08/05/2011 3:06PM

Saratoga: Trappe Shot at perfect distance in Vanderbilt

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Barbara D. Livingston
Trappe Shot, with John Velazquez riding, wins the six-furlong True North.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – At this time last year, the connections of Trappe Shot were painstakingly trying to determine if their best chance to win a Grade 1 race was going long or short. Though their choice of the Travers seemed to make sense – he did go off the favorite in the race – it turned out to be the wrong move, as Trappe Shot finished ninth of 10 in the 1 1/4-mile race.

On Sunday at Saratoga, Trappe Shot will again try to record his first Grade 1 victory, and there will be no debate that he is in the right spot when he heads a field of eight entered in the $250,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap at six furlongs.

Trappe Shot, a son of Tapit, is 3 for 3 at six furlongs, including an 8 1/2-length romp in the Grade 2 True North Handicap at Belmont Park on June 11.

“He’s best between six and eight furlongs,” said Kiaran McLaughlin, who trains Trappe Shot for the Brady family’s Mill House. “We have a lot of options going forward. This race is beautiful timing, the distance and it’s a Grade 1.”

McLaughlin also loves Trappe Shot’s outside draw for the Vanderbilt, in part because the horse has a history of breaking poorly.

“He’s been known not to break great. The ground breaks out from under him, so hopefully that doesn’t happen to him, but if it does we’re out in the clear, so we won’t get bounced around on the inside,” McLaughlin said.

The outside draw also gives jockey John Velazquez a good view of what is happening inside of him.

Atta Boy Roy, Hamazing Destiny and Sean Avery could play out as the primary speed horses in the race.

Atta Boy Roy comes off a third-place finish in the Iowa Sprint Handicap at Prairie Meadows on June 24. Trainer Valerie Lund said her horse did not get over the surface at Prairie Meadows too well, but she’s been pleased with how the 6-year-old ridgling has trained here.

Hamazing Destiny, second in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint last year, comes off a second-place finish to Jackson Bend in the James Marvin Stakes here on opening day. While trainer D. Wayne Lukas said he wished he had more time between races, he likes the cutback to six furlongs, a distance at which Hamazing Destiny has recorded 3 of his 4 career victories.

Apriority will be making his first start since getting beat a nose by Aikenite in the Churchill Downs Sprint on May 7. Before that, he finished second to Morning Line in the Grade 1 Carter at Aqueduct. Trainer David Fawkes said Apriority lost a little training time due to a bruised foot but said “it’s time to run.”

Bank Merger is a potential upset candidate for Godolphin Stable. A 4-year-old son of Consolidator, Bank Merger has four wins and a second to Discreetly Mine in last year’s Grade 1 King’s Bishop from five career starts in North America. His two worst races came over the synthetic surface at Meydan in Dubai. In his last start, he won a third-level allowance race by six lengths at Belmont.

“It’s obviously a tough race, but off his last race he at least deserves a chance against these horses,” said Rick Mettee, the North American-based trainer for Godolphin Stable.

Noble’s Promise, who won the Grade 3 Aristides at Churchill in June, and Calibrachoa, who won the Grade 3 Tom Fool at Aqueduct in March, complete the field.

The Vanderbilt and the Grade 2 Honorable Miss will be shown live on the cable network Versus in a one-hour broadcast that begins at 5 p.m. Eastern.