• West Hills Giant, Wellspring Legacy head Sunday’s NYSS
• Alpha training for start in G2 Suburban Handicap
• Fields coming together for holiday week stakes
“He may just go to the front [in the Shy Groom],” said Sciacca. “He should be dead fit. If somebody wants to go, he can lay right off of them, but he’ll probably just go. He’s fresh and is doing great.”
The Shy Groom, a seven-furlong race for New York-breds 3-years-old and up, will be Saratoga Snacks’ first start since winning the Alex M. Robb in December at Aqueduct Racetrack. He was given time off after the Robb to heal a bruised foot.
“I started getting him ready, but I just kicked him out and said, ‘Bill, he’s been real good to us. It’s the wintertime. I have to look at the long plans,’” Sciacca recalled. “Bill lives in Saratoga and wants to see him train and run in Saratoga. If I had run him all winter, you never know what would have happened. He looks fantastic.”
Sciacca said he plans to run Saratoga Snacks in the Shy Groom and then in an allowance at Saratoga Race Course. After that, the trainer hopes the 4-year-old ridgling can win stakes against open company.
“It’d be nice to win a Grade 1,” said Sciacca. “That would be on the agenda. I told Bill about that, and I have a private bet with him [about whether Saratoga Snacks can win a Grade 1].”
But first Saratoga Snacks must take on a Shy Groom field that includes stakes winners Mine Over Matter, Willy Beamin, Be Bullish, Fiddlers Afleet, and Sundae On Sunday. B Shanny and Dan’s Gold also were entered.
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Sandwiching the Shy Groom on Sunday’s card are two seven-furlong turf races for 3-year-olds eligible for the New York Stallion series – the $100,000 Spectacular Bid and the $100,000 Cupecoy’s Joy for fillies.
Heading the Spectacular Bid, which will be run as race 9, is Long Island Racing Stable’s West Hills Giant, the 5-2 morning-line favorite as he returns to the turf for the first time this year. Most recently fifth in the Mike Lee after stumbling badly at the start, West Hills Giant will run without blinkers as he leaves from post position 5 with Hall of Fame jockey Edgar Prado aboard.
Huge Asset, Orino, Sneaky Freud, Captain Gaughen, Belief System, Lightnin Stone, Sunbio and Call for the Clock were also entered, along with two coupled entries: Treblemaker and Madam I’m Adam and Meeker Avenue and Escapefromreality, with the latter running only if the race comes off the turf.
In the Cupecoy’s Joy, Wellspring Legacy is the 5-2 morning-line choice over 11 other fillies as she makes her first start for Winning Move Stable and David Jacobson. Sixth in her stakes debut, the Little Silver on May 27 at Monmouth Park, Wellspring Legacy was victorious in her two other grass starts this year in Florida.
David Cohen will ride from the rail.
Lining up alongside her will be Bit Bustin, Image of Noon, Ideal Place, Zekes Surprise, Stellerite, Fantastic Eyes, Frosty Bay, Adriatic Dream, Saropia, John’s Mariah, and Maxana.
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Godolphin Racing’s Alpha, who dead-heated for the victory in last year’s Grade 1 Travers, is set to make his next start in the Grade 2, $350,000 Suburban Handicap on July 6 at Belmont Park, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said on Friday.
The Suburban will be Alpha’s first start in North America in 2013. Alpha raced twice in Dubai earlier this year for trainer Saeed bin Suroor, finishing last of 12 in the Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge – Round 2 in February and fifth in the Group 2 Godolphin Mile in March.
Since returning to the United States, Alpha has been training in Saratoga Springs over the Oklahoma training track and the Greentree Training Center’s artificial surface.
“His last race was OK,” said McLaughlin. “Better. He looks great. He came back looking great. In the past we’ve had horses really mature from 3 to 4, whether we gave them time off or didn’t give them time off. He’s still maturing and looks great.”
McLaughlin added that Alpha will breeze on Saturday, be ridden by Irad Ortiz, Jr. in the Suburban, and aim for the Grade 1 Whitney Invitational Handicap on August 3 if he emerges from the Suburban in good form.
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Older turf horses look to celebrate Independence Day with a bang in Thursday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Poker. Likely for the one-mile race are Big Screen, who was disqualified to second in the Jaipur on June 7; Howe Great, most recently fourth in the Grade 2 Dixie on May 18 at Pimlico Race Course; Kingston winner King Kreesa; Mr. Commons, third in the Grade 1 Maker’s 46 Mile last time out; Street Game, fourth in the Kingston; Upgrade, third in the Grade 2 Connaught Cup on May 26 at Woodbine, and Za Approval, winner of three of four this year including the Grade 3 Red Bank at Monmouth Park and the Grade 3 Appleton at Gulfstream Park.
Three-year-olds looking to get a head start on the second half of the season will assemble Saturday in the Grade 2, $200,000 Dwyer at 1 1/16 miles. Likely are Battier, third in the Gygistar overnight stakes last time out; For Greater Glory, second in an optional claimer on June 2 at Churchill Downs; recent maiden winner Moreno; Grade 2 Peter Pan runner-up Saint Vigeur, and possibly Transparent, who beat older horses last time out at Aqueduct.
Also on Saturday’s card is the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap, in which Flat Out, whose four-race winning streak at Belmont Park ended with a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Met Mile, will seek to regain his winning touch at his home track. Also expected for the 1 1/8-mile race are last year’s Travers co-winner, Alpha; Easter Gift, who took the Mountainview Handicap on June 1 at Penn National; Grade 3 Pimlico Special victor Last Gunfighter, and Percussion, second in the Grade 2 Brooklyn Handicap last time out.