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Plenty of entries for Saratoga's opening day
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Judging by the entry box, horsemen are excited about the upcoming Saratoga meet.
A total of 127 horses were entered for Friday’s 10-race opening-day card at Saratoga, which will run 40 days through Labor Day. The feature is the Grade 3, $100,000 Schuylerville Stakes for juvenile fillies, but the best race on the card may be the $75,000 James Marvin Stakes for sprinters, featuring the return to the races of Grade 1 winner Vineyard Haven.
Seven juvenile fillies were entered for the Schuylerville, including the multiple stakes winner Final Mesa, who drew the outside post. However, Final Mesa was entered as part of a coupled entry along with Spa Sunrise. Wesley Ward, who is the trainer and part-owner of both fillies, named Eibar Coa on both, so one must scratch. Whom Ward decides to run will have a significant impact on the race.
Final Mesa has won all three of her starts, including two stakes. Spa Sunrise defeated males winning a New York-bred maiden race at Belmont.
“I’m going to wait until the Form comes out online, talk it over with my partners, and make a decision,” Ward said.
Ward acknowledged that a potential sale of Final Mesa could impact her participation in the race. Since a horse can’t be sold after entries – that would necessitate a scratch – Final Mesa would run for the Ice Wine Stable.
Stopspendingmaria, who drew the rail for the six-furlong Schuylerville, won her second start by seven lengths for trainer Todd Pletcher, while Let’s Get Fiscal won her debut by 5 1/2 lengths for trainer Rick Violette. Let’s Get Fiscal breaks from post 3.
Le Mi Geaux, Dos Lunas, and Show Me the Bling complete the field.
Meanwhile, Vineyard Haven heads a graded-stakes quality field of 10 in the seven-furlong James Marvin. Last year, Pyro finished second in the James Marvin but came back to win the Grade 1 Forego later in the meet for Godolphin Stable. Godolphin also owns Vineyard Haven, who won the Grade 1 Hopeful here in 2008 and the Grade 1 De Francis Dash last October. He has not run since finishing third as the favorite in last year’s Cigar Mile at Aqueduct.
Graded stakes winners You and I Forever, Cool Coal Man, Friesan Fire, Le Grand Cru, and Atoned also are in this field.
Ice Box headed to Haskell
Ice Box, who finished a troubled second to Super Saver in the Kentucky Derby, will get a chance to avenge that loss when the two meet again in the $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on Aug. 1.
Trainer Nick Zito confirmed Tuesday that Ice Box would make his next start in the Haskell, while Fly Down, Zito’s other top 3-year-old, would make his next start in the $500,000 Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga on July 31.
“I feel that’s the best way to go,” Zito said Tuesday morning on the Saratoga backstretch. “Monmouth’s track is playing [toward] closers, and Ice Box comes from behind. The turns are pretty sharp there, and Fly Down would be better off here; he’s a longer horse, a bigger horse.”
Also expected for the Haskell are Preakness first- and second-place finishers Lookin At Lucky and First Dude.
In the Derby, Ice Box was second-to-last for the first three-quarters of a mile before launching a strong rally around the turn. He was blocked twice and had to alter course from the quarter pole to the wire, before finishing second, 2 1/2 lengths behind Super Saver.
“A lot of people think he should have won it,” Zito said of Ice Box.
Jose Lezcano will ride both horses. John Velazquez rode Fly Down in the Belmont.
Zito skipped the Preakness with Ice Box and ran him in the Belmont, where he finished ninth (but was moved to eighth with the disqualification of Uptowncharlybrown) as the 9-5 favorite. Zito said Ice Box displaced his palate in the race, which compromised his ability to breath.
Since the Belmont, Ice Box has had four half-mile workouts, including a breeze in 48.60 seconds Monday over the Oklahoma training track.
Fly Down, who finished second to Drosselmeyer in the Belmont Stakes after beating that same rival by six lengths in the Grade 2 Dwyer four weeks earlier, worked four furlongs in 48.50 seconds Monday at Saratoga.
Zito said he is leaving his options open regarding Miner’s Reserve, who finished second, 2 1/4 lengths behind A Little Warm in a hot second-level allowance race at Delaware Park on June 29. One potential spot is the Curlin Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 1.
Karelian retired with sesamoid fracture
Trainer Rusty Arnold arrived in Saratoga with 18 horses, but unfortunately the star of the stable was not among them.
Karelian, the 8-year-old gelding who was in the best form of his career, has been retired after suffering a fractured sesamoid during a workout last Saturday at Keeneland. On Monday, Karelian underwent surgery at the Rood and Riddle Equine Clinic in Kentucky where Dr. Larry Bramlage used screws, wires, and a brace to try and stabilize the injury, according to Arnold.
“It was a really, really bad fracture,” Arnold said. “We’re hoping for the best to have him as a pasture horse. Dr. Bramlage is optimistic that’ll happen after surgery, but the first week or two is of the utmost importance. He was part of the family, we had him that long.”
Karelian, a son of Bertrando owned by Richard and Sue Ann Masson’s Green Lantern Stables, won 10 races from 22 starts and earned $722,675.
This year, Karelian defeated duel Eclipse Award winner Gio Ponti in the Tampa Bay Stakes, won the Grade 1 Maker’s Mark Mile at Keeneland, and, in his most recent start, was beaten a head by Victor’s Cry in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile at Hollywood Park.
Arnold had been pointing Karelian to the $150,000 Fourstardave Handicap here Aug. 1.
◗ Unrivaled Belle, who defeated Rachel Alexandra in the Grade 2 La Troienne at Churchill Downs, worked four furlongs in 48.10 seconds over the Oklahoma training track Tuesday morning in preparation for the Grade 1 Ruffian here Aug. 1. In her most recent start, Unrivaled Belle finished second in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps at Belmont.
On Tuesday, Saratoga clockers caught Unrivaled Belle in splits of 12.53 seconds and 24.63, and timed her galloping out five furlongs in 1:01.22.