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Saratoga: Full looks ready for stakes challenge
By Mike Welsch
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – A pair of Kentucky invaders, Full and Manly, have come to New York for the summer where they will square off as the likely favorites in Thursday’s $100,000 Quick Call Stakes at Saratoga. In addition to the Quick Call, a 5 1/2-furlong turf sprint for 3-year-olds, the 10-race program will also feature the first hurdle race of the meet, the $75,000 Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes.
Full has shown to be a talented turf and Polytrack runner in his short career, which began over the main track here one year ago. Full, a Claiborne Farm homebred by More Than Ready, finished a tiring fifth in his debut but came back in his next start to defeat maiden special weight opposition over the artificial surface at Keeneland. Trainer Al Stall Jr. had to give Full nearly eight months off after that victory, bringing him back this spring at Churchill Downs, where he posted a win and a second in his first two starts on grass.
“He didn’t pull up properly after the race at Keeneland,” said Stall. “We couldn’t find anything specifically wrong, but his feet aren’t so good, so we just gave him the winter off. He’s a small, beautiful little horse, a stocky, sprinter-looking type and a real bulldog. He’s by More Than Ready, so with the combination of his pedigree and feet issues, turf and Poly seem to be his lick, although we’ll run him Thursday if the race is rained off the grass.”
Stall said Full’s last race, when he was defeated a half-length by Jasizzle at Churchill Downs on June 29, is better than it looks on paper. The race was marred when the leader crashed into the inner rail near midstretch.
“He got shuffled back early, had a shoe pinched off somewhere along the way,” said Stall, continuing that “then the whole race got a little crazy” when the lead horse hit the rail.
“I like the outside post he’s got Thursday,” Stall said. “He’s a handy horse and with [Joel] Rosario aboard I expect him to be close throughout. We’re really excited about running him.”
Manly was claimed for $50,000 by trainer Mike Maker in the interest of owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey this spring at Churchill, and he returned quick dividends by winning two races on grass within a 14-day span. Manly rallied from mid-pack on both occasions, with the 87 Beyer Speed Figure he earned for defeating first-level allowance competition on June 30 the highest posted on grass by any member of the Quick Call field.
The well-travelled Gentleman’s Code, who won his maiden at 2 in England, looks like the horse to catch. Gentleman’s Code enters the race riding a three-race winning streak dating back to a high-level conditioned claiming tally over the Keeneland Polytrack on April 6. Gentlemans’ Code has not started since leading throughout to defeat entry-level allowance rivals on the grass at Arlington Park seven weeks ago.
Trainer George Weaver will send out a pair of contenders in the Quick Call, Richmond County and Partly Mocha.
Richmond County finished well in front of Gentleman’s Code when the pair met under allowance conditions at Gulfstream earlier this season and shortens up in distance after being outrun in a seven-furlong overnight stakes at Belmont Park on May 20. Partly Mocha steps up in company after rallying to an easy conditioned claiming win facing older horses for the first time last month at Belmont.
Capetown Devil and Artest could be sleepers. Capetown Devil returns to allowance company after taking on stakes opposition in his last two tries. Capetown Devil will make his first start since joining trainer Robert Hess Jr.’s barn this spring and has been working well for his return. Artest wheels back on short rest and turns back to a sprint. He set the early pace before getting shuffled back during the middle stages of a one-mile optional claiming race on opening day.
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