08/12/2013 2:10PM

Saratoga: Strong Impact out for second stakes win of meet in Troy

Barbara D. Livingston
Strong Impact wins the Fiddlers Patriot, earning a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 100.

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – While wine usually gets better with age, racehorses generally do not, especially those who have already passed their sixth and seventh birthdays. One exception to that rule is Strong Impact, a 7-year-old gelding who is currently in the best form of his career.

Strong Impact will attempt to extend his winning streak to three and capture his second stakes of the meeting when he takes on seven rivals in the $100,000 Troy Stakes, the 5 1/2-furlong turf dash serving as the co-feature on Wednesday’s 10-race program at Saratoga.

Strong Impact earned a 100 Beyer Speed Figure, the highest in his 34-race career, after rallying to a three-quarter-length victory over Tightend Touchdown in the Fiddlers Patriot here July 21, a race decided under the same conditions as the Troy. Strong Impact, a son of A. P Jet trained by Bruce Brown for the La Marca Stable, rallied from near the rear of the pack to overtake the leaders in late stretch to win for the second time in less than five weeks. He also rallied from off the pace to defeat mid-level optional-claiming competition going 7 1/2 furlongs at Belmont Park on June 19.

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“I don’t know how to explain it, but he’s amazing, each year he just seems to be getting a little better, and he’s never been as good as he is right now,” Brown said. “He had a really good work down there [Belmont] before his last win, and he had a really good work inside the dogs over here at Oklahoma before this one. I don’t think 5 1/2 furlongs is necessarily his best distance, he’s probably best at six or seven, but up here that’s the only game in town, and he just loves it at Saratoga.”

Although Strong Impact came from nearly seven lengths off the pace to win the Fiddlers Patriot, Brown doesn’t expect him to be as far back in the Troy.

“There was a lot of pace in that last race, but he’s pretty handy. He doesn’t really need a fast pace to win, and from an outside post this time, I expect him to be a little closer,” Brown said. “The key is getting a good, clean trip in these types of races.”

Alex Solis, who guided Strong Impact to victory in the Fiddlers Patriot, will be entrusted to get the veteran another good trip Wednesday.

Varsity will have the opportunity to avenge his recent third-place finish at the hands of Strong Impact when they meet again in the Troy. Varsity hesitated at the break, raced forwardly, and could not kick on with the winner in the pair’s previous encounter, finishing 1 1/4 lengths back while suffering his third consecutive setback since capturing the Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint with a career-best 105 Beyer during the winter.

The well-traveled Great Mills should prove the one to catch when he returns to Saratoga for the first time since winning the Quick Call Stakes in his only previous start over the local course two years ago. Great Mills has not run since winning a high-priced optional claimer going 6 1/2 furlongs down the hill at Santa Anita in January. That has been his only appearance since finishing fourth in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.

Hogy will make his first start since moving into the barn of trainer Wayne Catalano earlier this summer. Hogy, a Grade 3 winner, could not quite overcome a slow beginning when he was beaten a head by Saint Leon in the Arlington Park Sprint seven weeks earlier.

Smash,Tripski, Hear the Footsteps, and Mop Head complete the lineup. Leave the Absence also was entered for the main track only.