05/18/2017 8:30AM

Hedge Fund continues progression in Sir Barton Stakes

Four-Footed Fotos
Hedge Fund (right) loses a photo to Multiplier in the Illinois Derby at Hawthorne.

BALTIMORE – In other hands, Hedge Fund might well have been part of the Triple Crown scene this year. But with his deep bench, Todd Pletcher can afford a certain degree of judiciousness that other trainers cannot, and that helps to explain why Hedge Fund will run Saturday on the Preakness undercard and not in the big race itself.

Defeated in a tight photo by Preakness starter Multiplier in the April 22 Illinois Derby, Hedge Fund resurfaces as the obvious horse to beat for WinStar Farm and the China Horse Club in the $100,000 Sir Barton, a 1 1/16-mile race restricted to 3-year-olds who have never won an open stakes.

“It was a tough beat in the Illinois Derby, so this hopefully will work out for him,” said Pletcher. “We felt like he was behind schedule a little bit to make the Triple Crown races. We kind of felt like hopefully he can step up into that top tier sometime down the road.”

For the time being, Hedge Fund and jockey Javier Castellano will take plenty of backing in the Sir Barton, a key link in several multirace wagers as the 11th of 14 Saturday races. The Super Saver colt is the 9-5 morning-line favorite in a field of 10.

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The opposition includes Time to Travel, who is getting Lasix for the first time after contesting a hot pace and finishing fourth in the Grade 3 Lexington Stakes at Keeneland; Honor the Fleet, a two-time winner trained by Louis Albertrani of Artax fame; and Society Beau, No Mo Dough, and Watch Me Whip, all last-out winners on the Kentucky circuit.

The Sir Barton is named for the first Triple Crown winner. The race was run as the Barbaro Stakes from 2007-14 until reverting to the Sir Barton two years ago.

James W. Murphy Stakes

WinStar and the China Horse Club also have a major contender in Yoshida in an earlier $100,000 race for 3-year-olds, the James W. Murphy at a mile on turf.

Trained by Bill Mott, Yoshida is entered off a flashy maiden win over the Keeneland turf and has been pegged as a close 3-1 second choice on the morning line behind Dover Cliffs (5-2), the winner of a turf stakes on the April 1 Florida Derby card at Gulfstream Park for trainer Christophe Clement.

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Other notables in a deep cast of 13 include Mo Maverick, a winner last out at Gulfstream; Caribou Club, the winner of the Laurel Futurity last September; Adonis Creed, a winner last out at Keeneland; and Cool Arrow, easily the leading earner ($333,815) in the field but unstarted over grass.

The Murphy (race 8) is named for the late trainer who won nearly 1,400 races, most of them in the Mid-Atlantic region, from 1965 until his death in June 2009.