07/29/2010 1:16PM

Sensational Slam appears formidable in Woodbine's Vandal


ETOBICOKE, Ontario – The Saratoga-based Sensational Slam made quite a splash when he debuted at Woodbine earlier this month, winning the $152,800 Clarendon Stakes in a lackadaisical manner. Sensational Slam figures to be the prohibitive favorite when he returns here Saturday in the $150,000 Vandal, a six-furlong stakes for Ontario-foaled 2-year-olds.

Sensational Slam, trained by Todd Pletcher, was a $240,000 2-year-old purchase by celebrity chef Bobby Flay. He was favored against Ontario-breds July 3 in the 5 1/2-furlong Clarendon, which he won by a neck after closing from a stalking position on a speed-conducive track. He was awarded a 72 Beyer Figure that day.

Jockey Patrick Husbands said after the Clarendon that Sensational Slam ran lethargically.

“My agent told me that Todd said the horse is very lazy, but he can run,” said Husbands. “He really showed me he’s a lazy horse. He left a step slow, and I had to ride him. He was gaining, but gaining slowly. He won the race on his wrong lead, but he’s a pretty nice baby, and he has the breeding.”

Ice Danger defeated $40,000 maidens in his only outing July 16. He broke a tad slowly in that five-furlong sprint before rallying from mid-pack to prevail by three-quarters of a length. His time of 58.74 seconds translated into a 52 Beyer.

“He loves a challenge,” said trainer Sam DiPasquale. “Once he got his neck in front, he was quite comfortable finishing the race that way.”

DiPasquale said Ice Danger was difficult to deal with before he started.

“He’s been a bit of a problem horse,” DiPasquale recalled. “He had a bit of an attitude, but that one race really got his confidence going. He’s gone forward the last few weeks. We’re quite pleased with him. I think he’s going to be anywhere from a six-furlong to a mile-and-a-sixteenth horse.”

Quintana graduated second-time out in front-running style July 11, in a five-furlong maiden special for Ontario-sired stock, earning a 61 Beyer.

“He’ll run better than last time,” trainer Reade Baker said. “I just don’t know if that will be good enough.”

Invitation Only, one of six maidens in the nine-horse field, wound up second behind Quintana in his only outing.

Invitation Only is a half-brother to champion turf female Inish Glora, who is the dam of the lone filly in the field, outsider Lassair.