Better Talk Now Stakes’ Preview: Bulletin Will Stretch Out Against the Likes of Bourbon War

(Bulletin wins the Palisades Stakes at Keeneland / Photo Courtesy of Keeneland)

From the NYRA Media Team:

Three-time stakes-winner Bulletin will return to racing for the first time since April when he competes against fellow 3-year-olds and up who have never won a stake at one mile or longer in Sunday’s sixth running of the $100,000 Better Talk Now on the inner turf.

Owned by WinStar Farm, China Horse Club and SF Racing, Bulletin surged on to the scene as a 2-year-old, winning the Hollywood Beach by seven lengths in his debut on September 29 at Gulfstream Park before posting a 2 ¾-length score in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint on November 2 at Churchill Downs.

In his 3-year-old bow, the Todd Pletcher trainee extended his streak to 3-for-3 with a gate-to-wire win in the 5 1/2-furlong Palisades Turf Sprint on April 4 at Keeneland. The City Zip colt’s lone non-winning effort came last out when fourth in the William Walker on April 27 at Churchill at five furlongs.

Bulletin will be stretching out to the Better Talk Now’s one-mile distance, taking on his first career route with Hall of Famer Javier Castellano retaining the mount in breaking from post 7.

“We liked the way he’s been training. He’s given us the indication he’s ready to stretch out,” Pletcher said. “It seemed like a good spot to bring him back. We’ve had this race in mind for a little while.”

Bourbon War, who ran in the last two legs of the Triple Crown, will make his first appearance since running 10th in the Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets on June 8. Trainer Mark Hennig will see the Tapit colt make his turf debut after posting two wins in his first seven starts.

Bourbon War’s best stakes effort came in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth when he ran second to Code of Honor on March 2 at Gulfstream Park. After three straight Grade 1 starts on the main track starting with a fourth in the Grade 1 Florida Derby on March 30 before running eighth in the Preakness on May 18 at Pimlico, Bourbon War, owned by Bourbon Lane Stable and Lake Star Stable, will try turf, drawing post 3 with Luis Saez aboard.

Bryan Hillard’s Swamp Rat is looking to rebound from a fifth-place finish in the Grade 2 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame on August 2 at Saratoga. Trained by Phil Gleaves, Swamp Rat will be racing for the third time this meet at the Spa following a second-place finish by a nose against optional claimers at 1 1/16 miles on July 18 on soft turf.

“I would say a mile, mile and a sixteenth is probably his optimum distance, either one of those,” Gleaves said. “He ran very well in a mile and a sixteenth allowance. He’s knocking on the door. You’d hope that he belongs.”

Swamp Rat experienced a troubled trip in the one-mile Hall of Fame on firm turf. Gleaves said he could be part of the pace scenario on Sunday and will hope for a better route as he drew post 4 with Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez picking up the mount for the first time.

“He had a bit of a rough trip. He was pretty rank and got boxed in around the first turn,” Gleaves said of his last start. “It wasn’t the jock’s fault, it was just the way the race set up. We’re looking for a cleaner trip this time.

“I think we could have been on the lead last time had we wanted to, and if there’s no pace in the race I don’t see any reason why he couldn’t be on the lead in this one,” he added.

Gary Barber’s Our Braintrust will also be switching to turf for the first time, following a Kentucky Derby trail appearance with a 10th-place finish in the Grade 2 Rebel on March 16 that followed a third-place effort in the Grade 3 Withers on February 2 at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Trained by Mark Casse, Our Braintrust will race for the first time since the Rebel, run in two divisions, at Oaklawn Park five months ago. Tyler Gaffalione rides from post 2.

Klaravich Stables’ Front Run the Fed, back-to-back winner at six and seven furlongs at Aqueduct and Belmont, respectively, will make his Saratoga bow for trainer Chad Brown. A $300,000 purchase at the 2017 Keeneland September Sale, the son of Fed Biz will have Jose Lezcano in the irons from post 1.

Rounding out the field is Performer, a winner in his second start on June 29, for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey [post 5, Joel Rosario]; and Regally Irish, second last out in the Irish War Cry on July 6 at Monmouth, will race at Saratoga for the first time [post 6, Rajiv Maragh]. The Hennig-trained Achilles Warrior is entered for the main-track only.

The horse broke well today,” Gaffalione said. “I had the horse inside, Dunph, going to the lead and then (Gun It) showed a little bit of speed. When I saw they were intent on going I just tried to get him back and got him to relax. He came back to me nicely and settled well down the backside. Got a little keen going into the far turn and wanted to move a little early. But I didn’t want to take too much away from him so I tried to sit as long as I could. He was waiting on horses down the lane but I kept him at task and there was plenty of horse there.”

“Mark (Casse, the trainer) and his team have done a great job,” Gaffalione said. “They’ve had a ton of confidence in this horse the whole way. It’s just an honor to be able to ride the horse. He’s just so professional, trains great and he’s a pleasure to be around.”

Tyler Gaffalione, Rode of War of Will to victory in the G2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds

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