The Pilgrim and Miss Grillo were originally scheduled for Sunday, but with the chance for inclement weather that day officials for The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) decided to move the turf events to Monday. Both races are Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” events for their respective divisions.
Heading Brown’s assault in the Pilgrim is Noble Tune, a great grandson of Serena’s Song who rallied from sixth and drew off to a 3 ½-length victory in a 1 1/16-mile turf race on September 3 at Saratoga Race Course in his only start to date. Following the race, Martin Schwartz bought an interest in the Unbridled’s Song colt from breeder Dell Ridge Farm.
“I think he’s a graded stakes horse,” said Brown. “Will it be now that he’s a graded stakes horse or later on, down the road? That remains to be seen, but he’s shown me enough in the morning where he deserves a strong shot in this race.”
Noble Tune was made the 5-2 morning-line favorite for the Pilgrim and will leave from post position 7 with Ramon Dominguez aboard.
Brown’s other Pilgrim entrant, Mr. and Mrs. William K. Warren’s Saint Vigeur, is a maiden, having made an outside run to finish second by 1 ¼ lengths on August 25 at the Spa. The trainer also entered a pair of maidens, Atlantic Dream and Wave Theory, in the Miss Grillo.
“I decided to maybe enter some maidens now that they have moved the races to Monday and the weather doesn’t look good for the maiden races I was going to enter,” said Brown. “I think they’re all sitting on big, forward moves as maidens. I’d like to give them a shot.
“[The Pilgrim and Miss Grillo aren’t] walkovers; there are horses who have broken their maiden and have done it right and are going to move forward. I think it takes a very good horse to break their maiden in one of these stakes. They’re all lightly raced so there’s not a lot separating them, but you have to be sure they’re your very best [maidens] you’re betting in there, and I feel like we have a good handle on the turf horses in my barn. The maidens I’m entering were unlucky losers, and I’m just viewing them as if they had won their races like they should have. If they had won, this is where they’d be running, anyway.”
Javier Castellano has the assignment aboard Saint Vigeur, 8-1 on the morning line, from the rail.
West Hills Giant was entered in the Pilgrim after winning the New York Breeders’ Futurity, a six-furlong dirt race for New York-breds, last Saturday at Finger Lakes. Trainer John Terranova said he is taking it “day-by-day” with the colt as he ponders the possibility of running him back in eight days for the Pilgrim.
The Breeders’ Futurity was the first start on dirt for West Hills Giant, who began his career in a pair of 1 1/16-mile turf races at Saratoga, including a narrow maiden score against statebreds on September 3.
“He’s a big colt and we weren’t sure about the cutback, but we decided to take a shot [at the Breeders’ Futurity],” said Terranova, who conditions the son of Frost Giant for Robert Castelli, Andrew Cohen, and Gina Bentivegna. “He came out of it so well that we decided to enter him in the Pilgrim. It was something we talked about [before the Breeders’ Futurity], but [whether we’ll run him in the Pilgrim] all depends on the horse.”
Jose Espinoza has the return call aboard West Hills Giant, 12-1, from post 5.
Notacatbutallama, Special Skills, Read the Proposal, Quinzieme Monarque, and European import Cerro complete the Pilgrim field. Bernie the Jet and James Jingle were entered for the main track only.
In the Miss Grillo, stakes winner Watsdachances and second-time starters Atlantic Dream and Wave Theory will represent the Brown stable.
Watsdachances broke her maiden by six lengths in a five-furlong dash in April at Navan in Ireland before she was brought privately by Michael E. Kisber and Bradley Thoroughbreds. Subsequently sent to Brown, she quickly acclimated to her new surroundings and successfully stretched out to 1 1/16 miles to win the P.G. Johnson by a neck on August 29 at Saratoga.
“Taking European horses and transitioning them is one thing, and then you have them at 2 and trying to do that when they’re still inexperienced can be a little tricky, but this horse did everything right all summer at Saratoga,” said Brown. “I was surprised at how smooth the transition was for her. She basically acted like she had been here the whole time, which was a pleasant surprise. We were pretty confident when we ran her in the P.G. Johnson, and she came out of the race well.”
Watsdachances drew post 4 and was made the 5-2 morning-line favorite for the Miss Grillo. Javier Castellano will ride.
After being bumped hard at the start, Atlantic Dream recovered to finish fourth, beaten 3 ½ lengths, on August 12 at Saratoga. Dominguez will ride the Michael J. Ryan color-bearer from post 5 at 6-1 on the morning line.
Schwartz’s Wave Theory missed by a neck when second on August 25 at the Spa. Tabbed at 5-1 for the Miss Grillo, she’ll depart from post 7 with Jose Lezcano aboard.
The only stakes winner entered in the Miss Grillo in addition to Watsdachances is Effie Trinket, who switches over to turf and stretches out off a victory in Saratoga’s Aristie overnight stakes for New York-breds on August 27. The field also includes maiden winners Fearless Jacq, Buckingham Bull, Fly Again, Adriani, Summer of Fun, Sustained, and Three Hearts.