(Big Everest / JL Photo & Courtesy of NYRA)
From NYRA Media Team:
British-bred Big Everest brings a four-race win streak into his graded stakes debut in Saturday’s Grade 3, $175,000 Kelso, a one-mile inner turf test for older horses previously run as the Forbidden Apple, at Saratoga Race Course.
Trained by Christophe Clement for owners Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Steven Rocco and William Branch, the frontrunning Big Everest launched his streak with an optional-claiming score in September at Belmont at the Big A.
The 5-year-old The Gurkha gelding has since captured the Artie Schiller and Danger’s Hour traveling one mile at Aqueduct Racetrack ahead of a last-out victory in the 1 1/16-mile Cliff Hanger on May 27 at Monmouth Park.
Big Everest won just one of his first five starts, but since being gelded ahead of his 2022 campaign he has won 6-of-7 outings – all in trademark gate-to-wire fashion.
“He was the kind of horse that, early on, he fought with the jockey,” said co-owner Dean Reeves. “We learned over time that he was fighting with the jockey because he had speed and wanted to go to the front. So, once we got out of his way and once he was gelded, he doesn’t back up and they don’t have enough to catch him.”
Big Everest will carry 120 pounds when exiting post 5 in rein to Joel Rosario, who has guided the bay to five of his seven wins, including the Artie Schiller score.
LRE Racing and JEH Racing Stable’s multiple Grade 1-winner Casa Creed [post 8, Luis Saez, 124 pounds] looms the one to beat and will certainly appreciate any pace that Big Everest can generate.
The 7-year-old Jimmy Creed bay has posted two of his biggest wins traveling one-mile over the Saratoga turf, taking the 2019 Grade 2 Hall of Fame and last year’s Grade 1 Fourstardave Handicap.
The late-running horse won back-to-back renewals of the six-furlong Grade 1 Jaipur in 2021-22 over the Belmont Park turf and enters from a rallying third-place finish in his attempt at a threepeat when one length back of the victorious Caravel.
Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse will saddle a pair of talented Brazilian-breds for owners Gary Barber, Wachtel Stable and Peter Deutsch in multiple Grade 2-winner Filo Di Arianna [post 6, Jose Ortiz, 122 pounds] and Group 3-winner Ice Chocolat [post 4, Flavien Prat, 118 pounds].
Filo Di Arianna, a 7-year-old son of Drosselmeyer, was a Group 2-winner in his native Brazil before making first appearance for Casse in June 2021 with a smart allowance score at Woodbine. He rose through the ranks in 2022, taking a pair of Grade 2s at Woodbine in frontrunning fashion in the seven-furlong Connaught Cup and one-mile King Edward.
Filo Di Arianna, who won the 2019 Group 3 Mario de Azevedo Ribeiro over heavy ground at Gavea, enters from a narrow pacesetting defeat to Emmanuel in the Grade 3 Poker.
“I thought it was a great effort. I was proud of him,” Casse said. “It was his second start off a long layoff and I think he’ll improve from there. He’s kind of a chubby-looking type that does benefit from racing.”
Ice Chocolat, a 5-year-old Goldikovic gelding, captured the Group 3 IFHA over heavy going in November 2021 in his final start in Brazil before joining Casse last year for an 8-2-3-1 campaign that included a pair of optional-claiming wins in Woodbine turf sprints and a close runner-up effort in the Grade 2 Kennedy Road over the Tapeta.
The dark bay has made four starts this year led by a close runner-up effort over the Woodbine Tapeta in the Grade 3 Jacques Cartier ahead of a closing sixth-place effort in the Grade 1 Jaipur.
Casse said Ice Chocolat will appreciate stretching out.
“I think 5 1/2-furlongs to three-quarters is a little short for him, so we just want to give it a try,” Casse said. “They complement each other – Filo has speed and will be up on the lead where this horse will sit back a little.”
Bass Racing’s Kentucky homebred Annapolis [post 2, Irad Ortiz, Jr., 124 pounds] has banked in excess of $1.3 million through a record of 9-6-2-0 for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher.
The 4-year-old War Front colt has excelled at Saratoga, winning 2-of-3 starts led by scores in the Grade 3 Saranac in September and a close runner-up effort to Nations Pride in the Grade 1 Saratoga Derby Invitational in August.
Annapolis, out of the Grade 2-winning Unbridled’s Song mare My Miss Sophia, took down the Grade 1 Turf Mile in October at Keeneland but lunged at the break and never factored in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Mile in November over the same course to close out his sophomore season.
He returned victorious last out to capture a solid renewal of the one-mile Opening Verse in May at Churchill Downs, besting stakes-winner Churchtown by a head with multiple graded-stakes winner Set Piece in third.
Rounding out the field are graded-stakes winner English Bee [post 1, John Velazquez, 118 pounds] for conditioner Graham Motion; stakes-winner Anaconda [post 7, Tyler Gaffalione, 117 pounds] for trainer Joe Sharp; and the stakes-placed New York-bred Mid Day Image [post 3, Florent Geroux] for trainer and co-owner David Jacobson. Gun It is entered for the main-track only.
The Kelso is slated as Race 9 on Saturday’s 11-race card which also features the Grade 1, $500,000 Diana in Race 4 and the Grade 3, $175,000 Sanford in Race 10. First post is 1:10 p.m. Eastern.
Saratoga Live will present live coverage and analysis of the Saratoga Race Course summer meet on the networks of FOX Sports. For the broadcast schedule and channel finder, visit https://www.nyra.com/saratoga/racing/tv-schedule/.