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SARATOGA RACE NOTES

Edited NYRA Release -– Stonestreet Farms’ homebred filly Clairiere made two outings at Saratoga Race Course last summer, posting two on-the-board efforts in Grade 1 company with a third in the Coaching Club American Oaks and a runner-up finish in the Alabama behind subsequent Champion 3-Year-Old Filly Malathaat.

The daughter of Curlin found the Spa’s winner’s circle this year when she turned back Malathaat for the second race in a row in Sunday’s Grade 2 Shuvee for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen.

“I’m very happy with how she came out of the race,” said Asmussen. “It was very gratifying. She ran solid races here last year in the Coaching Club and Alabama, and it was great to see her in the winner’s circle.”

Clairiere, who picked up her first Grade 1 victory in the Cotillion last year at Parx Racing, entered the Shuvee from a memorable victory over Malathaat in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps on June 11 at Belmont Park. She has won 3-of-4 outings this year, her only loss was a good second to 2021 Champion Older Mare Letruska in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap in April at Oaklawn Park.

Asmussen said Clairiere, the first foal out of 2016 Grade 1 Personal Ensign-winner Cavorting, will now look to join her mother on the storied list of Personal Ensign winners in this year’s running on August 27.

“She’s progressed. She’s racing royalty with the pedigree she has, and she has always kept great company,” said Asmussen. “She’s won a couple of Grade 1s and then the Shuvee, [so] her eye is on the prize in the Personal Ensign this year. We feel great going into it off of her last race and love how she’s feeling about herself. We expect her to finish off the year very strongly.”

Among Asmussen’s other stakes caliber horses at Saratoga is Grade 1-winner Gunite, who willmake his return to graded company in Sunday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Amsterdam for sophomores sprinting 6 1/2 furlongs on the main track.

A son of Gun Runner, who Asmussen conditioned to six Grade 1 victories, Gunite boasts a 7-for-8 in-the-money record that includes a 5 3/4-length romp in the Grade 1 Hopeful last September at Saratoga.

He finished his juvenile campaign with a distant fifth in the Grade 1 Champagne in October at Belmont Park before returning as a sophomore with a runner-up finish in a Churchill Downs optional claimer in June and a determined victory in the seven-furlong Maxfield on July 3 at the Louisville oval. 

Asmussen said the Amsterdam will be a springboard for Gunite to the Grade 1, $500,000 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial on August 27.

“It’s quite obvious that he’s a better one-turn horse at shorter distances,” said Asmussen. “We didn’t waste him in the Derby preps and we’ve got him coming into Saratoga for the Amsterdam and hopefully off of that, the Allen Jerkens as his goal for the summer.”

Gun Runner was also well-represented in the female juvenile division last year as Asmussen conditioned Wicked Halo to graded stakes success in the Grade 2 Adirondack at the Spa, just has he did with her mother, Just Wicked, in 2015.

While Just Wicked stretched out and remained in graded company after her Adirondack win, Asmussen said he opted to take a more conservative approach with Wicked Halo, giving her time off and bringing her back in sprints as a sophomore.  

“Her mother had won the Adirondack and I jumped her off into two-turn races from there. I did too much too soon,” said Asmussen. “So, Wicked Halo’s career has been guided by the mistakes I made with her mother. I think it’s proven to have paid off. We have a solid filly with a lot of future to her.”

This year, Wicked Halo picked up a graded placing when third in the Grade 2 Eight Belles en route to two stakes victories at Churchill in the Leslie’s Lady on June 12 and the Tepin on July 2. Both Gunite and Wicked Halo are homebreds for Winchell Thoroughbreds, the longtime clients of Asmussen who co-owned Gun Runner with Three Chimneys Farm.

“Both of them are horses that did some early advertising for Gun Runner last summer,” said Asmussen. “They’re two excellent homebreds for Winchell and are both coming off recent stakes wins at Churchill and have run well at Saratoga. I’m very fortunate to get to continue to run them.”

***

Blazing Sevens could target G1 Hopeful

Trainer Chad Brown said impressive debut maiden winner Blazing Sevens is a possible candidate for the seven-furlong Grade 1, $300,000 Hopeful on September 5 at Saratoga Race Course.

Owned by Rodeo Creek Racing, Blazing Sevens was coaxed from his outside post under Manny Franco and maintained outside stalking position down the backstretch before launching a bid around the far turn. Blazing Sevens and pacesetter Bourbon Bash separated themselves from the rest of the eight-horse field with the former taking command by the stretch call and powering home a 6 1/4-length winner. He produced a 78 Beyer Speed Figure for his debut triumph.

“The most likely thing would be to run him in the Hopeful, which would be my top choice,” Brown said. “It just makes sense. There are more maidens to break here and you’re going to see a lot of nice horses debut. It seems like right now, there’s a lot more racing to go. He’ll appreciate a little extra distance and then beyond that, I think he’s really a two-turn horse. I was impressed that he was able to win going six furlong because that will be the last time he ever runs six furlongs, I’ll tell you that.”

Brown said he was pleased to see Rodeo Creek Racing proprietors John and Carla Capeck find a good horse so early in their ownership.

“They’ve only owned horses a couple years. This is the second crop of horses they’ve had, and it seems like they have a really talented colt,” Brown said.

Blazing Sevens is a son of freshman sire Good Magic, a champion and dual Grade 1-winner who also was trained by Brown. Bought for $225,000 at the 2021 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Yearling Sale from the Eaton Sales consignment, Blazing Sevens is the first progeny out of the dual-winning Warrior’s Reward mare Trophy Girl – a half-sister to Grade 1-winner King David.

Five races later on Sunday, Brown alumna Practical Joke, a leading second crop sire and winner of the 2016 Hopeful, was represented by debut winning filly Kaling for Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher.

“That was a nice day of racing for me to see two young stallions that we had campaigned already off to a really good start,” Brown said. “It makes me feel a little older, but it’s good to see them go on to their second career and show that they’re successful.”

Brown is also eyeing stakes action for Klaravich Stables’ Appraise, who broke his maiden in the Friday opener at 11-1 odds under Franco.

The bay son of Kodiac was a close third, sitting two lengths off the pace, as Clubhouse and Alibi Ike duked it out up front. He made a sweeping move at the top of the stretch from the three path and battled with late-closer Inflation Nation in the final sixteenth to win by a head in a final time of 1:02.40 for the 5 1/2 furlongs over the turf.

Brown mentioned the possibility of targeting the $150,000 Skidmore on August 19 at Saratoga with the Grade 1 Summer on September 17 at Woodbine as a long term goal.

“I’m not sure if I want to keep him at five and a half and run him in a stake later in the meet, which I might do, and then maybe run in the Summer at Woodbine, which is a nice race to stretch out from a sprint to a mile,” Brown said.

Appraise was bought for just over $250,000 by Mike Ryan at the 2021 Tattersalls October Yearling Sale overseas. He is out of the Captain Rio mare Champagne Or Water, a nine-furlong stakes-winner in her native Ireland.

***

Kaling possible for G1 Spinaway

Aron Wellman of Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners spoke volumes of Kaling, who made her first start a winning one on Sunday at Saratoga for Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher.

By Practical Joke and out of the Indian Charlie mare Proud Indian, Kaling stepped up against a field of blue-blooded maidens with aplomb, asserting frontrunning position out of the gate, but allowed Rarify – a Wesley Ward-trained half-sister to champion Runhappy – to set the tempo down the backstretch.

Tucked along the rail around the far turn, Flavien Prat fanned Kaling a path wide into the stretch, and matched strides with Rarify nearing the three-sixteenths marker. She drew off to a 2 3/4-length victory while producing a 77 Beyer Speed Figure for the win.

Wellman said the seven-furlong Grade 1, $300,000 Spinaway on September 3 at Saratoga will be a possible next start.

“She’ll have to justify us taking that big leap, but that’s something we definitely have to keep in mind,” Wellman said. “She’s a filly that we’ve thought highly of from the beginning. She was broken down in Ocala by Susan Montanye at SBM Training and she always acted like she had a lot of ability and the mind to be a racehorse. We sent her up to Todd in the spring and she continued to impress every step of the way. We bypassed a couple of races and thankfully the patience paid off.”

Wellman recalled her professional demeanor in the paddock prior to Sunday’s race.

“We really liked what we saw out of her in all respects,” Wellman said. “She came to the paddock like a pro, warmed up like a pro, left the gate running, made the lead, actually got pressured, allowed that filly to clear, tucked into the pocket, took some dirt, stayed on the bridle for Flavien, found a seam and really lengthened her stride and mowed Wesley’s filly down the lane. All in all, it was a very professional performance while showing quite a lot of natural ability and certainly the mind of a quality racehorse.”

Wellman said Kaling appears to be mature beyond her years.

“There’s a lot of horses with ability but not the mental constitution to realize their capabilities,” Wellman said. “It’s rare to find horses that are strong in both categories, they’ve got the body, the talent and the mind for it. Hopefully, that will continue to be the case with her. This is step one and it was an encouraging first step for sure. Now it’s a matter of monitoring her over the course of the next couple of weeks to determine whether we consider the Spinaway or not.”

Kaling was bought for $220,000 from breeder Penn Sales’ consignment at the 2021 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.

“She’s developed right in line with the vision that we’ve had for her,” Wellman said. “She was really nicely put together, athletic filly, she moved well. She came from a good breeding operation in the Penn family, which goes back to that solid foundation she has, and we saw it translate over into the races the other day. She was just a hickory filly that was hard to pick apart. She really matched our criteria, she seemed like a smart filly with a good head on her shoulders. She looked like an athlete physically and had that tangible quality about her. We’re wrong more than we’re right, but it looks like we’re on the right path with her.”

Kaling’s victory came one day after Wellman and company visited the Saratoga winner’s circle with emphatic Grade 1 CCA Oaks winner Nest, who catapulted herself to the top of the sophomore filly division with a 12 1/4-length triumph.

The daughter of Curlin produced a career-best 104 Beyer when turning the tables on Kentucky Oaks winner Secret Oath.

Wellman said the Grade 1, $1.5 million Runhappy Travers on August 27 has not been ruled out for the ultra-talented filly, but that the Grade 1, $600,000 Alabama the week prior would be more likely. He added that the ten-furlong distance makes both races appealing.

“It’s something that Todd, myself, [co-owners] Mike Repole and Mike House will have to huddle up and discuss,” Wellman said. “I would say it’s going to take two major factors to sway us to run there. One, if she acts like she might benefit from an extra week from the CCA Oaks to the Travers instead of the Alabama which is a week prior. Also, if the Travers really starts to unravel in terms of the projected field. Right now, it’s shaping up a real race with a lot of good 3-year-old colts aiming for it. The Alabama is an incredibly important and prestigious race on the 3-year-old filly calendar, it’s incredibly historic.”

Wellman said he would dearly love to win the Alabama having come close in years past, most notably with Point of Honor [second in 2019] and Curalina [third in 2015].

“The Alabama would be an incredible feather in her cap as well, as it’s a race we’ve always wanted to win,” Wellman said. “We hold it in high esteem and regard. At this point I would say that’s Option A with the understanding that if she needs another week, we’ll for sure consider the Travers.”

Wellman said he takes a sense of pride in campaigning a high-caliber filly that is capable of running longer distances.

“She’s got an incredible engine, and that blood running through her veins and the sturdiness of her bones have allowed her to put together the campaign that she’s in the midst of,” Wellman said. “The stamina influence has to be playing a part in her ability to bounce back time and again and continues to improve. She’s got a lot going for her and it’s an honor to be associated with a filly of her caliber.”

***

Motion to send Highland Chief, True Valour and Sy Dog for Spa stakes

Trainer Graham Motion, who has won 19 graded stakes races at Saratoga dating to a win in the 1998 Grade 3 Lake George by Caveat Competor, will look to add to his Spa ledger this summer with Highland ChiefTrue Valour and Sy Dog.

Mrs. Fitriani Hay’s Irish-homebred Highland Chief arrived in Saratoga on Tuesday to prepare for Sunday’s Grade 2, $250,000 Bowling Green, an 11-furlong inner turf test for older horses.

“I’ve been happy with him,” Motion said. “He does find it hard in the hot weather, which is why I was anxious to get him up there early because it’s cooler in the mornings and I think he appreciates that.”

The 5-year-old Gleneagles bay captured the Grade 1 Man o’ War in May at Belmont, besting multiple Grade 1-winner Gufo and Yibir, the reigning Champion Turf Male. Last out, Highland Chief finished fourth to the victorious Tribhuvan in the 10-furlong Grade 1 Resorts World Casino Manhattan, a race that runner-up Adhamo exited to capture the Grade 1 United Nations last weekend at Monmouth Park.

Entries will be taken for the Bowling Green on Thursday.

R.L. Johnson’s 8-year-old Irish-bred True Valour was a pacesetting third last out in the six-furlong Grade 1 Jaipur on June 11 at Belmont, one start following a gate-to-wire score in the 5 1/2-furlong King T. Leatherbury on April 23 at Laurel Park.

True Valour will breeze on Saturday at Motion’s Fair Hill base in preparation for the Grade 3, $300,000 Troy going 5 1/2-furlongs on August 5.

Motion said the evergreen bay relishes his career.

“He’s a really cool horse to be around. It’s hard for me to believe he’s the age he is. He loves training,” Motion said. “He’s the first horse I see in the morning when I come in the barn. He’s such a cool character. He gets turned out in the paddock for half an hour first thing and then he goes out in the first set every day. He loves eating; he loves training – I’m loathe to give him a day off, to be honest.”

Head of Plains Partners’ Sy Dog will look to get back to winning ways following his sixth-place finish last out on July 9 in the Grade 1 Caesars Belmont Derby Invitational, the first leg of the Caesars Turf Triple series for sophomores.

The dark bay Slumber colt will continue on in the Turf Triple in the Grade 1, $1 million Caesars Saratoga Derby Invitational at 1 3/16-miles on August 6. The series concludes with the Grade 3, $1 million Caesars Jockey Club Derby Invitational at 12 furlongs during the Belmont fall meet.

Motion said Sy Dog will breeze this weekend with Belmont Derby fifth-place finisher Royal Patronage, who is also possible for the Saratoga Derby.

“He’ll breeze here this weekend and then ship up with True Valour,” Motion said. “We’ll decide after the breeze if we want to run him [Royal Patronage] back or skip this one.”

Sy Dog won his first three career starts, including scores in the Central Park in November at Aqueduct and the Grade 3 Transylvania in April at Keeneland. He finished a closing third in the Grade 2 American Turf in May at Churchill ahead of the Belmont Derby.

Gainesway Farm’s Spendarella breezed five-eighths in 1:01.40 Monday over the Fair Hill all-weather surface in her first breeze back since finishing a strong second in the Group 1 Coronation on June 17 at Royal Ascot.

“She actually did a little more than I meant her to do. She really breezed a half, but she galloped out the five-eighths,” Motion said. “She seems great. I hadn’t breezed her by design. I wanted to give her plenty of time to get over her trip. She got really tired in that race, I thought. It was very hot that day and I thought it got to the bottom of her a little bit. I didn’t want to be in a rush to get her back on a work schedule.

The 3-year-old New York-bred daughter of Karakontie won her first three starts, including scores in the Grade 3 Herecomesthebride at Gulfstream Park and Grade 2 Appalachian at Keeneland ahead of her 4 3/4-length defeat by Inspiral in the one-mile Coronation.

Motion said Spendarella is targeting the nine-furlong Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks on August 20.

“To win a Grade 1 would be huge for her,” Motion said.

Leverett Miller and Penelope Miller’s Nymph graduated at first asking on July 20 at Delaware Park, posting a game neck score in a 5 1/2-furlong maiden special weight. The sophomore daughter of Dominus is out of the stakes-placed D’wildcat mare C d’Cat, who is a half-sister to New York-bred stakes winner Wudda U Think Now.

“It was so nice because we’d been so patient with her,” Motion said. “She had little issues and had been very sick last year and had some little nagging issues, so to have her come out and run like that first time was really rewarding. I’m so glad for them. It was a good effort and we’ll probably keep her at home for now.”

Motion also noted that Crystal Cliffs, recent dead-heat winner of the Grade 2 Nassau at Woodbine, would target the Grade 1 Beverly D. on August 13 at Churchill Downs; while Maryland-bred Divine Huntress, who ran second last out in the Grade 1 Acorn at Belmont, is pointing to Saturday’s seven-furlong Miss Disco against fellow state-breds at Laurel Park.

***

Golden Glider ready to take flight in $135K Curlin

Gary Barber and Manfred and Perry Conrad’s Golden Glider, who was last seen finishing last-of-8 in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets, will make his Saratoga Race Course debut Friday in the $135,000 Curlin, a 1 1/8-mile restricted stakes race for sophomores who have not won a graded sweepstakes at a mile or longer in 2022. 

Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse said he hopes the Curlin will be a confidence builder for Golden Glider.

“Those were my hopes and dreams,” said Casse. “I think it’s a very competitive race though, so we’ll see.”

The Ghostzapper chestnut won his first two career starts, graduating in November at Woodbine ahead of an optional-claiming score in January at Tampa Bay Downs. He competed in a trio of Kentucky Derby preps, finishing fifth in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis and fourth in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby ahead of another fourth-place effort in the Grade 1 Blue Grass in April at Keeneland. Golden Glider finished a distant second to We the People in the Grade 3 Peter Pan in May at Belmont ahead of his Belmont Stakes effort.

Golden Glider has posted two impressive works over the Saratoga main track since arriving from Belmont, including a bullet five-eighths on July 13 when he went in :59.65 and a half-mile on July 20 in :47.54.

“He’s actually trained better into this race than he was for the Belmont,” said Casse.

Golden Glider, listed at 8-1 on the morning-line, will exit post 5 under Tyler Gaffalione in a field of nine led by 2-1 morning-line favorite Creative Minister.

Golden Glider was purchased as a weanling for $395,000 at the 2019 Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale.

Casse said Live Oak Plantation’s Souper Sensational, who was a late-closing second to Robin Sparkles in Sunday’s Grade 3 Caress at Saratoga, exited the race in good order and will point to a main-track event at Woodbine.

“She’s going to go back to Toronto,” said Casse. “There’s a race for her on the Tapeta.”

***

Saratoga Week 4 stakes probables

Wednesday, August 3

$135K Shine Again

Probable: Fouette (Linda Rice), Goodnight Olive (Chad Brown)

Possible: Liberty M D (Ian Wilkes)

Thursday, August 4

$135K Alydar

Probable: Art Collector (Mott), Chess Chief (Dallas Stewart), King Fury (Kenny McPeek), Masqueparade (Al Stall, Jr.), Mystic Night (C. Brown)

Possible: Happy Saver (Todd Pletcher), Zoomer (Mark Casse)

Friday, August 5

G2 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame

Probable: Churchtown (Roger Attfield), Double Clutch (Rusty Arnold), Main Event (George Weaver), Slipstream (Christophe Clement), Wit (Pletcher), Wow Whata Summer (James Lawrence)

Possible: Capensis (Pletcher)

G3 Troy

Probable: Carotari (Brian Lynch), Golden Pal (Wesley Ward), Spycraft (Joe Sharp), True Valour (Graham Motion), Voodoo Zip (Clement)

Possible: Arzak (Michael Trombetta)

Saturday, August 6

G1 Whitney BC WAYI

Probable: Americanrevolution (Pletcher), Hot Rod Charlie (Doug O’Neill), Life Is Good (Pletcher), Olympiad (Mott)

G1 Caesars Saratoga Derby Invitational

Probable: Annapolis (Pletcher), Classic Causeway (McPeek), Emmanuel (Pletcher), Grand Sonata (Pletcher), Nations Pride (Charlie Appleby), Stolen Base (Mike Maker), Stone Age (Aidan O’Brien), Sy Dog (Motion)

Possible: Royal Patronage (Motion)

G1 Longines Test

Probables: Chi Town Lady (Wesley Ward), Elm Drive (Michelle Nevin), Hot Peppers (Rudy Rodriguez), Matareya (Brad Cox), Sterling Silver (Tom Albertrani), Tarabi (Cherie DeVaux), Under the Stars (John Terranova)

Possible: November Rein (Kelly Breen)

G2 Glens Falls

Probable: Higher Truth (C. Brown), Key Biscayne (Juan Alvarado), Temple City Terror (Brendan Walsh), Treasure Tails (Cara Holtzinger), Virginia Joy (C. Brown), War Like Goddess (Mott)

Possible: Angelou (Kevin Attard)

$135K Fasig-Tipton Lure

Probable: Emaraaty (C. Brown), Safe Conduct (Phil Serpe), Sifting Sands (C. Brown), Skyro (B. Lynch)

Sunday, August 7

G3 Saratoga Oaks Invitational

Probable: Canisy (Clement), Contemporary Art (C. Brown), McKulick (C. Brown), With The Moonlight (Appleby)

Possible: New Year’s Eve (Brendan Walsh)

G3 Adirondack

Probable: Apple Picker (Rodriguez), Promise of Hope (Tom Amoss), Sabra Tuff (Stewart), Summer Promise (D. Wayne Lukas)

Possible: Janis Joplin (Casse)

$135K Fasig-Tipton De La Rose

Probable: Assertive Style (Tom Morley), Jouster (Pletcher), Love And Thunder (C. Brown), Nazuna (C. Brown), Our Flash Drive (Casse), Plum Ali (Clement), Stunning Princess (Danny Gargan)

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