08/29/2013 11:00PM

Saratoga: Frac Daddy back on short rest for Saranac


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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Trainer Ken McPeek will try to strike while the iron is hot when he wheels the Grade 1-placed Frac Daddy back on just one week’s rest in Sunday’s $150,000 Saranac at Saratoga.

Frac Daddy finished far back in both the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes after having run second during the spring in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby. Frac Daddy was freshened following the Belmont Stakes, then McPeek decided to give the son of Scat Daddy an opportunity to try turf. Facing allowance company for the first time while reuniting with his former rider David Cohen, Frac Daddy responded by rallying from just off the pace to a 1 1/4-length victory.

“Like any of them, you always want to at least try them on each surface,” said McPeek when asked about his decision to  put Frac Daddy on the grass after eight starts on dirt. “He’s always had a history of not liking dirt in his face and that’s a little problematic in races like the Derby. He’s a really talented horse and I was thrilled with his last race. I know it’s a wheel back quick, but he only had three works going into his last start and we were kind of using that as a prep for this one.”

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Frac Daddy will have to improve and do so quickly if he’s to beat the red-hot and versatile Notacatbutallama, who has won each of his last three starts, all stakes, including the Grade 3 Hill Prince on turf and the Grade 3 Hall of Fame over a sloppy track earlier in the meet.

“I think he’s just one of those horses that just loves running and he’ll do whatever you want,” said trainer Todd Pletcher. “He’s got tactical speed, but he’ll rate,. He’s learning how to finish off his races now, which he was still trying to figure out last year, so I don’t think distance is an issue for him. He’s his typical good-feeling, high-energy self so we’ll keep going.”

The speed-favoring turf course could enhance the chances of Five Iron, who ships off a pair of gate-to-wire stakes wins at Woodbine. He figures to be pressed early by Joha, who has finished second after setting the pace in each of his last two starts, both coming against stakes competition.

Samitar finds soft spot

Trainer Chad Brown has found what appears to be a pretty sweet spot for his Grade 1 winner Samitar in Saturday’s opening event, the $100,000 Speed Boat Stakes.

The 1 1/16-mile Speed Boat is written for fillies and mares who have not won a graded stakes this year. Samitar, who captured the Grade 1 Garden City in just her second start in the United States last fall, is already a stakes winner in 2013 having captured the restricted Fairy Garden at Belmont Park on July 4. Samitar is coming off a fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Diana on July 27.

“We took a shot in the Diana,” said Brown. “I thought she got a good trip and didn’t have any excuse in there. So we’ll drop her back in a listed stakes, like we did at Belmont, and if she can perform well in this race we’ll probably try her back in another graded stakes later in the year.”
Brown said his main concern in the Speed Boat is the speed-favoring turf course since Samitar does her best running from off the pace.
“It actually works both ways with her because she prefers firm ground,” said Brown. “On the other hand she does come from off the pace and this course does seem to be carrying the front-runners.”

Brown will also send out Deanallen’skitten.

“Deanallen’skitten has been real consistent for us. She’s almost always right there but had a horrendous trip in a three-other-than allowance race earlier in the meet,” said Brown. “I think with a better trip, she has a good chance as well.”

Samitar isn’t the only graded stakes winner in the lineup. Ruthenia was a Grade 3 winner last summer and also captured the Ms Liberty Stakes earlier this spring at Monmouth Park.

Baffle Me, a stakes winner at 3, set the pace before proving no match for Samitar in the Fairy Garden but would benefit if the course continues to favor speed.

– additional reporting by David Grening