(Trainer Rodolphe Brisset / Photo Courtesy of Keeneland)

From the NYRA Media Team:

  • Rockpaperscissors steps up in G1 CCA Oaks; Harvard likely for $120K Curlin
  • Bell’s the One set for Saratoga debut in G2 Honorable Miss
  • Original and Ranger Fox possible for graded stakes action at the Spa
  • Rookie Report: Terranova to debut full-sibling to multiple graded stakes winner Axelrod
  • Saratoga Race Course Week 3 stakes probables

Trainer Rodolphe Brisset said he was pleasantly surprised to see Rockpaperscissors shake off eight months of rust with ease in her last out allowance score against older fillies, and is hoping that the two-time winner can find a little extra in Saturday’s G1, $500,000 Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga Race Course.

Last year, Paris Lights and Crystal Ball led a WinStar Stablemates Racing exacta in the CCA Oaks. Rockpaperscissors will try to make WinStar Stablemates Racing the first owner to notch back to back CCA Oaks victories since Godolphin with It’s Tricky [2011] and Questing [2012].

The lightly-raced daughter of Distorted Humor fired off the bench in her two-turn debut in an off-the-turf allowance tilt on June 21 at Indiana Grand Race Course.

Piloted by Julien Leparoux, Rockpaperscissors appeared rank heading into the first turn as she settled into fifth along the rail. After chasing leisurely fractions down the backstretch, she asserted herself to the front in upper stretch under no coaxing and drew away a 9 ¾ length winner.

“She surprised us a little bit. She was a difficult filly to gallop. It wasn’t our usual pattern of workouts, but we decided to run her. It was just one of those things where we felt that we needed to run more than we need to keep breezing,” Brisset said. “So, we got lucky that the race came off the turf. She actually won very easily and she came back out of that race very good.”

In her prior start, Rockpaperscissors was a second-out winner when travelling a one-turn mile in September at Churchill Downs, winning by 3 ½ lengths.

Rockpaperscissors arrives off a trio of sharp works over the Keeneland main track, including a half-mile bullet two works back over muddy going. But her toughest test yet awaits on Saturday as she takes on Malathaat, the undefeated winner of the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks.

“She has two very fast works and showed us that she is getting fitter and fitter, but obviously, we know it’s a tough task,” Brisset said. “She’s by Distorted Humor, who is 27-years-old so he’s on the end of his stud career and then the mare [Rockcide] is a half to [2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner] Funny Cide. There’s nothing wrong with trying to run one-two-three in a Grade 1.”

Brisset will send out Donato Lanni and John F. Youngblood’s Demodog in Friday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Lake George, a one-mile turf tilt for sophomore fillies.

The chestnut daughter of American Pharoah is unbeaten in two starts, both of which took place against older fillies and mares over the Matt Winn Turf Course at Churchill Downs this spring. After wiring the field in her May 15 maiden score, defeating next-out winner Speightstown Shirl, Demodog displayed different tactics, coming from well off the pace, to defeat winners six weeks later.

“She broke clean and then got banged over. She got pushed around after a couple steps out of the gate,” Brisset said of the recent score. “It looked like they were going fast enough to where we didn’t want to be up front. They went 46 and change and 1:10 flat, so she showed a new dimension there that we don’t have to be on the lead. But with the one hole, we will break and see what happens.”

After two starts against older fillies and mares, which bother garnered an 82 Beyer Speed Figure, Demodog faces straight 3-year-old fillies in the Lake George.

“We loved the filly from the get-go,” Brisset said. “She got loose on the lead in her first start and was a bit green, but got the job done. I think her second race I was little surprised by the number on that race, I thought it was faster than what it suggested, and it was a very salty race. It was a very good effort from her. We’re back in our age group in the Lake George.”

Brisset said the Grade 1, $300,000 Del Mar Oaks on August 21 could be in play with a sharp effort from Demodog.

“We want to know if we can aim for the Del Mar Oaks or if we shop around and try to get her to win a small stakes. She’s in the right spot to find out where she belongs,” Brisset said.

Demodog, bred in Kentucky by Lanni Bloodstock and Westport Management, is out of the Theatrical mare Turn the Tide. She is a half-sister to multiple graded stakes winner Avanzare as well as Black Tide, a New York-bred stakes winner on both dirt and turf.

Brisset said CHC Inc. and WinStar Farm’s regally bred Harvard will likely target the $120,000 Curlin on July 30, but did not rule out the Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy on the following day.

The son of Pioneerof the Nile is a full-brother to 2016 Champion 2-Year-Old and freshman stallion Classic Empire.

After going one turn in his first two starts earlier this year, Harvard got quality education when displaying frontrunning speed and drawing away to a 4 ½ length win at third asking on May 12 at Indiana Grand Race Course.

Harvard took his winning ways to Churchill Downs, defeating winners going nine furlongs on June 11 in a race that included Dack Janiel’s and Claytonthelionheart, who ran one-two in an Opening Day allowance at Saratoga.

“Going two turns was really the case. He’s not an easy horse, he’s a full brother to Classic Empire and everyone knows he wasn’t an easy horse to be around,” Brisset said. “This horse was the same, but he did mature pretty well. He didn’t look very happy when we sprinted him the first two times, just because that’s not what he wants to do. He’s a horse that shows some temper, so you have to be careful the way you manage him. Finally, we were able to get him in at Churchill going long so we decided to just go for the experience. He got a good experience on the lead and came back against older in what I thought was a very good race as well.”

“We’re on the right path, the horse is doing very well,” Brisset added. “As of now, we’re leaning toward the Curlin. We could enter in the Jim Dandy too, but that’s something that I will discuss with Mr. [Elliott] Walden [of WinStar Farm]. He shipped in very well, may have one breeze here on Sunday and go from there.”

Brisset said he acquired graded-stakes placed Hozier from the Fasig-Tipton Horses of Racing Age sale earlier this month.

After making his debut for Brisset when a distant ninth in the Grade 3 Ohio Derby on June 26 at Thistledown, Hozier bested a field of winners going one mile at Ellis Park one week later.

Hozier is out of the three-time graded stakes winning sprinter Merry Meadow.

“I think the cutback to a mile was key,” Brisset said. “The mare was a sprinter for [trainer] Mark Hennig and she didn’t want to go very far, she was more six or seven furlongs. I think maybe what he wants to do. Maybe a mile could fit. He went through the sale, and I bought him for some new clients so he’s back in our barn. We’re going to give him another week of galloping and get a breeze and start to make a plan.”


(Bell’s the One / Coady Photography & Courtesy of Churchill Downs)

Bell’s the One set for Saratoga debut in G2 Honorable Miss

Trainer Neil Pessin said Lothenbach Stables’ Bell’s the One, a multiple graded-stakes winning millionaire, will ship to Saratoga for Wednesday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Honorable Miss Handicap, a six-furlong sprint for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up.

The 5-year-old Majesticperfection bay captured the seven-furlong 2020 Grade 1 Derby City Distaff by a nose over Serengeti Empress, but finished fourth in this year’s renewal, a key race that saw the top-four finishers – Gamine [Grade 2 Lady M, Los Alamitos], Sconsin [Grade 3 Winning Colors, Churchill Downs], Estilo Talentoso [Grade 3 Bed o’ Roses, Belmont Park] and Bell’s the One [Roxelana, Churchill] – win stakes races in their next start.

“She should have been first or second in that race,” Pessin said regarding this year’s Derby City Distaff. “She had a bad trip and was too far back in a very slow pace and then came on the inside instead of going outside which she likes better. If she ran the race she should have, she’d have been one-two.”

Bell’s the One, who boasts a record of 18-8-3-2, was a close-up fifth in the early stages of the 6 1/2-furlong Roxelana last out before rallying to a three quarter length score in the overnight event on June 19 at Churchill downs.

Pessin said he asked jockey Corey Lanerie not to lose touch with the field early.

“I told Corey if they go slow she doesn’t need to be 10 or 12 [lengths] back. I’m trying to get her a little more that way so we’re not so pace dependent,” Pessin said. “In her last race they didn’t go fast early but we weren’t far off of it. She was stuck in between horses – there were three across the track – and Corey let her suck back a little bit so she could get to the outside. When she turned for home, she just kicked on. She won by three-quarters, but it was a handy three-quarters.”

Pessin said Lanerie will retain the mount in the Honorable Miss, which is expected to include familiar foe, Kimari, who bested Bell’s the One in the Grade 1 Madison in April at Keeneland.

“Kimari beat us at Keeneland and it was my mare’s first out of the year,” Pessin said. “We also got stuck on the inside and didn’t get to bounce outside. If we’d got outside, I think we’d have beat her that day.”

Others under consideration for the Honorable Miss include, Don’t Call Me Mary (Todd Pletcher), Lake Avenue (Bill Mott) and Pacific Gale (John Kimmel).


Original and Ranger Fox possible for Graded Stakes action at the Spa

Eric Fein’s Original, who earned a career-best 86 Beyer with a front-running score last out in the $100,000 Manila on July 4 at Belmont, arrived in Saratoga on Wednesday and took to the main track Thursday morning as he settles in for a start in either the one-mile Grade 2, $200,000 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame on August 6 or the 1 3/16-mile Grade 1, $ 1 million Saratoga Derby Invitational, second leg of the Turf Triple series on August 7.

The Kentucky-bred son of Quality Road, with Luis Saez up for trainer John Terranova, set a moderate pace over good going in the Manila, kicking two lengths clear of the field at the stretch call en route to a head score over a rallying Public Sector in the one-mile Widener turf test for sophomores.

Original worked a half-mile in 51.21 Monday on the Belmont dirt training track.

“He had an easy work the other day,” Terranova said. “We’re looking at the Hall of Fame or the Saratoga Derby. We’ll see as we get closer. I’ll breeze him on the turf here in a few days.”

Terranova said recent maiden winner Ranger Fox, also owned by Fein, is under consideration for the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame. The 3-year-old Nyquist bay is out of the Quality Road bay Xtra Spice and is a direct descendant of Hall of Famer Xtra Heat.

Purchased for $310,000 at the 2019 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, Ranger Fox graduated last out at fourth asking in a seven-furlong maiden special weight against older horses over good Belmont turf. The 5 1/2-length score under Joel Rosario garnered a career-best 85 Beyer.

“He looked good doing it. He could come back in the Hall of Fame, possibly,” Terranova said.

Terranova said Hidden Brook Farm and Joseph G. McMahon’s Bank Sting will take some time off after being scratched at the gate in Saturday’s Grade 3, $250,000 Molly Pitcher on July 17 at Monmouth Park.

“She got banged up a little bit, but she’ll be fine,” Terranova said. “I wish they’d backed her out and given her a chance to reset. We’ll give her a bit of time and see where we are in a few weeks. She’ll need a bit of time.”

The 4-year-old daughter of Central Banker, bred in the Empire State by McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds, was a gate-to-wire winner of the one-mile Critical Eye at Belmont on May 31.


Rookie Report: Terranova debuts full-sibling to graded stakes winner Axelrod

Curragh Stables’ Fluid Situation, a full-brother to multiple graded stakes-winner Axelrod, makes his debut in Saturday’s sixth race, a six-furlong maiden special weight for juveniles.

Trained by John Terranova, the son of Warrior’s Reward was bought for $200,000 from Eddie Woods’ consignment at the OBS April Sale. Fluid Situaton will depart from post 10 under Joel Rosario.

“It’s a good family. He looks the part and is training really well,” Terranova said. “Joel has worked him a couple of times and seems to like him. It looks like he has some ability.”

Terranova said that added ground will likely benefit Fluid Situation going forward as his full-brother Axelrod won the Grade 2 Indiana Derby in 2018 at two turns.

“He looks that type [two turns], but we’ll see how he starts off and take it from there,” Terranova said. “He’s trained forward since the sale and done everything right. We’re ready to take the next step forward and see what we’ve got.”

Trainer Saffie Joseph, Jr. sends out Michael Ryan’s Labarde after finishing second by a neck on June 26 in a 5 1/2-furlong maiden special weight at Belmont Park.

The dark bay or brown son of More Than Ready tracked right off the flank of pacesetting Life Is Great and was briefly in command in deep stretch before High Oak overtook in the final strides.

“First time out, we ran him because he was working so well from the gate. We used that as a building block for Saratoga,” Joseph said. “That race moved him forward a lot. Obviously, there are some unknown horses in the race coming from top barns so it should be a tough race. But I feel that he’ll make a substantial improvement coming from first time to second time.”

Labarde is the first offspring out of the dual graded stakes winner and multiple Grade 1-placed Eskenformoney. He was bought for $160,000 from the 2020 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.

Jockey Manny Franco will return to the irons from post 2.

Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey will debut W.S Farish and Edward Hudson, Jr.’s Irish Sea, a son of third crop sire Honor Code out of three-time graded stakes winning First Defence mare Irish Jasper. The dark bay juvenile colt has trained at Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland before joining McGaughey’s New York contingent and worked a half-mile in 48.77 seconds from the gate over the Saratoga main track on July 17.

Jockey Jose Ortiz is slated to ride from post 9.

Lori Gervais, West Point Thoroughbreds and Charlie Pigg’s Faith Runner debuts for trainer Dallas Stewart. The son of Medaglia d’Oro out of the stakes-winning and Grade 1-placed Empire Maker mare Miss Empire was bought for $300,000 from the 2020 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, where he was consigned by Timber Town.

Faith Runner comes from the same family as 2019 Horse of the Year and Champion Turf Horse Bricks and Mortar.

Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez will ride from post 6.


Saratoga Race Course Week 3 stakes probables

Wednesday, July 28

$150,000 NYSSS Cab Calloway

Probable: Barrage (Danny Gargan), Devious Mo (Rudy Rodriguez), Dreamer’s Disease (Robertino Diodoro), It’s Gravy (Kelly Breen), Ocala Dream (Tom Morely), Step Dancer (Barclay Tagg)

Grade 3, $200,000 Honorable Miss

Probable: Bell’s the One (Neil Pessin), Don’t Call Me Mary (Todd Pletcher), Kimari (Wesley Ward), Lake Avenue (Bill Mott), Pacific Gale (John Kimmel)

Possible: Bayerness (Cherie DeVaux), Club Car (Ben Colebrook), Truth Hurts (Chad Summers)

Thursday, July 29

$100,000 John Morrissey

Probable: Bronx Bomber (Rudy Rodriguez), Jemography (Mark Hennig), Morning Breez (Patrick Reynolds), My Boy Tate (Michelle Nevin), Our Last Buck (Michelle Nevin), Runningwscissors (Jeffrey Englehart), Wow Brown (Kathleen Babcock)

Friday, July 30

$120,000 Curlin

Probable: Beren (Butch Reid), Collaborate (Saffie Joseph, Jr.), Dynamic One (Todd Pletcher), First Captain (Shug McGaughey), Miles D (Chad Brown), The Reds (John Kimmel)

Saturday, July 31

Grade 2, $250,000 Bowling Green

Probable: Breakpoint (Chad Brown), Channel Cat (Jack Sisterson), Channel Maker (Bill Mott), Colonel Liam (Todd Pletcher), Rockemperor (Chad Brown), Tide of the Sea (Mike Maker)

Possible: Arklow (Brad Cox)

Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy

Probable: Dr Jack (Todd Pletcher), Essential Quality (Brad Cox), Keepmeinmind (Robertino Diodoro), Masqueparade (Al Stall, Jr.), Risk Taking (Chad Brown), Weyburn (Jimmy Jerkens)

Grade 1, $350,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt

Probable: Firenze Fire (Kelly Breen), Lexitonian (Jack Sisterson), Miles Ahead (Rusty Arnold), Mischevious Alex (Saffie Joseph, Jr.), Strike Power (Steve Asmussen), Three Technique (Jeremiah Englehart), Whitmore (Ron Moquett)

Possible: Chance It (Saffie Joseph, Jr.)

Sunday, August 1

Grade 2, $200,000 Amsterdam

Probable: Drain the Clock (Saffie Joseph, Jr.), Flash of Mischief (Karl Broberg), Jackie’s Warrior (Steve Asmussen), Papetu (Antonio Sano), River Dog (Jeremiah Englehart)