07/18/2012 2:52PM

Saratoga: Pletcher, Brown and Mott loaded with 2-year-olds

Barbara D. Livingston
The filly Can't Explain will represent trainer Todd Pletcher in Friday's Schuylerville at Saratoga.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – While there will be 54 stakes races run here this meet, not all will have the anticipation that comes with virtually every 2-year-old maiden race run at Saratoga.

The potential unveiling of racing’s next star is the backbone of each Saratoga summer, and this year there could be more 2-year-old races than in years past.

The New York Racing Association recently announced that all 2-year-old maiden dirt sprints at Saratoga will be limited to eight starters, creating the likelihood that on many days a maiden race will be split into two divisions. Friday is a perfect example as a maiden race for 2-year-old fillies drew enough entries to have two eight-horse fields plus one also-eligible in each division.

Whenever trainer Todd Pletcher is asked about his prospects for a successful Saratoga, he always says it depends how well his 2-year-olds perform. Since he has won the training title seven of the last 10 years, those performances have been pretty good.

This year’s crop has gotten off to an exceptional start. From his first 19 juvenile starters, Pletcher has 9 wins and 8 seconds.

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Can’t Explain, a 4 1/2-length maiden winner in her second start, will run in Friday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Schuylerville.

On Sunday, Pletcher will send out debut winners Rose Junction and Onetwentyeight in the Grade 2, $200,000 Sanford for colts and geldings.

Shanghai Bobby, a son of Harlan’s Holiday who is 2 for 2, and Drum Roll, who overcame a slow start to win a maiden race at Monmouth, are being pointed to the Grade 2, $200,000 Saratoga Special on Aug. 12.

But wait, there’s more. Plenty more. Pletcher has an army of maidens led by Palace Malice, who was second to Carried Interest in the most visually impressive maiden race run at Belmont Park.

Among the horses Pletcher has yet to start are Oldwick, a son of Street Boss who fetched $825,000 at auction, and Well Lawyered, a half-brother to the Grade 1 winner Drill by Lawyer Ron.

M Six is a New York-bred colt out of the four-time graded-stakes-winning turf mare J’ray. Interestingly, Pletcher said the horse has handled dirt extremely well in his training. Archwarrior and Charming Kitten, a half-brother to Queen’splatekitten, bear watching.

In the filly division, Pletcher has already won with I am Discreet and run second with Sweet N Discreet.

His unstarted juvenile fillies include Dreaming of Julia, who is by A.P. Indy out of the Grade 1 Test winner Dream Rush.

“Very solid so far,” Pletcher said of Dreaming of Julia. “She’s a couple of works away; an A.P. Indy with some speed on the bottom side. Nice filly.”

Mercellina d’Oro, and Citizen Emma are likely to show up on the turf.

Chad Brown has yet to start a 2-year-old this year, but he has a deep group, many of whom he feels will be better with the longer distance races typically run later in the meet.

“This group of horses I have from top to bottom, I can’t be positive of all their quality yet, but they look like they were sent to me with the future in mind,” Brown said. “Not many overly precocious get-what-you-can-early types were sent to me and I’m fine with that.”

Among the colts Brown is high on are Bakken, a son of Distorted Humor and a half-brother to Chace City, who won the Saratoga Special here in 2006. Brown said he believes Air Squadron, All That, and Favor Factor could be true distance horses. Brown likes Balance the Books on the turf.

Among his filly prospects are Fame and Fortune, whose dam, Stop Traffic, won eight stakes, including the Grade 1 Ballerina, and Ostourah, a full sister to the multiple graded stakes winner Trinniberg. J’esprit and private purchase Watsdachances are other fillies Brown hopes to run at the meet.

In the New York-bred division, Brown said he believes he has runners in Neck of the Moon, Bourbon Twist, and Heart of New York.

Bill Mott is another who has littered the Saratoga work tab with 2-year-olds, with no fewer than 36 showing works at Saratoga. He has welcomed Claiborne Farm back to his barn and that outfit has sent him some babies, including Apex, a son of Dynaformer out of the debut-winning mare Enth, and Squeal, a Tiznow filly out of the second-out-winning mare Yell.

Among the juvenile prospects that have shown Mott some early speed in the morning are Boston Proper, a son of Speightstown, and Endorphins Fly, a son of Distorted Humor out of the Grade 1 Diana winner My Typhoon.

Mott, like Brown, said he believes he has 2-year-olds that will prefer longer distances.

In Bold Dance, Mott has a half-brother to 2005 Horse of the Year Saint Liam. In King of Broadway, Mott has a Sky Mesa colt out of a dam, Broadway Express, who is a half-sister to Belmont and Travers runner-up Vision and Verse.

“If you look at my pedigrees the majority of them [want] a little further,” Mott said.

Tapicat is a daughter of Tapit out of a mare who is a half to Grade 1 winner Pohave. She brought $725,000 at action.

The colts Pagets, New Line, and Fire Guard, as well as the fillies Flotilla and Emollient are Juddmonte Farms homebreds.

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin has some well-bred 2-year-olds for Darley Stable that include North Slope, a son of Elusive Quality who looked very good in a recent gate workout at Belmont Park. His second dam is the champion Ajina.

“He’s training very well. When he gets started I’m not sure, but he will start in the first book,” McLaughlin said.

Art Scene, a daughter A.P. Indy out of the Grade 1-winning mare Musical Chimes “appears to be a nice one,” McLaughlin said.

Irsaal is a More Than Ready colt that McLaughlin trains for Shadwell Stable.

Trainer Rick Violette has sent out arguably the best-looking juvenile prospect seen in New York this year in Carried Interest, who beat the Pletcher-trained Palace Malice. He is being pointed to the Saratoga Special on Aug. 12.

Violette said he believes he has a fairly deep group of 2-year-olds and starts the filly Lenderoflastresort in Friday’s fifth and the colt Spurious Precision on Saturday. Later in the meet, look for the Freud filly Effie Trinket as one he expects to perform well.

“She has done everything right and very professional and has a bright future,” Violette said.