BIG CLOSING WEEK AT SARATOGA
A huge closing week of racing will take place at Saratoga, with a total of five Grade 1 tilts to be held over the Holiday Weekend. The $750,000 Woodward S. (G1) is the most lucrative event here, and four-year-old filly standout Havre de Grace will tackle the boys in hopes of bolstering her chances at winning Horse of the Year honors. Trained by Larry Jones, the daughter of Saint Liam has never been worse than third and has won three straight, with her lone setback coming by a jump to champion Blind Luck. The Kentucky-bred was a close second in the Alabama S. (G1) here last summer in her lone local try, and would not surprise facing males.
Grade 2 hero Rule was a sharp and game winner of the Birdstone S. in advance of this and hopes to give trainer Todd Pletcher yet another graded win at this meeting. The son of Roman Ruler has very good early speed and should be in the mix from the opening bell on this day. Mission Impazible, also for Pletcher, didn’t fire in the Whitney S. (G1) but is clearly capable of better.
Jackson Bend was a good-looking winner of the James Marvin S. leading up to this and is worth a look at what should be a big price for conditioner Nick Zito. Multiple Grade 1 winner Giant Oak has a big turn of foot and had a nice prep when third against a speed bias in the Whitney for conditioner Chris Block. If Suburban H. (G2) winner and Whitney runner-up Flat Out runs here, we think he’ll be the one to beat for Charles Dickey. The son of Flatter has blossomed into one of the top handicap runners in the country. Convocation was an easy allowance winner last time and could be a sneaky player in this spot for Jimmy Jerkens.
The return of champion sprinter Big Drama headlines the field in the $300,000 Forego S. (G1). Trained by David Fawkes, the five-year-old son of Montbrook hasn’t raced since January but has trained very well leading up to this and is more than capable of running big when fresh.
Grade 2 victor Aikenite had a prep for this and could improve in a big way over an oval he has run well on in the past for Pletcher. Godolphin’s Regal Ransom and Bank Merger both figure in this one for Saeed bin Suroor. The form is a multiple Grade 2 winner who should benefit from the cutback in trip, while the latter should benefit from a fast early pace.
Cigar Mile (G1) winner Jersey Town had a good prep when second at Monmouth and looms a chance for Barclay Tagg. Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) runner-up Hamazing Destiny and Vanderbilt (G1) third Calibrachoa also have a shot in here.
The $300,000 Personal Ensign S. (G1) has been rescheduled for Sunday, with Ruffian H. (G1) upsetter Ask the Moon leading the way. The Marty Wolfson pupil ran the best race of her life last time and will be tough to handle with a repeat of her latest endeavor.
Ruffian runner-up Super Espresso, Ruffian third Tiz Miz Sue, the well-bred Acronym, smart allowance hero Protesting and Grade 3 queen Pachattack, comprise the field.
Among the top draws in the $250,000 Hopeful S. (G1) on Monday include Secret Circle, Space Traveler, Scallion, Big Blue Nation, Brigand, Currency Swap and Hunt Crossing.
The top juvenile fillies on the grounds will try to add a Grade 1 score to their resumes in the $250,000 Spinaway S. (G1). Schuylerville S. (G1) one-two-three finishers Georgie’s Angel, True Feelings, and Force de la Nature, will obviously have a say in the outcome. Smart debut winners And Why Not, Select Cat, Candrea, Grace Hall, and Matron S. (G2) vixen Millionreasonswhy, could make the leap with improvement.