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Saratoga: Pletcher sophomores breeze for upcoming stakes
By Mike Welsch
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Trainer Todd Pletcher had his arsenal of 3-year-old stars out for some work on a picture-perfect Sunday morning at Saratoga, a group that included Belmont Stakes and Jim Dandy winner Palace Malice, Haskell winner Verrazano, and the filly Princess of Sylmar, the winner of the Kentucky Oaks as well as the Coaching Club American Oaks here earlier in the meet.
It was ladies first for the Pletcher trio, with Princess of Sylmar the first to go. Working in company, Princess of Sylmar cruised away from the pole at little more than a gallop, barely shading 14 seconds for her opening furlong. She completed the final three furlongs of the 49.48-second half-mile breeze in 35.60 while well reserved throughout. She galloped out five furlongs to the mile pole in 1:01.65 while finishing about a head in front of her partner.
Palace Malice was the first of a steady stream of Pletcher-trained horses to work after the renovation break. Going solo, as has been the case since his victory in the Belmont, with regular exercise rider Jake Nelson aboard, Palace Malice breezed a very easy half-mile in 49.02.
He was followed by Verrazano, who went in company with Jack Milton, the team covering four furlongs in 49.05. Verrazano then galloped a couple of lengths clear of his stablemate into the turn, pulling up in 1:01.39 for five furlongs.
“I thought both Palace Malice and Verrazano worked very well,” Pletcher said. “Both indicated they came out of their last races in good shape.”
Pletcher said he was pretty much in maintenance mode with both colts leading up to their much-anticipated matchup along with Kentucky Derby winner Orb in the Grade 1 Travers on Aug. 24.
“We’re just looking for them to run back the way they’ve been running,” Pletcher said.
Pletcher was equally pleased with what he saw from Princess of Sylmar, who will be heavily favored to win the Grade 1 Alabama on Saturday.
“I thought she was very, very good,” Pletcher said. “Right now, we’re just trying to keep her where she is.”
Another Travers hopeful to work after the break Sunday was Moreno, who set the pace before finishing a tiring third behind Palace Malice in the Jim Dandy. Moreno strongly finished a six-furlong drill in 1:12.01 for trainer Eric Guillot.
Another main-track worker of note Sunday was Judy the Beauty, who is targeting the Grade 1 Ballerina on Aug. 23. Judy the Beauty was the first horse to work after the break and sizzled five furlongs in 58.22 with jockey Joel Rosario aboard before galloping out five-eighths in 1:11.47.
Activity over the Oklahoma training track and turf course was equally brisk Sunday. Royal Delta was the star attraction over the training surface, breezing a bullet half-mile in 47.48 in preparation for the Grade 1 Personal Ensign on Aug. 25.
Trainer Chad Brown sent out a quartet of his grass specialists over the Oklahoma turf, a group that included Big Blue Kitten, who will contest the Grade 1 Sword Dancer here Saturday. Big Blue Kitten went in company with the Arlington Million-bound Real Solution, the pair going five furlongs in 1:00.40.
Brown also breezed the team of Samitar and Dream Peace, the duo going an easy half-mile in 47.98.
“I thought all four horses worked well,” Brown said. “Real Solution is on target for the Arlington Million, and Big Blue Kitten is going to stay here for the Sword Dancer as long as it’s firm. I pre-entered Dream Peace for the Beverly D., and I think she’s 50-50. The weather is supposed to be dry at Arlington, and I was looking for soft turf out there if I was going to wheel her back in three weeks. Samitar is probable for the Ballston Spa.”
Rydilluc, who scratched out of Friday’s Hall of Fame Stakes after the race was taken off the grass, also worked over the Oklahoma turf Sunday, going a strong five furlongs in 59.66 over the firm course.
Palace Malice by 3 lengths over WTC and Moreno.
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