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SARATOGA RACE NOTES

Edited NYRA Staff Release – Four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown breezed Early Voting and Zandon Saturday over the Saratoga Race Course main track in preparation for next Saturday’s Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy, a nine-furlong test for sophomores.

Jeff Drown’s Zandon went five-eighths solo in 1:01.95 under exercise rider Kriss Bon, while the Klaravich Stables-owned duo of Early Voting, with Jose Ortiz up, and Accretive covered the same distance in 1:01.05. Accretive is pointed to the Grade 2, $200,000 Amsterdam, a 6 1/2-furlong sprint for sophomores on July 31 at the Spa.

Brown said both of his Jim Dandy contenders worked well.

“Both horses did really well. Zandon went alone. It was a nice easy work for him. I was really pleased in how he was moving,” Brown said. “With Early Voting, I did a little bit more with him today with a workmate. He went fabulous. I was very pleased. As long as they come out of the works well, I’ll be happy.”

Brown said Early Voting, last-out winner of the Grade 1 Preakness on May 21 at Pimlico Race Course, impressed in his first breeze over the Saratoga main track.

“We wanted to see how he was moving over the track,” Brown said. “He seems to be a pretty good horse in that way. It seems he takes his racetrack with him. I never see him train poorly, but it’s always nice to get that out of the way and give him a work over the track to see that he’s moving well.”

Early Voting, by Gun Runner, did breeze a handful of times over the Oklahoma dirt training track last fall ahead of a winter campaign at Aqueduct Racetrack that included a frontrunning romp in the Grade 3 Withers in February ahead of a runner-up effort to eventual Grade 1 Belmont Stakes-winner Mo Donegal in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial presented by Resorts World Casino.

Zandon, a dark bay son of Upstart, was a game second to Mo Donegal in the Grade 2 Remsen in December at the Big A. Two starts later, he posted a rallying score in the Grade 1 Blue Grass in April at Keeneland ahead of his last-out third in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby on May 7 at Churchill Downs.

Accretive, by Practical Joke, was purchased for $180,000 at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale. He graduated impressively on debut, drawing off to a 5 3/4-length score in a 6 1/2-furlong maiden special weight on June 26 at Belmont Park.

Brown has nine horses entered in stakes on today’s Grade 1 Haskell card at Monmouth Park led by the undefeated Jack Christopher in the featured $1 million event. Both Brown and Ortiz, who has the mount on the talented Munnings chestnut in the nine-furlong test for sophomores, left Saratoga shortly after morning training.

While Brown will be busy on multiple fronts Saturday, he will also have representation Sunday in the first leg of Canada’s Triple Tiara with Sahlabiya, who is entered in the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks, a nine-furlong test for Canadian-bred sophomore fillies.

A maiden through two starts on turf at Belmont, Sahlabiya is listed at 3-1 on the morning-line with Kazushi Kimura named to ride. Kimura is off his mounts Saturday after being dismounted during a race on Friday.

The Medaglia d’Oro bay, out of the Tapit mare Orchard Beach, is a half-sister to Group 3-winner Sergei Prokofiev. She finished third in her May 1 debut in a race won by Canisy by a neck over the Brown-trained Contemporary Art. Canisy has since captured an allowance tilt at Saratoga.

Last out, Sahlabiya set the pace in a nine-furlong maiden special weight en route to a runner-up effort, finishing 4 1/2-lengths back of Contemporary Art.

To graduate in style, Sahlabiya will have to better the graded-stakes placed Moira, the 5-2 morning-line favorite, who is trained by Kevin Attard for X-Men Racing, Madaket Stables and SF Racing. Brown said he is cautiously optimistic of his filly’s chances while trying Tapeta for the first time.

“She’s a maiden and there’s one favorite that’s a proven stakes horse in there. We’re going to take a shot,” Brown said. “I know she’ll get the distance. She’s lightly-raced. It’s a very prestigious race.” 

Brown, who leads the Spa summer meet with seven wins heading into Saturday’s card, saddled the one-two finishers in Friday’s Grade 3 Lake Geoge with Dolce Zel [86 Beyer] nosing out Eminent Victor [85 Beyer]. He also sent out debut maiden winner Appraise in the Friday opener to post a head score in a 5 1/2-furlong turf sprint that garnered a 74 Beyer.

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Ethereal Road works from the gate with G2 Jim Dandy or $135K Curlin possible.

Julie Gilbert and Aaron Sones’ graded-stakes placed Ethereal Road breezed a half-mile from the gate in 49.72 seconds Saturday on the Oklahoma training track in company with unraced 2-year-old Track Mate. NYRA clockers caught Ethereal Road through splits of 26 flat and out five-furlongs in 1:02.80.

Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas said Ethereal Road, a sophomore son of Quality Road, remains under consideration for either the Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy, a nine-furlong test for sophomores on July 30 or the restricted $135,000 Curlin also at nine furlongs on July 29.

Lukas said he was pleased with Saturday’s effort which followed an abbreviated breeze last Friday when Ethereal Road bolted to the outside rail through the turn and was pulled up.

“We worked him out of the gate just to sharpen him up a little bit and find out where we’re at,” Lukas said. “I was trying to get a little better reading on him. His effort was very good today. He went in 49 and change and he actually could have been better than that. I worked him with a 2-year-old colt and he kind of waited. It was a good work.”

Ethereal Road finished a close second to Un Ojo in the Grade 2 Rebel in February at Oaklawn ahead of two starts at Keeneland, finishing seventh in the Grade 1 Blue Grass on April 9 and fourth in the Grade 3 Lexington one week later.

He became a part of Kentucky Derby lore as the horse that scratched from the “Run for the Roses” allowing 80-1 upset winner Rich Strike to make the field.

Ethereal Road rallied to an emphatic 4 3/4-length score in the Sir Barton on May 21 at Pimlico and came back one month later to finish a non-threatening sixth in the Grade 3 Ohio Derby at Thistledown.

“It was a step in the right direction,” said Lukas of Saturday’s breeze. “I’m going to wait and see how he is over the next day or so and maybe try the Jim Dandy. The Curlin is another option.”

Track Mate, a Calumet Farm homebred, is by Union Rags and out of the A.P. Indy mare Teammate, who is a half-sibling to multiple graded-stakes winners War Front and Ecclesiastic.

***

Allowance win could propel Keepmeinmind to G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup

Cypress Creek Equine, Arnold Bennewith, Spendthrift Farm’s Keepmeinmind returned from an 11-month layoff to capture a nine-furlong allowance tilt on Friday at Saratoga. He registered a 94 Beyer Speed Figure for the comeback win, which was his debut for Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher.

The 4-year-old Laoban bay, who was last seen finishing fourth in the Grade 1 Runhappy Travers in August, earned his second career victory in a dozen lifetime starts when making a five-wide rallying bid in upper stretch to win by 2 3/4 lengths under Joel Rosario.

Keepmeinmind finished third in the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile behind champion Essential Quality and Grade 1 winner Hot Rod Charlie, and one start later captured the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club that November at Churchill Downs as a maiden.

Spendthrift Farm general manager Ned Toffey said the comeback victory could propel Keepmeinmind to the Grade 1, $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup on September 3 at the Spa.

“He took some time to get squared away and get right,” said Toffey. “Todd has been patient with him and got him squared away, so hopefully he’s going to reward us now. Our goal has always been to get him to the stud barn and I think he’s now poised to run the kind of races that can get him there. The spacing of the Jockey Club Gold Cup makes some sense, but we’ll let the horse dictate and put a lot of faith in Todd to make the call.”

Toffey said Keepmeinmind’s pedigree and appearance made him appealing as a potential stallion prospect.

“He’s just a big, beautiful horse. Laoban was a horse who was really up-and-coming at the time, so when you can get a son who looks like he is poised to be a classic horse, that made all the sense in the world to us,” Toffey said. “It hasn’t quite worked out the way we liked, but hopefully it works out this year. The talent is there. It’s a matter of getting the right trip, racing luck and getting him right on the big days. We just need things to fall together. He’s a good horse and he’s right there.”

Pletcher said that Keepmeinmind had trained forwardly into his 2022 debut, including a sharp five-furlong breeze in 1:00.15 on July 16.

“We were hoping we had done enough with him to have him ready,” Pletcher said. “He indicated in his breeze the other day that he was as ready as he could be. He had a little traffic to contend with, but once he got in the clear he finished up well and galloped out really well. He certainly trains like a horse and has run some races that indicates he’s a horse that’s capable to win a big one.”

Previously conditioned by Robertino Diodoro, Keepmeinmind was winless as a 3-year-old, but still had a productive summer when a close second to Essential Quality in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy last July at Saratoga on the heels of a close third in the Grade 3 Ohio Derby at Thistledown. He was a respective seventh and fourth in last year’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness.

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Rookie Report: Ward debuts half-sister to Runhappy

Trainer Wesley Ward is set to unleash another promising royally-bred juvenile in Rarify, a half-sister to 2015 Champion Sprinter and medication-free stallion Runhappy in Race 6 on Sunday at Saratoga, a six-furlong maiden special weight over the main track.

Rarify, from the first crop of 2018 Triple Crown-winner Justify, was purchased for $750,000 at the 2021 Keeneland September Yearling Sale from the Gainesway consignment. She is owned by the Coolmore conglomerate of Michael Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier, Derrick Smith and Westerberg, as well as Jonathan Poulin.

Ward, who has a penchant for training sprint stars on both dirt and turf, said Rarify has the potential to stretch out.

“She’s meant to go further,” Ward said. “She has a really good mind to her as well. She’s a very kind and sweet filly. She’s like a Labrador. She doesn’t get too nervous or rattled.”

Rarify has trained consistently at Keeneland, most recently working five furlongs in 1:03 flat on July 14. She also posted three half-mile works from the gate earlier this summer, completing all of them in 48.20 seconds.

“What really impresses me the most about her is her stride. All of her breezes have been perfect,” Ward said.

Rarify will leave post 7 in the eight-horse field under Irad Ortiz, Jr.

“I think the post is perfect,” Ward said. “She’s on the outside but she’s got one just to her outside, so she doesn’t duck out. I had Irad jog her yesterday morning to get him familiar with her. Perfect post, great rider, we’re ready to go.”

Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher will saddle Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners’ Kaling [post 4, Flavien Prat] for her career debut.

The dark bay or brown daughter of Practical Joke, out of the Indian Charlie mare Proud Indian, comes from the same family as 2005 Kentucky Oaks winner Summerly.  She worked five-eighths in 1:01.64 on July 17 over the Saratoga main track, which came one week after a bullet half-mile gate breeze in 48.02 over Big Sandy.

“I like the way she trained at Belmont. She came up here with a good breeze,” Pletcher said. “She looked sharp from the gate, so hopefully she does that on Sunday.”

Kaling was bought for $220,000 at the 2021 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, where she was consigned by breeders’ John R. Penn and Frank Penn’s consignment.

Willis Horton Racing’s homebred Take Charge Briana will make her debut for Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas. The daughter of Curlin is out of the unraced War Front mare Take Charge Tressa, a half-sister to 2014 Champion 2-Year-Old Filly Take Charge Brandi, who also was trained by Lukas. All are direct descendants of Grade 1-winning millionaire and 2014 Champion Broodmare Take Charge Lady.

Take Charge Briana breaks from post 5 under Tyler Gaffalione. 

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