07/21/2012 2:58PM

Saratoga: Lunar Victory resumes career in Evan Shipman Stakes on Monday


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Lunar Victory appeared to be a New York-bred on the rise this winter, until a bleeding episode short-circuited his season back in March.

After a bit of a freshening, Lunar Victory will seek to pick up where he left off Monday when he returns to New York-bred competition in the $100,000 Evan Shipman Stakes at Saratoga. The Evan Shipman, run at 1 1/8 miles, is the feature on a 10-race card that brings the first week of the Saratoga meeting to a close.

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Lunar Victory, a Juddmonte Farms-owned, Bill Mott-trained son of Speightstown, reeled off three consecutive victories over Aqueduct’s inner track during the winter. He bled through Lasix, however, when he won an open-company allowance race by two lengths on March 3.

Given two months off on the farm, Lunar Victory has five works leading up to the Evan Shipman, including a bullet half-mile move in 47.84 seconds over the Oklahoma training track on Thursday.

“It’s all about fitness,” Mott said. “Had he had a race 30 days ago. I’d feel really good about it, but we’re coming off a layoff. He’s had a few decent works, we just hope it’s enough.”

Though he has not run beyond a mile and 70 yards in the United States, Lunar Victory won at 1 1/4 miles, albeit on turf, in Europe.

“I don’t think distance is an issue,” said Mott, who will have Junior Alvarado up from post 7.

Last year, trainer Dominic Galluscio suffered a brutal beat in the Evan Shipman when his Stormy’s Majesty got caught on the wire by Icabad Crane.

Monday, Galluscio sends out Johannesburg Smile in the Evan Shipman, hoping for a different type of photo finish.

Johannesburg Smile has finished in the top three in 18 of 22 starts and is coming off a front-running victory in a one-mile overnight stakes against open company on June 17.

“The horse is very sharp right now,” Galluscio said. “Possible that was a tougher race than this is.”

Johannesburg Smile has finished third in both of his starts at 1 1/8 miles, including to Stormy’s Majesty in the 2010 Albany.

“He ran a good Beyer [93] at a mile and an eighth,” Galluscio said.

As Stormy’s Majesty was the horse to catch in last year’s Evan Shipman, Johannesburg Smile could be the main speed under Cornelio Velasquez on Monday.

Fiddlers Afleet won the 2009 Albany over this track and that year’s Oklahoma Derby. He enters off a good-looking, 7 1/4-length victory in a six-furlong overnight stakes at Belmont just 17 days ago. He gets the services of Javier Castellano, as David Cohen is committed to ride Sailmate, a winner of four of his last five for trainer John Kimmel.

Good Karma, Pure Attitude, and Mineswept complete the field.

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