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Saratoga: Brei, Zito using familiar playbook with Fort Loudon
By Mike Welsch
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – A year ago, owner-breeder Fred Brei sent his homebred Jackson Bend from Calder to trainer Nick Zito at Saratoga to win a pair of sprint stakes, including the Grade 1 Forego. On Sunday, Brei and Zito will attempt to use a similar modus operandi with Fort Loudon to win the Grade 2 Amsterdam, an important stepping-stone to the Grade 1 King’s Bishop at the end of the meet.
A field of seven 3-year-olds was entered for the 6 1/2-furlong Amsterdam, with Currency Swap likely to be the post-time favorite. Currency Swap will be making his first start at Saratoga since capturing the Grade 1 Hopeful here last September. The remainder of the Amsterdan lineup comprises West Coast invader Gun Boat, Unbridled’s Note, Laurie’s Rocket, Politicallycorrect, and Doctor Chit.
Polticiallycorrect also was entered for Friday’s Curlin. Trainer Wesley Ward said he would discuss both races with owner Ken Ramsey on Thursday evening before deciding which direction to go this weekend with Politicallycorrect.
Fort Loudon will be returning on three weeks’ rest in the Amsterdam. The son of Awesome of Course is coming off the best race of his career, a neck decision over the multiple-graded-stakes-winning sprinter and odds-on favorite Trinniberg in Calder’s Grade 3 Carry Back for which he earned a 103 Beyer Speed Figure. Fernando Jara, a one-time regular on the New York circuit who now calls Calder home, will return to Saratoga to take his regular seat aboard Fort Loudon in the Amsterdam.
“Fred said Fernando knows the horse and deserves the chance to ride him again in this race,” Zito said about the decision not to reach out for a local rider for Fort Loudon in the Amsterdan.
Currency Swap is back doing what he does best – sprinting – and figures to be part of an honest early pace Sunday whichj also may include the red-hot Doctor Chit.
Gun Boat, like Fort Loudon, ships in off the best performance of his short career, a 2 1/2-length allowance win at Hollywood Park on July 7.
Cease stays perfect on local track
Cease continued to show his affinity for the local surface when rallying to victory over a strong field of high-priced optional claiming horses Wednesday. He paid $5.60.
The win was the third in as many starts at Saratoga for the Claiborne Farm homebred, who won a pair of races here last summer. Wednesday’s race and his two wins last year all came at 1 1/8 miles.
“That’s a horse for a course,” trainer Al Stall Jr. said following Cease’s triumph. “We had that in the back of our mind after we tried a few different races. We freshened him up and we knew we had this last condition. It filled, and everything fell right into place.”
Cease, who closed his 2011 campaign finishing fifth in the 1 1/2-mile Breeders’ Cup Marathon, tried Polytrack and grass in his two previous starts, both of which came against Grade 3 competition.
“It took us two three-turn races to figure out he didn’t like three turns, and we also tried the Louisville Handicap, and he just didn’t stay,” Stall said. “Maybe being by War Chant limits his distance capability. He’s a two-turn, mile-and-an-eighth, mile-and-a-quarter horse.”
Stall has not settled on where Cease might run next, but alluded to the Grade 1 Woodward.
“There’s one obvious race at the end of the meet, but that’s not even on the radar,” Stall said. “It’s early, we’ve got five more weeks, so hopefully we’ll get to run him back somewhere here before we leave.”
◗ Demonstrative captured the first hurdle race of the meet Thursday when rallying to a two-length decision under jockey Robert Walsh in the $75,000 Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes. Demonstrative, who is trained by Richard Valentine, finished second as the 8-5 favorite in the 2011 Kiser Novice, but returned a generous $32.20 after recording his first victory in nearly 13 months.
As much as we like Nick Zito, Stanley Gold deserves a call here for getting not only Fort Loudon but Jackson Bend thru the terrible twos and up to the big leagues as well.
- 1.Posted 12/11/2013 03:00PM
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