07/23/2011 1:16PM

Saratoga: Friend or Foe using Shipman as a confidence builder

Barbara D. Livingston
Friend or Foe, will be using Monday's Evan Shipman as a stepping-stone to more important stakes down the road.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Trainer John Kimmel has big plans for his New York-bred colt Friend or Foe this fall, and he wants to have the horse as prepared as possible to tackle a schedule he hopes will include the Woodward, Jockey Club Gold Cup, and the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

After running a lifetime best number on some speed figures off a six-month layoff in a June 5 overnight stakes at Belmont Park, Kimmel opted to skip running Friend or Foe back in a graded event and instead will drop him into Monday’s $75,000 Evan Shipman Stakes restricted to New York-breds at Saratoga. Friend or Foe, a son of Friends Lake, is 3 for 3 against New York-breds.

After ending his 3-year-old season with a win in the Empire Classic for New York-breds and a fifth-place finish in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile, Friend or Foe took a little longer than expected to get ready for his 4-year-old season. That, plus the fact Kimmel couldn’t get the race he wanted to go, delayed Friend or Foe’s return until June 5 when he outlasted Grade 1 winner Rail Trip in the four-horse Easy Goer Stakes.

Off that race, the Whitney here on Aug. 6, was a possibility for Friend or Foe, but Kimmel noted that Friend or Foe has yet to win around two turns and felt the Evan Shipman was a better spot to get that accomplished.

“We were trying to find a spot where we could get a good two-turn race into him and get him some confidence in running two turns,” Kimmel said. “The timing was right, we figured we could get a fairly comfortable group of horses to run against with the idea that we could come back in five weeks and run in the Woodward [Sept. 3].”

Friend or Foe will be coupled with Mine Over Matter as both are owned by Chester and Mary Broman.

Trainer Dominic Galluscio entered both Johannesburg Smile and Stormy’s Majesty in the Evan Shipman, but will only run Stormy’s Majesty as Johannesburg Smile ran here on Saturday. Stormy’s Majesty is 5 for 6 versus New York-breds, including a neck victory in the Albany Stakes here at 1 1/8 miles last summer. Stormy’s Majesty also won the Grade 3 Discovery last fall at Aqueduct, another two-turn 1  1/8-mile race.

Stormy’s Majesty is coming back 18 days after running fourth in a turf stakes in which he set the pace after breaking from the rail. The relatively short turnaround time doesn’t bother Galluscio.

“That horse eats so good and is so strong, I don’t think that’s going to compromise him,” said Galluscio, who believes his horse will be forwardly placed.

Icabad Crane was beaten a head in this race last year by Giant Moon while finishing a head in front of Groomedforvictory. He has won his last two starts versus statebreds and comes out of a last-place finish in the Grade 2 Suburban at Belmont on July 2.

Saratoga opener beats the heat

While it was hot on opening-day, Saratoga enjoyed a strong opening-day businesswise

A crowd of 25,155 wagered $3,551,745 on Friday’s 10-race card, a 13.4 percent increase over last year’s handle of $3,130,756. An additional $407,383 was wagered at Belmont Park and Aqueduct, which were both open for simulcasting. The attendance figure was up 8.5 percent from 2010 when 23,178 showed up on a wet day.

All-sources handle, which includes wagers made from all simulcast outlets, was $15,871,449, up 18.5 percent from the $13,349,050 wagered last year. Saratoga may have benefitted from the cancellation of live racing at several tracks in the Northeast due to extreme weather, including Monmouth Park.