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Saratoga notes: Tightend Touchdown running on short rest in Fiddlers Patriot Stakes
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Going from a Grade 3 stakes worth $200,000 to a listed stakes worth half that amount would seem to be a significant drop in class. Not for Tightend Touchdown. Not at Saratoga.
Though he will not have to deal with the remarkably consistent Ben’s Cat, Tightend Touchdown will face several other tough customers in Sunday’s $100,000 Fiddlers Patriot at 5 1/2 furlongs on turf. Stakes winners Great Attack, Varsity, and Next Question, as well as in-form runners Longhunter, Spring to the Sky, and Strong Impact, make the Fiddlers Patriot a contentious heat.
Tightend Touchdown had reeled off four straight victories before getting upset in the Parx Dash as the 4-5 favorite on July 5.
“The turf was wet, and he prefers firm,” trainer Jason Servis said. “He ran huge. He spurted away, and I thought we were home, but that’s a nice horse that beat us.”
In addition to coming back in 16 days and carrying high weight of 124 pounds, Tightend Touchdown will have to deal with several other horses who had exhibited early speed, including Varsity, Next Question, and Doctor Chit.
That could set things up for either of the two Bruce Brown trainees, Spring to the Sky or Strong Impact.
Though Spring to the Sky still is eligible for a second-level allowance race condition, he has found a niche as a turf sprinter and put in a sensational workout at Belmont Park last Sunday when going a half-mile on turf in 47 seconds breezing.
“The 5 1/2 [furlongs] I love, and there’s enough speed where he’ll sit a little bit off it,” Brown said. “He’s got the outside post, and [jockey Jose Lezcano] can keep an eye on what everybody else is doing. He couldn’t be doing any better, really.”
Strong Impact defeated Spring to the Sky in a second-level allowance race at Belmont on June 19, but that race was at seven furlongs.
“I think he’s a little bit better at six or seven, though he has won here [at 5 1/2],” Brown said. “He’ll be further back than Spring to the Sky.”
Longhunter has won three straight since being claimed for $16,000 by trainer Mike Maker for Ken and Sarah Ramsey in April. He overcame a significant stumble at the start to win a starter handicap at Belmont on July 3.
Great Attack, a multiple stakes winner, makes his first start since finishing 11th in the Al Quoz Sprint in Dubai in March. He will break from post 11 under Joel Rosario.
New York-bred babies in spotlight
D. Wayne Lukas said the last New York-bred 2-year-old he had he shipped to Kiaran McLaughlin, and the horse won in his first time out.
On Sunday, in the first 2-year-old maiden race of the meet – this one restricted to New York-breds – Lukas will be represented by American Creed, a son of Quiet American whom Lukas bought at auction for $115,000 for owners Robert Baker and William Mack.
“I thought he was a nice-looking horse, regardless of the pedigree,” Lukas said. “He’s by Quiet American, who is actually a Kentucky sire. Baker and Mack are New Yorkers, so I thought I’d take a chance. He’s a nice colt, but I think he wants to go longer.”
American Creed has had a dozen workouts leading up to his debut, including a pair at five furlongs.
“He won’t be short,” Lukas said. “They’ll probably run away from him.”
Trainer Gary Contessa is high on his starter, Thug Daddy, a son of Scat Daddy, a $40,000 purchase as a 2-year-old in training. However, Contessa is 0 for 54 with first-time starters – though his 2-year-old J Quirk ran a good second Friday – since the beginning of 2012.
Contessa said he doesn’t believe in drilling his 2-year-olds to win first time out but said Thug Daddy “certainly strikes me as a horse that can win first time out. But this is Saratoga; there are so many good New York-breds out there. There are probably five other trainers saying, ‘This is a great spot for my horse.’ ”
Trainer Dale Romans has Tapidor, a $450,000 yearling purchase who is on the also-eligible list. Tapidor is a half-brother to the five-time New York-bred stakes winner Icabad Crane.
“He can really run,” Romans said. “I wanted to get in, but there’ll be another spot.”
Looking Cool breezes for Jim Dandy
On a hot Friday morning, Iowa Derby winner Looking Cool breezed four furlongs in 49.69 seconds over the main track in preparation for the Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy on July 27.
Looking Cool went his first quarter in 25.29 and his second in 24.40 while being urged by exercise rider Tracey Wilkes. Looking Cool is trained by Carl Nafgzer, but it is Nafzger’s former assistant, Ian Wilkes, who is overseeing the colt’s training.
“I was very pleased,” Ian Wilkes said. “He had good energy, he was willing finishing up and galloped out nice.”
Bradester almost ready to return
Trainer Eddie Kenneally thought he had a legitimate Kentucky Derby prospect this winter after Bradester opened his 3-year-old campaign with an impressive two-turn allowance victory on Jan. 1 at Gulfstream Park. But reality soon set in after when Kenneally was forced to stop on the son of Lion Heart, eventually sending him to the farm in early March along with another of his top 3-year-old prospects, Majestic Hussar.
Bradester is back in training at Saratoga and by all appearances looks about ready to resume his racing career after working five furlongs on Friday in 1:00.82 in company with trainer Gary Carwood’s Wild Target. The pair was quick early, posting a 34.70-second opening-three-eighths split before tiring slightly coming to the wire.
“We really thought he was going to be a top 3-year-old this winter at Gulfstream, but then he went on the shelf,” Kenneally said. “He’s trained well since we brought him back, and hopefully he’ll be able to make at least one start here sometime during the meet.”
Kenneally, whose undefeated Jake’s Magic Hat figures to be among the favorites in Sunday’s Grade 2 Sanford Stakes, has 25 horses stabled on the grounds. That group includes Burban, the runner-up in the Grade 1 Humana Distaff Stakes on Kentucky Derby Day, who will make her next start in the Grade 2 Honorable Miss on July 29.
◗ Declan’s Warrior, the winner of the Grade 3 Bay Shore and the runner-up in the Grade 2 Woody Stephens, worked four furlongs in 51.19 seconds in company over the training track Friday. He galloped out five furlongs in 1:04.16. Trainer Nick Zito, who said prior to the work that he wasn’t looking for a fast move, said Declan’s Warrior remains on schedule for the Grade 2, $200,000 Amsterdam Stakes here on July 28.
– additional reporting by Mike Welsch