to the turf for the Grade 2, $200,000 Woodford Reserve Lake Placid at 1 1/8 miles on August 19. In addition to Disposablepleasure, the race is expected to attract Centre Court and Better Lucky, the top two finishers in the Grade 2 Lake George on July 25. Also probable are Colonial Flag, Medolina, Somali Lemonade, and Stephanie’s Kitten.

* * *

On schedule to defend his title in next Thursday’s $150,000 West Point, presented by Trustco Bank, is the Bruce Brown-trained Compliance Officer. Claimed for $25,000 last May, the Officer colt went on to win five straight on the turf for his new connections, with last year’s West Point the first of three straight stakes victories. Most recently, Compliance Officer was second in the Grade 3 Poker behind Clear Attempt. Also targeting the 1 1/16-mile West Point are recent allowance winner Majestic Raffy, 2011’s Grade 3 Poker winner Street Game, Karakorum Legend, Lubash, Minnie Punt, and Pocket Cowboys.

* * *

Two of the top New York-bred turf fillies could tangle again in next Friday’s $150,000 Yaddo, with Irish Linnet stakes winner Hessonite and last year’s heroine, Gitchee Goomie, both targeting the 1 1/16-mile race.

Hessonite, a 4-year-old daughter of Freud, was beaten a half-length by Gitchee Goomie in the Grade 3 Dr. James Penny Memorial at Parx Racing and the Mount Vernon at Belmont Park prior to the July 27 Irish Linnet, in which she swept four-wide en route to a sparkling 4 ½-length victory.

“She was the prohibitive favorite, deserved to be, and she ran like one,” said Hessonite’s trainer, David Donk. “I think she’s a filly with a big turn of foot. She was a little unfortunate to run into a good mare in Gitchee Goomie in a couple of starts without the greatest racing luck. Two good fillies.”

Trained by Rick Violette, the 5-year-old Gitchee Goomie has made four starts this year, finishing second in an optional claimer to Pinch Pie at Gulfstream Park on March 30 and second, beaten 2 ¼ lengths, by Winter Memories in the Grade 3 Beaugay on May 5 at Belmont Park.

Others under consideration for the Yaddo are Inimitable Romanee and Considerate, the second- and third-place finishers from the Irish Linnet.

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Mabou, a 16-1 upset winner of last year’s Grade 1 New York Turf Writers, is 50-50 to defend his title in next Thursday’s steeplechase, said trainer David Jacobson. The 9-year-old gelding, who was in contention until the final hurdle of an optional claimer last Thursday, emerged from that race with a minor ankle injury.

“His ankle got banged up during the race,” said Jacobson of Mabou, whose victory last year was the trainer’s first Grade 1 win. “We’re working on it. We have to wait and see, but he’s not going to run unless he’s 100 percent.”

Mabou was claimed by Jacobson for Drawing Away Stables for $30,000 out of an optional claimer in which he finished fifth as the favorite.

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