09/03/2010 2:13PM

Fantastico Roberto takes blinkers off in Saranac


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y – When Fantastico Roberto turned in a clunker in the Jersey Derby on Aug. 1, trainer Todd Pletcher decided one important change would be made when the colt returned in the Grade 3, $100,000 Saranac on Sunday at Saratoga.

“Blinkers off,” Pletcher said. “He was too rank the last time.”

Fantastico Roberto drew post 2 in the field of six 3-year-olds going 1 3/16 miles on the turf. He is the highweight at 119 pounds, two pounds more than the others.

Owned by Team Valor, Fantastico Roberto won both of his starts in Italy and finished fourth in his stateside debut, the Spectacular Bid at Arlington Park, last year. He opened his campaign this year with a pair of seconds in allowance company before winning the Choice Stakes at Monmouth Park on July 3.

That string of good performances ended in the Jersey Derby, in which he opened a four-length lead under jockey Alan Garcia before tiring and finishing seventh, 6 1/2 lengths back.

“It was terrible,” Pletcher said. “He basically ran off with Alan.”

Jockey John Velazquez returns aboard Fantastico Roberto, and Garcia moves back to Lethal Combination, whom he has ridden in three of his last four starts. Also in the field for the Saranac are Citrus Kid, Devon Rock, Turf Melody, and Mystic.

Citrus Kid is winless in his two starts this year and most recently was fifth in the Grade 2 National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame Stakes, but trainer John Terrnova II said the colt is improving.

“I’m looking forward to the race,” Terranova said. “I thought he had a hell of a race in the last one. It was a good prep for him. We were just looking to get a good, solid effort into him. He got beat less than five lengths to Interactif, who next to Paddy O’Prado has got to be the second-best 3-year-old turf horse around.”

Citrus Kid finished third in the Remsen after being purchased late last year. He was seventh in the Grade 3 Lecomte in January, then was knocked out of training by an illness and had surgery to remove an undescended testicle. The Hall of Fame stakes was his first race in seven months.

“It was a great effort off the bench,” Terranova said. “It looks like we can move forward off it. He’s certainly trained well since.”