“At Saratoga, a lot of our success depends on our two-year-olds,” said Pletcher, who was 1-for-23 with first-time two-year-old starters last year. “And this year, we’re kind of in the same position we were last year. We’ve got 30 or so just getting close to ready to run.”
Thursday, Bullion Cache takes a big step up when he makes his Saratoga debut along with six others in the 94th edition of the Grade 2, $150,000 Sanford Stakes at six furlongs, the first of three graded stakes for two-year-old colts and geldings at the Spa. And Pletcher, who will be seeking his third straight victory in the prestigious race – he took the 2006 edition with Scat Daddy – is just as curious as anyone to see how he stacks up against his peers.
“When he came to us, we felt like he was one of the more precocious ones at Churchill Downs,” said the trainer. “It will be interesting to see how he fares at Saratoga.”
Attracting a great deal of interest is Darley Stables’ Desert Party, who fetched $2.1 million earlier this year at the Fasig-Tipton two-year-olds in training sale. In his first start, the son of Street Cry broke from post No. 10 at Arlington, making up a ton of ground in just four and one-half furlongs to post a nearly four-length victory on June 22.
“He’s doing very well and had an excellent work the other morning at Saratoga [matching Bustin Stones’ move of 1:00.17 on July 19],” said trainer Eoin Harty. “He looked impressive at Arlington but it’s a big step from Arlington to Saratoga and until he does it against quality horses, you can’t really judge.”
Already settled in at the Spa as well is Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s homebred Notonthesamepage, who was impressive as well in breaking his maiden at second asking, running a big number as he pulled away to win by three lengths going four furlongs.
“When we were breaking all my two-year-olds, he was the fastest,” said trainer Wesley Ward of Notonthesamepage, who has been training at Saratoga since early July. “From Day One, he was one of the top flight, but not yet at the top. But, he just keeps improving, from his first race to his second race, and since then, in the way he’s been training.”
Although Ward, by his own count, has won more than a dozen two-year-old races in 2008, he thinks Notonthesamepage could be something special.
“You get to the point with a two-year-old where they win and have a bunch of works, and then might get a setback with a shin or an ankle,” he said. “But this horse doesn’t have a pimple on him. He not only has ability, he’s got a great mind, and he’s extremely sound. I’m excited about running him.”
Join the crowd.
The field for the 94th running of the Sanford Stakes:
PP HORSE JOCKEY TRAINER
1 Officer Ipod Ramon Dominguez Anthony Dutrow
2 Dagnabit Cornelio Velasquez Richard Dutrow Jr.
3 Desert Party Edgar Prado Eoin Harty
4 Notonthesamepage Elvis Trujillo Wesley Ward
5 Bullion Cache John Velazquez Todd Pletcher
6 Vineyard Haven Javier Castellano Robert Frankel
7 Phosphorescent Robby Albarado Dale Romans