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NOTES: SARATOGA RACING

Edited NYRA Release – Godolphin home-breds Nations Pride and With The Moonlight both finished second in their North American debuts in the first legs of the Caesars Turf Triple series on July 9 at Belmont Park. The talented sophomores have since shipped upstate to target the Grade 1, $1 million Caesars Saratoga Derby Invitational on August 6 and the Grade 3, $700,000 Saratoga Oaks on August 7, respectively, at Saratoga Race Course.

The Charlie Appleby-trainees arrived in Saratoga on Tuesday to the care of Appleby’s traveling assistant Chris Connett.

“They had a hack around the main track this morning, and they seem to have come out of their races really well,” Connett said. “We’re happy with them. They’ll be targeting the Saratoga Derby and the Oaks.”

Both the Saratoga Oaks and Saratoga Derby are contested at 1 3/16-miles.

Nations Pride and With The Moonlight, both piloted by Frankie Dettori, had markedly different trips in their respective first outings in North America, traveling 10 furlongs over the Belmont inner turf.

Nations Pride, a colt by Teofilo, was away slowly from post 10 in the Grade 1, $1 million Casears Belmont Derby Invitational, closing from ninth to finish just three-quarters of a length back of the pacesetting winner Classic Causeway.

With The Moonlight, a filly by Frankel, enjoyed a prominent trip from post 4 in the Grade 1, $700,000 Belmont Oaks Invitational, opening up a half-length lead at the stretch call only to be collared late by McKulick, who won by 1 3/4-lengths.

“Unfortunately, Nations Pride missed the break a little bit and had some trouble in running as well, but he ran a massive race,” Connett said. “The filly got on the front end and went fairly strong fractions early doors. She ran really hard to stick it out and unfortunately just got caught late on. She’s a really nice filly.”

Nations Pride entered his North American debut from an eighth in the 12-furlong Group 1 Epsom Derby on June 4, five weeks after a seven-length romp over subsequent Derby runner-up Hoo Ya Mal in the Newmarket Stakes. The homebred had a four-race win streak snapped at Epsom, with his three previous wins all coming on flat courses, including a 3 1/4-length score in the 10-furlong Jumeirah Derby at Meydan in Dubai.

With The Moonlight, who won the Pretty Polly in May at Newmarket, entered her Belmont start from an off-the-board effort in the Group 1 Oaks at Epsom on June 3. She is a full-sister to Group 1 winner Dream Castle.

The Caesars Turf Triple series concludes at the Belmont fall meet with the Grade 3, $1 million Caesars Jockey Club Derby Invitational at 12 furlongs and the 11-furlong Grade 3, $700,000 Jockey Club Oaks.

Connett will saddle Godolphin homebred Creative Flair in Saturday’s Grade 1, $500,000 Diana and could return later this summer to prepare Yibir, the reigning Champion Turf Male, for a start in the 12-furlong Grade 1 Resorts World Casino Sword Dancer on August 27. The Sword Dancer offers a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf in November at Keeneland.

Yibir won the Jockey Club Derby Invitational in September at Belmont ahead of capturing the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf in November at Del Mar. He returned to Belmont in May to finish third in the Grade 1 Man o’ War ahead of a score in the Group 1 Princess of Wales’s on July 7 at Newmarket.

***

Malathaat likely to make two starts at Saratoga

Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher said 2021 Champion 3-Year-Old Filly Malathaat will race twice this summer at Saratoga Race Course.

Shadwell Stables’ 4-year-old Curlin filly was second to Clairiere, also by Curlin, in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps on June 11 at Belmont Park, seven weeks after capturing her seasonal debut in the Grade 3 Doubledogdare at Keeneland.

Malathaat will likely make her next start in the Grade 2, $200,000 Shuvee on July 24 ahead of running in the Grade 1, $600,000 Personal Ensign on August 27, both nine-furlong events.

Never out of the money in 10 lifetime starts, Malathaat won her first five races, including the Grade 1 Ashland and Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks, before suffering her first career loss last summer at the Spa in the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks to Maracuja.

Malathaat would not be denied next out, successfully earning redemption in the Grade 1 Alabama. Malathaat recently worked a half-mile in 49.77 seconds over the Belmont training track on July 9.

“We wanted to keep her home and get two races at Saratoga with her,” Pletcher said. “The Shuvee first and the Personal Ensign is the current plan.”

Malathaat, an earner of more than $2 million, is out of the Grade 1-winning A.P. Indy mare Dreaming of Julia.

***

Rookie Report: Chocolate Gelato looks to give Pletcher a debut winner on Opening Day

Saratoga Race Course is often a launching pad for promising juveniles, including Echo Zulu, who was a victorious debut winner on Opening Day last summer at Saratoga on the path to Eclipse Award honors as Champion 2-Year-Old Filly following an undefeated season.

In Race 2 on Thursday, Opening Day of the 40-day summer meet, 2-year-old fillies will seek their first career victory going 5 1/2-furlongs over the main track, including Repole Stable’s Chocolate Gelato.

Trained by Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, Chocolate Gelato was bought for $475,000 at this year’s Fasig-Tipton Florida Select 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale where she was consigned by SGV Thoroughbreds. By second-crop sire Practical Joke and out of the Candy Ride mare Special Treat, she hails from the maternal broodmare lines of influential matriarchs La Troienne, Numbered Account and Get Lucky.

Chocolate Gelato has worked consistently over the Oklahoma training track since late May, including a pair of half-mile gate works. Her last work took place over the main track on July 9, where she went a five furlongs in 1:00.80.

“She’s an attractive filly that we purchased at the Gulfstream 2-year-olds in training sale. Everything has gone really smoothly and she’s trained forwardly,” Pletcher said. “She’s been well away from the gate in the mornings, so hopefully she reacts sharply. She drew a favorable post on the outside, so that’s a little less pressure on her early. She had good conformation and her breeze was good. She just had the general stuff you look for at a sale.”

Irad Ortiz, Jr., a three-time leading rider at the Spa, will ride Chocolate Gelato from post 6 as the 7-5 morning line favorite.

Godolphin’s Spelterini will attempt a first-out victory for Hall of Famer Bill Mott. The Bernardini bay also has been working on the Oklahoma since late May, arriving from Niall Brennan Stables.

The Kentucky homebred is out of the Smart Strike mare Keepshercool, whose Grade 1-winning dam Composure also produced graded stakes winner and dual Grade 1-placed Penwith and multiple graded stakes-paced Centering.

Junior Alvarado will pilot Spelterini from post 2.

Trainer Wesley Ward will send out CJ Thoroughbreds’ second time starter Half a Chance for her main track debut. The bay daughter of Flatter was second in her career debut on June 5 over the Belmont Widener turf, where she finished a pacesetting second. Her Illinois-bred dam was a four-time stakes winner in her native state.

Hall of Famer and five-time leading Saratoga rider John Velazquez will return to the irons from post 1.

The six-horse field also includes Will Be Famous [post 3, Jose Ortiz], Thirty Thou Kelvin [post 4, Dylan Davis] and Two Minute Drill [post 5, Ricardo Santana, Jr.].

***

Talented state-bred juvenile fillies line up in Friday opener

Chester and Mary Broman’s blue-blooded homebred Im Just Kiddin will make her debut in in Race 1 on Friday, a 5 1/2-furlong maiden special weight for New York-bred juvenile fillies over the Saratoga main track.

Trained by John Kimmel, the Justify chestnut out of the Lemon Drop Kid mare Khancord Kid is a half-sister to New York-bred millionaire Bar of Gold, who captured the 2017 Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.

“She’s had plenty of works and I think she’s fit,” Kimmel said. “Obviously, she’s got a little breeding. I think she’ll go out and give us a good run.”

The chestnut has breezed extensively at Belmont, including a half-mile gate breeze in 49.66 on June 27 over the dirt training track which Kimmel said went according to plan.

“She did it well within herself and I really haven’t let her do any pedal to the metal type breezes,” Kimmel said. “She should be ready for her first start. I popped her out of the gate up here a couple of days ago to give her a second experience and she handled that quite well.”

Kimmel said there are no physical similarities between Im Just Kiddin and the dark bay Medaglia d’Oro mare Bar of Gold.

“She’s chestnut and she might not be as big,” Kimmel said. “She’s average-sized but she’s training well. She’s been pretty classy in general.”

Jose Ortiz will pilot Im Just Kiddin from post 4.

Trainer Tom Amoss will debut Camp Akeela with an eye to a future start on turf.

The Laoban bay, a $65,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase, is out of the Woodman mare Tree Chopper, who is a half-sibling to Mubtaker, a multiple group stakes winner on turf. Camp Akeela is also a half-sister to La Australiana, a turf stakes winner by Australia.

“We bought her as a yearling with Saratoga in mind,” Amoss said. “We wanted to try and have a presence in the New York-bred program which has been hugely successful and New York-breds have shown they can win anywhere.”

Camp Akeela has trained at Churchill Downs for her debut, including a five-eighths breeze from the gate in 1:01 flat on July 3.

“I really liked her pedigree for the turf and having said that, she’s prepared well and we’ll use this race as a stepping stone for some grass starts,” Amoss said. “She’s prepared well and ready to go.”

Camp Akeela will exit post 6 under Tyler Gaffalione.

Rudy Rodriguez will saddle Maddie’s Grace, by Hard Spun, a $75,000 purchase at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Preferred New York-bred Yearling Sale. She is out of the Tiznow mare Graceful Rage, who is a full-sister to multiple graded-stakes placed Tip Tap Tapizar.

Maddie’s Grace started her training in June at Belmont and has since breezed twice at Saratoga, including a three-eighths breeze from the gate in 39.20 Wednesday.

Irad Ortiz, Jr., who recently captured the Belmont spring/summer meet to secure his 19th NYRA riding title, has the call from post 3.

The field of seven also includes first-time starters Irish Impress [post 1, Joel Rosario] and The Splendid One [post 7, Luis Saez]; the experienced La Chance [post 2, Ricardo Santana, Jr.]; and Lady Mine [post 4, Jose Gomez]. First post on Friday is 1:05 p.m.

***

Old Friends to celebrate “loveable loser” Zippy Chippy in Race 6 on Opening Day

After 100 starts and a life spanning more than three decades, the famous perennial maiden Zippy Chippy will be posthumously honored in Saratoga Race Course’s winner’s circle after Race 6 on Thursday’s Opening Day card at the Spa, named “In Memory of Zippy Chippy” by those that cared for him during his retirement at Old Friends at Cabin Creek.

Zippy Chippy, who passed away on April 15 at the age of 31, was well-known for his 0-for-100 record and frequent racetrack antics, often standing at the start and refusing to leave the gate. The son of Compliance’s career began with a debut eighth-place finish in September of 1994 at Belmont Park and concluded 10 years later when posting the same result in a maiden special weight at the Northampton Fair in Massachusetts in 2004.

Trained and owned by Felix Monseratte for the bulk of his career, Zippy Chippy’s closest finish was a runner-up effort in a Northampton maiden in 2000 where he was defeated a head in his 87th outing. He retired from racing with earnings of just over $30,000 and 20 on-the-board finishes and spent the first part of his retirement at a private farm until he moved to Old Friends at Cabin Creek in April 2010.

Old Friends at Cabin Creek, which is located in Greenfield Center, N.Y., is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization accredited by the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA). Founded in 2009 by JoAnn and Mark Pepper, Old Friends at Cabin Creek is a satellite farm of Old Friends in Georgetown, K.Y. and seeks to provide a dignified retirement for racehorses.

JoAnn Pepper, who managed Zippy Chippy’s care for his 12 years at Old Friends at Cabin Creek, said she is honored to celebrate the spirited gelding at Saratoga.

“It’s so fitting that Zippy will be honored in the winner’s circle. He probably wouldn’t have liked it, but we do,” said Pepper, with a laugh. “It’s a great way to bring attention to aftercare.” 

During his tenure at Old Friends at Cabin Creek, Zippy Chippy attracted the attention of fans from far and wide, frequently overshadowing some of the more accomplished retirees at the farm, like two-time Grade 1 Whitney winner Commentator and the late dual Grade 1-winner Will’s Way. His paddock was adjacent to Be Bullish, a multiple stakes-winning millionaire – but it was the 0-for-100 maiden that visitors flocked by the hundreds to see.

One of those fans was Rosanne Frieri, a native of Richmond, Massachusetts who first visited with Zippy Chippy four years ago and frequently made the trip to see him until his death. Frieri, a donor and supporter of Old Friends at Cabin Creek, was behind the naming of Race 6 on Thursday.

“I picked Opening Day because a lot of people will be there and we’ll start the meet with a big bang. I figured this is the only way he would get in the winner’s circle,” Frieri said, with a laugh.  

“I can honestly say he was the love of my life and he made me happy,” Frieri added. “He was so well taken care of and the volunteers loved him so much. Everybody loved him and wanted to see him. What a legacy, and what a life.”

Frieri noted that Zippy Chippy is a great example of the promise of aftercare for all racehorses, even those that did not post major accomplishments on the racetrack.

“There’s no discrimination at Cabin Creek,” Frieri said. “It’s the same love and care for every horse. I loved the horse so much, and he stole my heart. During his life and in his death, he still is the ambassador of never quitting.”

*

Old Friends at Cabin Creek, which is home to famous retirees such as millionaires Commentator, Naughty New Yorker and Be Bullish, will be open for public tours throughout the summer on Tuesdays, Thursday, Fridays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tours are free of charge and donations are gratefully accepted. For more information, visit www.oldfriendsatcabincreek.com.

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