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Turf experiment for Ready's Echo
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Having run third in the Peter Pan and the Belmont Stakes, Ready's Echo has already proven himself a quality horse. Trainer Todd Pletcher is hoping that a move to turf helps Ready's Echo become a top-quality animal.
Ready's Echo makes his first start since dead-heating for third with Anak Nakal in the Belmont Stakes in Sunday's Grade 3, $100,000 Saranac Stakes for 3-year-olds at 1 3/16 miles on Saratoga's Mellon turf course. It will be his first start on turf.
"We were pleased with the way he ran in the Belmont, we were also pleased with the way he ran in the Peter Pan, but we think if he is to move forward a little bit on the grass that might be the difference in him turning into a really nice horse," Pletcher said.
Following the Belmont, Pletcher had planned on running Ready's Echo in the Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs in July. But Ready's Echo suffered a foot abscess that forced him to miss a week of training. Pletcher felt the horse wasn't ready for either the Virginia Derby or the Hall of Fame Stakes here on Aug. 4.
Pletcher is hopeful Ready's Echo will take to the turf based on his pedigree and his late-closing running style, which he feels is more effective on the turf.
"Quite a few of the More Than Readys tend to take to the turf," Pletcher said. "He's out of a Kingmambo mare, which is added pedigree support. He seemed to work pretty well on it. His running style of wanting to settle and make a run also should [help him] like the turf."
Lukas first-timer pays $100
It doesn't seem possible that a debuting 2-year-old trained by D. Wayne Lukas could win and pay $100. But that's exactly what happened here Wednesday when Be Smart, a 2-year-old daughter of Smarty Jones, won the ninth race by 1 3/4 lengths at odds of 49-1.
Despite showing some decent workouts, Be Smart was sent off the second-longest shot in the 10-horse field.
"I think that might be a first," said Lukas, who, according to DRF Formulator stats, hadn't won with a debuting juvenile at Saratoga in at least the previous five meets.
Lukas said he did bet on the filly - he wouldn't reveal how much - but said he pulled back somewhat as he saw his filly's odds rise from 12-1 to 22-1 to 39-1 and onward. Lukas said he turned to a friend in his box and said, "Ruffian must be in this race."
On his way to saddling a horse for Wednesday's 10th race, Lukas did run into somebody who bet $51 on his horse. Lukas said that person gave him a big hug.
Lukas said that he will consider running Be Smart in either the Matron or Frizette at Belmont or the Alcibiades at Keeneland.
The emergence of Be Smart helps take the sting out of losing the 2-year-old filly Cameron Crazies for the rest of the year. Lukas said Cameron Crazies, runner-up to Jardin in the Schuylerville, was diagnosed with a chip in her knee. It has already been surgically removed, and Cameron Crazies will be off for 90 days and pointed to a 3-year-old campaign.
Bustin Stones returns to work tab
Bustin Stones, the undefeated New York-bred Grade 1-winning sprinter, worked four furlongs in 49.77 seconds Thursday morning as he prepares for a return to the races in the Grade 1 Vosburgh on Sept. 27 at Belmont Park.
Bustin Stones was forced to scratch out of the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap here on July 26 due to a bruised foot. He missed about two weeks of training before returning to the track on Aug. 9. Thursday was his first workout since July 19.
"He worked good, came back good, he just went an easy half," trainer Bruce Levine said. "He wasn't blowing that much, so that was good. We'll go from there and see if we can make the Vosburgh."
Bustin Stones has not run since winning the Grade 1 Carter Handicap in April. He was forced to miss the Metropolitan Handicap due to an illness.
Break Water Edison joins Hopeful cast
Break Water Edison, who finished a solid second to Run Away and Hide in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special on Aug. 14, blew out three furlongs in 36.04 seconds Friday and was declared a starter for Monday's Grade 1 Hopeful by trainer John Kimmel.
Though Break Water Edison will be running back on 17 days' rest, Kimmel believes the timing of this race will enable his horse get in a two-turn race over a synthetic surface in late September or early October.
"The horse is acting great, came out of his race in good order," said Kimmel, who won three races on Friday's Saratoga card. "Knowing whether or not he's going to bounce back and run the race that he did before, we're only going to know by running him, because he's not showing me any reasons why he wouldn't. I think it's a risk, but I think it might be a worthwhile risk being that it's a very prestigious Grade 1 race."
Break Water Edison took the worst of it in the Special when he was forced to go wide while Run Away and Hide slipped through on the rail.
Though Alan Garcia rode Break Water Edison in his first two starts, he had already taken a call to ride Vineyard Haven for Bobby Frankel, so Kimmel will need a new rider.
Run Away and Hide was not even nominated to the Hopeful as his connections are pointing to a two-turn race on a synthetic surface, most likely the Lane's End Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland.
The Hopeful field is expected to include Cognito, Cribnote, Desert Party, Medaglia D'Onore, Munnings, Notonthesamepage, Precious Package, and Vineyard Haven.
Fellow Crasher to miss Hopeful
Fellow Crasher, who beat Notonthesamepage in the Tyro Stakes at Monmouth Park, will be forced to miss the Hopeful due to an ankle injury, trainer Tony Dutrow said.
Dutrow said X-rays and an ultrasound did not reveal any serious problems.
"What he's got is no big deal," Dutrow said. "I'm just not comfortable running him in a race like the Hopeful."
Bittel Road grabs narrow win
Bittel Road outfinished Skipadate in the stretch to win Friday's $82,400 With Anticipation Stakes by a head. It was 1 1/2 lengths back to Herr Mozart, a first-time starter, in third.
The win was one of two on the day for Pletcher, who moved to within one victory of Kiaran McLaughlin, 16-15, in the battle for leading trainer at the meet. McLaughlin had no starters on Friday's card.
Under John Velazquez, Bittel Road was a stalking third behind Ninth Client and High Cry. Entering the far turn, Bittel Road found himself between Uncle T Seven and Double Domino. Turning for home, Uncle T Seven shot through an opening along the rail to take the lead, and Bittel Road followed him through that same opening.
Bittel Road tipped to the four-path while Skipadate, under Shaun Bridgmohan, split horses in the two-path in midstretch. The two hooked up inside the sixteenth pole, with Bittel Road able to get his head down on the wire first in yet another close finish in a stakes race.
Bittel Road, a son of Stormy Atlantic owned by James Scatuorchio and John Iracane, covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.30 and returned $4.20 as the even-money choice.
Cocoa Beach takes Love Sign
Cocoa Beach made a successful North American debut earlier on the card, taking the $91,950 Love Sign Stakes by five lengths over Striking Tomisue. It was 2 1/2 lengths back to Peach Flambe in third.
Cocoa Beach, a 4-year-old daughter of Doneraile Court, had won the UAE 1000 Guineas and the UAE Oaks earlier in the year in Dubai. She had not run since finishing third against the boys in the UAE Derby at Nad Al Sheba on March 28.
In the Love Sign, Cocoa Beach raced three wide down the backside under Ramon Dominguez, who didn't ask his filly to run until the three-sixteenths pole. Cocoa Beach, saddled by Godolphin Racing assistant trainer Rick Mettee, covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:51.50 and returned $3.20.