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Pletcher buys time for 'Holiday'
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Harlan's Holiday appears in the entries for Saturday's Grade 1, $750,000 Whitney Handicap, but it is unlikely that he'll appear in the starting gate.
Trainer Todd Pletcher said he wanted to buy more time to think it over, but he is leaning more toward scratching and pointing Harlan's Holiday to the $300,000 Saratoga Breeders' Cup on Aug. 16. Pletcher said he would consider running Harlan's Holiday in the Whitney should probable favorite Medaglia d'Oro not run. It cost owner Jack Wolf $3,500 to enter Harlan's Holiday.
"He felt like it was worth it to buy the time,'' said Pletcher, who named Pat Day to ride. "Not that you wish anything bad on anybody, but if Saturday morning Medaglia d'Oro is coughing and we didn't enter then at that point our decision would already have been made.''
Pletcher said he is reluctant to run Harlan's Holiday in the Whitney because it comes just 20 days after he finished second to Congaree in the Hollywood Gold Cup. Pletcher also would prefer not to run Harlan's Holiday on a wet track, and there is rain in the forecast for Saturday.
"My biggest concern is the 20 days with a ship to California and back and running a hard race could leave him a little bit empty,'' Pletcher said. "This is the type of race you're going to have to run a 115 to 120 Beyer [Speed Figure]; you're looking for a lifetime top. Shipping to California and 20 days is not usually the best way to come to a lifetime top.''
Pletcher said the only reason he gave the Whitney any thought in the first place is because Harlan's Holiday appears to be doing so well.
"It's made me think hard about it,'' Pletcher said. "But sometimes they get to the eighth pole and they're not quite as sharp as you thought they were.''
Pletcher sets juvenile schedule
After winning the first round of stakes here for juveniles and juvenile fillies during opening week, Pletcher appears to have his lineup set for the remaining four juvenile stakes races at this meet.
Pletcher will send out Lokoya in the $150,000 Adirondack on Aug. 11. Two days later, in the $150,000 Saratoga Special, Pletcher will saddle Limehouse and possibly Value Plus and Heckle.
Pletcher is pointing Schuylerville winner Ashado to the Grade 1 Spinaway on Aug. 29 and Sanford winner Chapel Royal to the Grade 1 Hopeful on Aug. 30.
Pletcher said Hermione's Magic, who finished third in the Schuylerville, will be pointed to the $300,000 NATC Sorority at Delaware Park on Aug. 30.
Thursday, Pletcher sent out Limehouse for a five-furlong workout over the Oklahoma training track that was timed in 1:02.86. Limehouse worked in company with another 2-year-old, Purge, who started five lengths in front of Limehouse. Limehouse finished about one length in front at the wire.
Limehouse, a son of Grand Slam, is 3 for 3 with victories in the Three Chimneys Juvenile and Bashford Manor Stakes, both at Churchill Downs.
"He was a little unassuming early on, but he's gotten better and better,'' Pletcher said. "He's developed physically into a tough, seasoned type of horse for this early in the game. He's handled adversity in both of his stakes wins.''
Meanwhile, Pletcher unveiled another good-looking 2-year-old filly on Thursday as Marylebone, a daughter of Unbridled's Song who brought $725,000 at auction, won a five-furlong maiden race by a neck over For My Wife. Marylebone covered the distance in 58.64 seconds.
Pletcher has now won nine races at this meet, five with 2-year-olds.
Valid Video to King's Bishop
Valid Video, who was expected to be one of the key contenders in Saturday's Amsterdam Stakes, will not run and await the Grade 1 King's Bishop Stakes on Aug. 23.
Valid Video has won 5 of 8 starts, including the Grade 3 Sapling and Carry Back stakes. He is coming off the best effort of his career, a 2 1/2-length victory in Calder's Carry Back on July 12. The win earned him a 110 Beyer Speed Figure.
"He came out of the Carry Back well but I just decided we can't make three big dances in a row and do the right thing by the horse," trainer Dennis Manning said. "He's he kind of horse who'll step up to the table and give you a really big effort whenever you ask. He just can't go two turns. The King's Bishop will be the real test and pretty much decide where we'll be heading the rest of the year. If he runs well, we'll point him towards the Breeders' Cup Sprint. If not we'll look some place else."
Manning is also excited about another 3-year-old prospect, Grand Hombre, who remained undefeated in three starts after posting a 1 1/2-length allowance victory at Monmouth Park on July 25. Grand Hombre has earned Beyer figures of 100, 103, and 106 for his three wins.
"We've had a few minor setbacks with him along the way," Manning said. "He had a little lung infection after breaking his maiden at Gulfstream and I lost about a month of training with him due to the monsoons we had earlier this summer in New Jersey. I wanted to give him a little seasoning before taking on the big boys and now if all goes well I'm thinking about trying him next in the Pennsylvania Derby. That race should pretty much give us an idea what direction to take with him later this season."
During set for Jim Dandy
During, who was shipped from California by trainer Bob Baffert for Sunday's Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes, arrived safely here Wednesday and was out for an easy gallop over the Oklahoma training track on Thursday morning. As is the case with all of Baffert's cross country shippers, During is stabled with John and Tonja Terranova.
"He shipped well and looks tremendous," said Tanya Terranova who will saddle During for Baffert in the Jim Dandy. "He's grown up a lot and really matured since the last time I saw him when he came to Aqueduct for the Bay Shore in April."
During has been much improved since finishing a well-beaten seventh over a muddy track in the Bay Shore. A son of Cherokee Run, During finished second in the Sir Barton and third in the Northern Dancer before upsetting Ten Most Wanted and Eye of the Tiger in Hollywood's Grade 2 Swaps on July 13.
"He worked Monday and traveled Wednesday so today was his light day," Terranova said. "He just galloped a mile this morning. I'll take him over to the main track and let him get a feel for the surface [Friday]."
'Peb' honored by Saratoga mayor
Pierre Bellocq, better known as Peb, the Daily Racing Form cartoonist for more than 50 years, will be honored by Saratoga mayor Kenneth Klotz Saturday at 11 a.m. at the Fasig-Tipton Sales Pavilion. At the same time, Peb will unveil his first and only fiberglass horse, "L 'Etalon Vert,'' which will be auctioned off for charity at the Equine Advocates Awards Dinner and Charity Auction on Aug. 12.
Peb will be honored for his contribution to the sport of Thoroughbred racing.
- additional reporting by Mike Welsch