Saratoga Barn Notes: Meet Comes to An End With Flare

(Robert Bruce winning the Arlington Million / Photo Courtesy of Arlington Park)

From the Media Team at NYRA:

  • Projected, Robert Bruce put in impressive breezes Monday morning
  • Therapist ready for return to Graded stakes action in G3 Saranac
  • Oscar Performance returns to worktab at Saratoga, eying G1 Shadwell Turf Mile
  • Hall of Famer Lukas expects bigger things from G1 Hopeful starter Derby Date
  • Week 7 stakes probables

Classy John’s win in the first race on Travers Day, at odds of 12-1, gave trainer Dallas Stewart his first win of the Saratoga meet in 12 starts, and the conditioner said he is hoping his barn continues to heat up during the final week of the meet.

Stewart said he will enter stakes winner Seeking the Soul in the Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward presented by NYRA Bets and send Cathedral Reader to the Grade 2, $250,000 Prioress on Sunday, and is confident in both of their prospects.

A 5-year-old son of Perfect Soul owned and bred by Charles Fipke, Seeking the Soul kicked off his 2018 campaign with a fifth-place finish in the Grade 1 Pegasus at Gulfstream Park and followed with a close-running second, by a nose, in the Michel G. Schaefer Memorial on July 14 at Indiana Grand. With two previous starts at Saratoga, including an allowance win last year which propelled a fall campaign that included a victory in the Grade 1 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs, Stewart said Seeking the Soul is returning to top form.

Stewart also confirmed Seeking the Soul will be ridden by Hall of Famer Javier Castellano in the Woodward, and enters with momentum after breezing five furlongs in 59.37 seconds on Friday at Saratoga’s Oklahoma training track.

“He had a great workout here,” Stewart said. “He wasn’t blowing hard; it wasn’t a very fast work, but he handled it good. He’s won here already, so we’re looking forward to running Saturday, and he’s doing great. He got banged up coming out of the Pegasus and we had to give him a little bit of a break. He continued training but he just wasn’t working.

“It was just a mild injury, but when he came back at Indiana, I thought he ran well. They ran really fast and for his first race back I thought he ran well. He’s had several positive works since then and I don’t think there was one bad work he’s put forth. Right now, the field looks open. He likes a target, he likes to lay behind them. Castellano will ride him in the Woodward and he’s riding great right now, so we’ll see how things go.”

Cathedral Reader, a 3-year-old Shackleford filly for GMB Racing who impressively won her debut by 6 ½ lengths on May 13 at Churchill, is expected to enter the Grade 2 Prioress. She ran third in an allowance optional-claiming race on June 21 at Churchill.

“She’s been here all summer and put forth some solid works,” said Stewart. “We know it will be a very competitive race, but we think she deserves a shot in there and has been training forwardly since her last race, so we’ll take our shot.”

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Projected, Robert Bruce put in impressive breezes Monday

Projected put in his final breeze before Saturday’s Grade 2, $250,000 Bernard Baruch at Saratoga Race Course, working four furlongs in a bullet 48.02 seconds in company with Robert Bruce on the Oklahoma turf track on a warm Monday morning.

Trainer Chad Brown said Projected, a 6-year-old English bred, continues to train well coming out of back-to-back runner-up efforts, finishing a length behind Voodoo Song in the Forbidden Apple at one mile on July 14 at Belmont Park before running second to Inspector Lynley by three-quarters of a length in the Fasig-Tipton Lure on August 11 at the Spa. The Lure, contested at the Bernard Baruch distance of 1 1/16 miles on the turf, marked the ninth time in the last 10 starts the Juddmonte Farms homebred has finished on the board.

“He’s been running real consistent this year, so hopefully he does it again in this race. It’ll be a little tougher, but he seems to be in good form,” Brown said.

After winning four races in France before coming to the United States in 2017, Projected won a graded stakes when he captured the 2017 Grade 2 Baltimore/Washington International Turf Cup at Laurel Park. That marked his last victory, though Projected has posted three runner-up finishes and a third-place effort in the Grade 2 Monmouth on May 26 in his four starts of the current campaign.

Brown said he was also impressed with Robert Bruce, who remains on target for the Grade 1, $500,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic on September 29 at Belmont.

“They worked really well, and Robert Bruce is going to the Joe Hirsch,” Brown said.

Robert Bruce, owned by Convento Viejo, is coming off a victory in the Grade 1 Arlington Million on August 11 at Arlington, rallying from eighth to defeat Almanaar by a half length at 1 ¼ miles. He will now compete in the 1 ½-mile Joe Hirsch in a race that is a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Longines Turf on November 3 at Churchill.

Entering Monday’s action, Brown had saddled 34 winners in the Saratoga meet – more than double the next-closest competitor in Todd Pletcher – and will be looking to break the single-season meet record of 40 he currently shares with Pletcher in the final week that closes on Labor Day, September 3. Brown won 40 races in 2016 and will be looking to clinch his second Saratoga title in three years.

Brown has a talented contingent set to run in the final weekend of racing, including Kurilov in the Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward presented by NYRA Bets on Saturday. After running eighth in the Grade 1 United Nations on the turf June 30 at Monmouth Park, Brown switched the Chilean bred back to dirt, where he ran second to Realm by a head in the Alydar at 1 1/8 miles on August 5 at Saratoga. The 5-year-old son of Lookin At Lucky breezed Saturday, going four furlongs in 48.66 seconds in the main track.

“It’ll be a much tougher race, but the horse seems to be doing really good on the dirt,” Brown said.

Raging Bull made a splash in his graded stakes debut, winning the Grade 2 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame by a nose over Maraud on August 3 at Saratoga, has three wins in his first four starts, with the only time he failed to enter the winner’s circle coming with a second-place finish in the Manila on July 4 at Belmont.

The 3-year-old Dark Angel colt, owned by Peter Brant, is likely to run in the Grade 3, $300,000 Saranac on Saturday, Brown said.

“As long as I see the turf course playing fair, I’ll run him,” Brown said.

Onthemoonagain and Santa Monica are still on target for Saturday’s Grade 2, $250,000 Glens Falls for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up at 1 3/8 miles on the inner turf, according to their conditioner.

Santa Monica won the Grade 2 Dance Smartly on June 30 at Woodbine, building on a third-place finish in the Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay on May 5 at Belmont.

Onthemoonagain made her North American debut on August 2 at the Spa, finishing third in an allowance optional claimer. A stakes winner in her native France, Onthemoonagain has three wins in nine career starts.

“They’re coming into the Glens Falls the right way,” Brown said. “Both are training extremely well. Santa Monica has been great.”

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Therapist ready for return to Graded stakes action in G3 Saranac

Collecting back-to-back victories in New York Stallion Series races in his last two starts, Oak Bluff Stables’ 3-year-old Therapist is on target to return to graded stakes competition in the Grade 3, $300,000 Saranac on Saturday, trainer Christophe Clement said Monday morning.

“He’s doing well,” Clement said. “We’re expecting him to run in the Saranac coming off a nice victory against fellow New York breds. It’s going to be a little big tougher of a spot for him this week, but worth trying.”

Bred by his owners and Clement, the son of Freud began his career as a juvenile last year with three straight victories, including wins in the Laurel Futurity at Laurel Park and the Awad at Belmont. He made his 2018 debut in the Grade 3 Palm Beach at Gulfstream Park, where he finished third and returned to win the Cutler Bay on March 31 at Gulfstream Park. Finishing sixth in the in the Grade 2 Penn Mile at Penn National, he then rolled off his two most recent victories, including last out on August 6.

Clement also said Blacktype is under consideration to start in the Grade 2, $250,000 Bernard Baruch on Saturday. The 7-year-old French-bred most recently finished fifth in the Fasig-Tipton Lure on August 11.

“I haven’t made a definitive decision as of yet,” said Clement. “We’ll see over the next couple of days.”

Lastly, Clement reported multiple graded stakes winner Disco Partner will target a start in the Belmont Turf Sprint Invitational on October 6 while Pure Sensation will target the Grade 3 Turf Monster at Parx.

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Oscar Performance returns to worktab at Saratoga, eying G1 Shadwell Turf Mile

Oscar Performance returned to the worktab for the first time since being pulled up near the wire and vanned off the Arlington Million, breezing four furlongs in 49.43 seconds on the Oklahoma turf track Monday morning.

The six-time stakes winner was checked out at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital. With no problems discovered, the 4-year-old son of Kitten’s Joy is back in training for conditioner Brian Lynch, who said Oscar Performance is targeting the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile on October 6 at Keeneland. Also expected to enter that million-dollar race is stablemate Heart to Heart.

“They’re on a collision course,” said Lynch with a laugh. “They both seem real good.”

Before Arlington, Oscar Performance was coming off a win in the Grade 3 Poker on June 17 at Belmont Park, building on a 3-year-old campaign in which he won the Grade 1 Secretariat at Arlington and both the Grade 1 Belmont Derby Invitational and Grade 3 Pennine Ridge at Belmont Park.

His solo work on Monday eased any concerns after jockey Jose Ortiz had to pull him up in Arlington. Lynch said the breeze accomplished what he wanted in sending him back out to the track.”

“He breezed by himself, we just wanted to get a feel for him without putting him under too much pressure,” Lynch said. “He was nice and comfortable and got his first work back.”

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Hall of Famer Lukas expects bigger things from G1 Hopeful starter Derby Date

Calumet Farm’s maiden 2-year-old Derby Date will need to have a few more afternoon appointments before he lives up to his name. The colt by Will Take Charge worked a bullet 1:01.99 for five furlongs over the Oklahoma training track Sunday morning with jockey Luis Saez in the irons in preparation for his third career start in Monday’s Grade 1, $350,000 Hopeful for juveniles at seven furlongs.

Off sharp in his July 28 debut, Derby Date stalked the leaders before tiring to seventh. In his next start on August 11, the chestnut bobbled at the break, but still was able to maintain the lead until he was collared with just a sixteenth of a mile from the wire. Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas said he wants his colt ready for anything that may come his way next week.

“I put him in behind horses [in his breeze] to let him catch a little dirt and everything, Lukas said. “You break like he did, you get three, four lengths in front, you don’t really find out anything about your horse except that he can run. The next race, he catches three or four in front of him and you say, ‘oh my God, now he’s out in the back.’ You’ve got to get them that experience here, not on Monday afternoon.”

Besides flashing speed, the sleep-loving Derby Date is a bit lackadaisical when he’s not running, Lukas said.

“I just think he’s a pretty talented horse,” Lukas said. “He’s a real laid-back horse; a quiet horse. He’s so laid back you almost worry about him. When he ran the other day Luis [Saez] told me that thought he’s [wasn’t] going to beat anybody, when he went in the gate, he drooped. Then he thought he might not break. He was really concerned.

“You can bring him out here, drop the shank, let him graze a little while and go get him a half an hour later. He doesn’t care about anything. When the gates open he’s got it on the mind, but he’ll get over that a little bit. He’ll be a little more focused, but he’s awfully laid back, it almost [makes me] worry.”

Lukas looks to win his ninth career Hopeful next Monday as he seeks his second straight with Derby Date after he and Saez teamed up to win last year with Sporting Chance.

“I expect a real big effort, I really do,” Lukas said. “He had two outs. One that I don’t count [and] one that was very good, just a bad job by the trainer. He got tired. You look at the replay, he did everything right except he got tired and that’s my fault not the horse’s fault. He got tired, which is correctable, and it will be. He won’t be tired.”

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Week 7 stakes probables

The Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward presented by NYRA Bets – September 1
Probable: Dalmore (Robert Hess, Jr.);Discreet Lover (Uriah St. Lewis); Gunnevera (Antonio Sano); Imperative (Anthony Quartarolo); Kurilov (Chad Brown); Patch (Todd Pletcher); Rally Cry (Pletcher); Seeking the Soul (Dallas Stewart); Sunny Ridge (Jason Servis); Tapwrit (Brown); Term of Art (Brad Cox); Yoshida (Bill Mott)

The Grade 1, $350,000 Spinaway – September 1
“Win and You’re In” Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Division
Probable: Bella Ciao (Sano); Catherinethegreat (Mark Casse); Chasing Yesterday (Bob Baffert); Love My Honey (Mike Maker); Molto Bella (Ian Wilkes); Reflect (Keith Desormeaux); Sippican Harbor (Gary Contesa); Virginia Eloise (Pletcher)

The Grade 3, $300,000 Saranac – September 1
Probable: Free Drop Billy (Dale Romans); Golden Brown (Patrick McBurney); Hot Springs (Steve Asmussen); Maraud (Pletcher); March to the Arch (Casse); Raging Bull (Brown); Sand Dancer (Hills); Therapist (Christophe Clement)

The Grade 2, $250,000 Glens Falls – September 1
Probable: Danceland (Shug McGaughey); Lady Montdore (Tom Albertrani); Onthemoonagain (Brown); Santa Monica (Brown); Savannah Belle (Brian Lynch); Summersault (Mark Hennig)
Possible: Violet Blue (Jimmy Toner)

The Grade 2, $250,000 Prioress – September 2
Probable: Bronx Beauty (Anthony Margotta, Jr.);Cathedral Reader (Stewart); Class Act (Bret Calhoun)l Dream Pauline (Kiaran McLaughlin); Moonshine Memories (Simon Callaghan); Purrfect Miss (Jeremiah Englehart); Sower (Linda Rice); Win the War (Casse)
Possible: Mia Mischief (Asmussen)

The Grade 1, $350,000 Hopeful – September 3
Probable: Derby Date (D. Wayne Lukas); Dream Maker (Casse); Mind Control (Gregory Sacco); Mucho (Mott); Nitrous (Asmussen); Somebeyay (Pletcher); Thatwouldbegrand (Dale Capuano)

The Grade 2, $250,000 Bernard Baruch – September 3
Probable: Inspector Lynley (McGaughey); Projected (Brown); Village King (Pletcher); Voodoo Song (Rice)
Possible: Blacktype (Clement); Conquest Sandman (Juan Abarrio)


We’re going to prep them all now at Royal Ascot and bring them to Ky Downs, the way it is working out,” joked Ward. “I had a lot of confidence in her going to the Royal Ascot race. Mr. Ramsey has a yearning desire to win over there, and I was second the first year we went with Cannonball. Of all the ones I ever brought since, this is the one I thought would win. There are so many things that can go wrong before, even during the race. But there was a filly that lost a shoe in the paddock, so she was walking behind the gate with 27 other horses for about 20 minutes and she just sort of got hot and nervous and the gate opened and she got left at the gate and forget it. Fortunately for us today, she rebounded and won a big purse for Mr. Ramsey and we’re on to the Breeders’ Cup now (Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint).”

Wesley Ward, Trainer of the winner Moonlight Romance

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