The Whitney would be the second 2012 start for Rule, who returned from a nine-month layoff to defeat Flat Out by 1 ½ lengths in the Grade 2 Monmouth Cup on July 7. Last year at Saratoga, Rule won the Birdstone Stakes and was third behind Havre de Grace and Flat Out in the Grade 1 Woodward.
Caixa Eletronica, who has won graded stakes at distances ranging between six furlongs and 1 1/8 miles, could start in either the Whitney or the following day’s Grade 1, $400,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap at six furlongs, Pletcher said.
“We want to survey the fields,” said Pletcher, who said he would lean toward the Vanderbilt if it looked as if the pace would be fast.
Pletcher said the only horse he has trained with comparable versatility as Caixa Eletronica was Left Bank, who in 2002 won the Grade 2 Tom Fool and Whitney handicaps in consecutive starts.
“He won the Tom Fool at seven-eighths and won the Whitney the next time, but it’s pretty rare where you have one that excels at so many different distances,” said Pletcher.
So what else might be on the horizon for Caixa Eletronica?
“Three turns on the grass,” Pletcher joked.
Pletcher added that 2011 Travers winner Stay Thirsty likely will await the Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward on September 1. Both Rule and Stay Thirsty are slated to workout Sunday.
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Rudy Rodriguez remains baffled as to why Flying Zee Racing Stables’ Agave Kiss suffered her first career defeat when fifth in the Grade 3 Victory Ride on July 7, but the trainer is optimistic the 3-year-old filly will regain top form in the Grade 1, $300,000 Prioress on August 4. On Wednesday, Agave Kiss breezed four furlongs in 50.03 on the main track.
“So, far she’s been very good. She looks like she has adjusted to Saratoga,” said Rodriguez. “We’re happy with the way she is.”
Agave Kiss won the first six starts of her career for Flying Zee Racing Stables, including the Grade 3 Cicada in March at Aqueduct Racetrack, before she wilted in the Victory Ride.
“Your guess is as good as mine [as to why she ran poorly in the Victory Ride],” said Rodriguez. “I’m still looking for it. I’m going to [draw a line through the race]. Hopefully, she’ll do it, too. That’s what we’re trying to do. We’ll pretend it was a bad dream. It was kind of disappointing, but thankfully she came back good, and we’ll keep our fingers crossed. Hopefully, she’ll show up when we run her.”
In the Prioress, Agave Kiss is expected to have a rematch against Emma’s Encore, Jamaican Smoke, Tu Endie Wei, the respective top three finishers in the Victory Ride.
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Grade 1 winner Jersey Town breezed five furlongs in 1:00.59 this morning on the main track in preparation for an anticipated start in the next Sunday’s Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt.
Trained by Barclay Tagg for Charles Fipke, the 6-year-old has not raced since finishing second by a half-length to Travelin Man in the Sir Shackleton at Gulfstream Park on March 31.
“He’s hard to get to the races,” said Tagg of Jersey Town, who was scratched from the Belmont Park’s Grade 3 Westchester on April 28 and the Diablo overnight stakes on May 10. “He’s had a lot of issues, feet mainly, but he’s OK now. He gets hurt a lot, but he heals fast. I was pleased with his work today.”
Winner of the 2010 Cigar Mile Handicap, Jersey Town has been first, second or third in all but two of his 17 lifetime starts and has earned $501,610.
Tagg also said that Fipke’s 3-year-old filly Munnings Sister, recently arrived from California, was under consideration for the Grade 1 Prioress on August 4. The daughter of Speightstown, out of the Holy Bull mare La Comete and a full sister to multiple graded stakes winner Munnings, is 3-0-1 from six starts, most recently winning the California Wine Stakes at Pleasanton on June 23.
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Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas confirmed his rugged sprinter Hamazing Destiny will start next in the Grade 1 Vanderbilt on August 5.
The 6-year-old son of Salt Lake has competed in 18 stakes races, 13 of them graded, among 27 starts. With a record of 5-6-4 and earnings of $725,375, he broke through for his first graded stakes score on May 19 in the Grade 3 Maryland Sprint Handicap on Preakness Day at Pimlico.
In his most recent start, Hamazing Destiny finished a close-up fourth behind winner Caixa Eletronica in the Grade 2 True North Handicap on June 9 at Belmont Park, earning a 97 Beyer Speed Figure over a track Lukas said he didn’t like.
“That last race, he didn’t run well at Belmont,” Lukas said. “I expect him to run well here. A Grade 1 is always tough. He travels well, he runs well everywhere. He’ll once in a while get a surface he doesn’t care for, but most times he’s pretty good.”
The Vanderbilt will be Hamazing Destiny’s seventh start at Saratoga since he began his career in 2009. Last year, he ran three times at the Spa, finishing second to Jackson Bend in the James Marvin, then finishing sixth in the Vanderbilt and fourth in the Grade 1 Forego.
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Undefeated Awesome Feather, who turned in her third straight bullet work Wednesday morning, covering four furlongs in 48 seconds, could return to action by the end of the meet, trainer Chad Brown said this morning.
Winner of nine straight, Awesome Feather has not raced since taking the Sunshine Millions Distaff at Gulfstream Park on January 29.
“She’s doing great,” said Brown, who trains the Awesome of Course filly for Stronach Stables. “We’ll see if there’s a race for her at the end of the meet. I don’t think we’d look at the Personal Ensign [Grade 1, 1 1/8 miles, August 26] as a comeback race. But if she doesn’t race here, we’ll look for something at Belmont Park during the fall meet.”
A dual Grade 1 winner, Awesome Feather has earned $1,861,746 in her career.
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After Cease won an optional claiming race Wednesday, running 1 1/8 miles in a sharp 1:48.90, trainer Al Stall said, simply, “Horses for courses.”
Cease, an Adele Dilschneider-Claiborne Farm homebred, picked up his third victory in three starts over the Saratoga main track, beginning with 13 ½-length score in a maiden-breaker last year, which immediately preceded an allowance victory.
In Wednesday’s race, Cease eased back to sixth, on the inside, in the field of seven and bided his time until jockey Joel Rosario roused him for a spirited stretch run. He ran the final three furlongs in 36.25 seconds as he defeated a quality field that included runner-up Golden Gulch, Schoolyard Dreams, and 2011 Belmont Stakes winner Ruler On Ice.
“He was just behind, taking dirt,” Stall said. “He almost likes to be in trouble. This is a horse we freshened up and [the optional claimer] filled and everything fell into place.”
Stall has no immediate plans for the stakes-winning son of War Chant, but going forward they might include the Grade 1 Woodward on September 1.
“We’ll talk about it. It’s early,” Stall said. “We’ve got five more weeks. He could be sky-high by Labor Day. Cool weather, he’ll be feeling good.”
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Jockey Rosie Napravnik returned to riding this afternoon, having received medical clearance after suffering a non-displaced fracture of the third toe on her right foot in yesterday’s sixth race. Aboard Magical Season, Napravnik hit the side of the starting gate at the break and was taken to the hospital where X-rays revealed the injury.
“I’m fine,” said Napravnik, who through the first four days of the week had three winners, including a victory in the Grade 2 Sanford aboard Bern Identity.
Napravnik will be aboard Five Sixteen in tomorrow’s $100,000 Curlin and on Saturday will ride Fast Falcon for Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito in the Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy.
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Next Wednesday, August 8, patrons can receive free oral health screenings at Saratoga Race Course, courtesy of the Fourth District Dental Society, the Nassau County Dental Society, and the New York State Dental Association. Dentists will perform the screenings from 1-4 p.m. outside the Jockey Silks room, where fans can also enter for a chance to win a Sonicare toothbrush.