Edited Keeneland Staff Release — Trainer Larry Demeritte, part of the Keeneland racing community for decades, has a chance to win one of the track’s signature races Saturday. His entrant, Harry Veruchi’s West Saratoga, has drawn post 5 in the field of nine 2-year-olds entered for the $600,000 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1), the ninth race with a post time of 5:14 p.m. Geraldo Corrales is the jockey.
“It means a lot to be in this race because Keeneland is like my second home,” said Demeritte (right). “I enjoy training horses here, and it would mean a great deal to win because it would mean he is the kind of horse I think he is.”
West Saratoga comes to the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity after winning the Sept. 16 Iroquois (G3) at Churchill Downs to give Demeritte the biggest victory of his career. The colt scored his first triumph on Aug. 5 at Ellis Park at 1 mile after three seconds and a fourth at shorter distances.
On the 12th and final day of Keeneland’s 2022 September Yearling Sale, Demeritte selected West Saratoga from the consignment of Hidden Brook, agent. The colt was Hip 4146 of the 4,164 horses in the catalog.
Demeritte said he saw something more than the flashy gray color of the colt, who is from the family of 2010 Darley Alcibiades (G1) winner Wickedly Perfect.
“He was really smart around the sale ring and real attentive,” he said. “You look for that in a quality horse. Some horses have ability, but if they seem nervous at the sale, that is not going to transfer well into being a good racehorse.”
On behalf of Veruchi, Demeritte had the final $11,000 bid on West Saratoga, who has now earned $276,815 and is set to become the trainer’s first starter in the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity.
“You have to be around good horses to have something to compare them too,” Demeritte said. “The Breeders’ Futurity is a good test for him because a lot of these horses are going to wind up in the Kentucky Derby.”
Click here for a video interview with Demeritte.
LIVE IN THE DREAM (IRE) TESTS OUT KEENELAND TURF COURSE
Jolene and Steve De’Lemos’ Live In The Dream (IRE), winner of the Coolmore Wootton Bassett Nunthorpe at York in England on Aug. 25 in his Group 1 debut, received a tuneup for his tuneup Tuesday morning at Keeneland by working 5 furlongs in 1:01.80 over a turf course labeled as good.
The victory in the Nunthorpe gave Live In The Dream a fees-paid berth into the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) to be run Nov. 4 at Santa Anita.
“The race here (Saturday’s $350,000 Woodford-G2 Presented by Fan Duel) is a prep for the Breeders’ Cup,” assistant trainer Natasha Hill said. “The plan is to stay here and then ship to California Oct. 25.”
With Shoshona Cooksley-Towner aboard Tuesday for trainer Adam West, Live In The Dream made one circuit of the main track prior to his work with Keeneland clockers catching the 4-year-old finishing his final eighth of a mile in less than 12 seconds.
“Very happy with that,” Hill said.
Live In The Dream led all the way in winning at York. Tuesday’s work gave him the opportunity to race around the turn. Most of his races in Europe have been on straightaways.
Live In The Dream quarantined at Churchill Downs for five days last week before coming to Keeneland Sunday after training in Louisville. He went to Keeneland’s all-weather training track Monday morning.
“He has won on everything; firm turf, soft turf, all-weather,” Hill said.
The entire Live In The Dream crew is scheduled to travel Wednesday from Europe and slated to be at the track Thursday morning. Completing the entourage of the De’Lemoses and West is jockey Sean Kirrane.
EVVIE JETS ARRIVES FOR FIRST LADY PRESENTED BY UK HEALTHCARE
The Estate of RobertAmendola’s Evvie Jets, upset winner of the Mohegan Sun Ballston Spa (G2) at Saratoga in her most recent start, arrived at Keeneland Monday from her main base at Belmont Park for Saturday’s 26th running of the $750,000 First Lady (G1) Presented by UK HealthCare.
The First Lady will represent Evvie Jets’ first attempt in a Grade 1 race and provide trainer Mertkan Kantarmaci with his first Keeneland starter.
“I have been here for sales and to go to the races, but I never have started one,” said Kantarmaci, a native of Turkey.
Kantarmaci claimed Evvie Jets for $80,000 at Belmont two years ago, and the 5-year-old daughter of Twirling Candy has proved to be quite the acquisition. In 14 races for her new owners, Evvie Jets has six wins and five seconds.
The decision to come to Keeneland for the First Lady was an easy one for Kantarmaci.
“There are no races like this in New York now,” Kantarmaci said. “And the distance (1 mile) is what we are looking for.”
In the Ballston Spa, Evvie Jets defeated Saturday rivals Jumbly (GB) and Gam’s Mission.