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Top 2-year-olds to go on display
For those who breed and buy young horses, there is no place like Saratoga to showcase a talented runner.
"That's the place you want to be, that's the place you want to showcase one," said Buzz Chace, a bloodstock agent who buys horses for approximately 15 clients, many of whom will be participating at Saratoga.
Chace's clients have horses with trainers such as Todd Pletcher and Scott Blasi - who has taken over for the suspended Steve Asmussen - whose barns are among the best at producing good 2-year-olds.
Pletcher has already won 21 2-year-old races this year - with 16 different horses - and calls this year's crop "the deepest group we've had, for sure."
Pletcher will showcase at least one of his top colts, Scat Daddy, in Thursday's Sanford Stakes. Scat Daddy, a son of Johannesburg, won a maiden race by 5 1/4 lengths in the mud on June 3. Pletcher may also run Soaring By, a son of Deputy Minister who won his debut by five lengths on July 4, earning a gaudy 99 Beyer Speed Figure. Out of Gwedda, who won the Tremont, is being pointed to the Saratoga Special on Aug. 17.
Despite his early success with his babies, Pletcher has plenty more where those came from, and said he should be represented in each maiden race for males. Bullara, second in two maiden races at Churchill, and such unstarted horses as Turbulent Storm - a half-brother to champion Ashado - Pavarotti, Cowtown Cat, and Point Blake could start at the meet. Then there is The Green Monkey, the Forestry colt who sold for a world-record $16 million at the Fasig-Tipton sale in Florida in February. Pletcher anticipates him starting toward the middle part of the meet.
"I'm not saying he has to win first time out, but I'm going to play it extra careful. I'm going to make sure he's as ready as I can get him, then it's going to be on him," Pletcher said. "Every once in a while you'll run one and think, 'Maybe if I had one or two more works he'd be dead on, but go ahead and run.' I'm not going to do that with him."
Asmussen and Blasi have teamed to win 36 2-year-old races this year from 137 starters. Their top 2-year-old filly, Richwoman, won the Debutante at Churchill Downs on July 8 and will likely run in the Adirondack or Spinaway. Angel Island and Appealing Zophie both won maiden races at Keeneland on April 20 and will be factors at this meet. Angel Island is entered in Wednesday's Schuylerville.
Among the colts, Blasi will send out War Wolf in Thursday's Sanford. Chace City, who won a stakes at Woodbine and was compromised by a poor break when sixth in the Bashford Manor, is being pointed to the Saratoga Special. De Lucia, a Songandaprayer colt, and Garfinie, a $1.8 million son of Belong To Me, are unstarted maidens to look out for either at Saratoga or at Belmont.
There are plenty of other outfits that figure to be active in juvenile races this summer.
Sheikh Mohammed's Darley Stable has had a number of 2-year-olds ready to run at the meet. Among them is Media City, trained by Eoin Harty who looks like he's been working steadily for his debut, which will come in Wednesday's fifth race. Other ones trained by Harty that bear watching include Incriminate, a $1.5 million colt who is a full brother to Value Plus; Imperial Reign, a son of Indian Charlie who shows two bullet gate works; and Maxey Boy, who finished second to the Pletcher-trained Air Lord in a rapidly run maiden race on July 13.
Tom Albertrani, who also trains for Darley, has an A. P. Indy colt named Marina Market, an unnamed Awesome Again colt and an unnamed Orientate filly that should run at Saratoga.
Richard Dutrow Jr. sent out the good-looking New York-bred Alright Now at the end of the Belmont meet, but said that he may back off that horse and pinfire his shins. Dutrow said he has the best crop of 2-year-olds he's ever had, but many of them won't make the meet.
Among the ones he is looking forward to running are Pacific Sun, who drew the outside post in Wednesday's fifth race, Golden Age, a son of Seeing the Gold and Silver Fountain, a filly who has been working well at Aqueduct.
John Ward, who sent out Dr. Pleasure to a debut win at the meet last year, has a number of babies that he's looking forward to running toward the end of Saratoga. True Competitor, a son of Point Given; Torini, a product of Monarchos and Darling My Darling; Pegasus Power, a son of Fusaichi Pegasus; and Causeway Lady, a daughter of Giant's Causeway are among his best.
Bobby Frankel unleashed one of the more impressive juvenile winners of the Belmont meet when he sent out Le Grande Trois to a nine-length victory on Thursday. Frankel said that horse came out of his race with a shin issue and won't run at the Spa. However, Frankel plans to run First Offense, a son of Unbridled's Song out of the Grade 1-winning mare Honest Lady on Saturday.
"He might want to go a little farther," Frankel said, "but he's a runner."
Another Frankel 2-year-old to watch for is Cherokee Flare, a half-brother to Latent Heat by Cherokee Run.
Nick Zito usually unleashes a runner or two at Saratoga. He is high on colts Righteous, a son of Pulpit, and C.P. West, a son of Came Home. Zito calls The Luckiest, a filly who is half sister to the stakes winning Hook and Ladder, "one of the best fillies I've had."
Shug McGaughey sends out debut runner-up Consecration in Wednesday's first baby race of the meet. Later he'll send out well-bred runners Inquisitive, Sightseeing, and Foolish Bid, a half-brother to Survivalist.
Allen Jerkens is likely to be active later in the meet with the likes of Blue Bullet, a half-brother to Kelly Kip who in his first recorded work, breezed a bullet half-mile in 47.65 seconds. Mr. Greeley progeny Red Greeley and Jed Greeley also might run at the meet. Motor West is a New York-bred colt and a half-brother to five-time winner Banker's Heiress.
Trainer Linda Rice has a history of winning 2-year-old races at the Spa. She is high on a pair of New York-breds, Huge City, a son of three-time Saratoga stakes winner City Zip, and Avhee's Destiny, a New York-bred filly.