Graded Stakes Quartet Highlights Spa Weekend

A quartet of graded races take place over the weekend at Saratoga Race Course. Friday kicks off the action with a good group of sophomore turf runners in the $200,000 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame S. (G2). Graded winner Bobby’s Kitten was unplaced last out in the Belmont Derby (G1), but the son of Kitten’s Joy has a world of talent, a ton of speed, and broke his maiden in fine fashion last year on the Saratoga lawn. He might be the one to catch for trainer Chad Brown.

Bashart bagged the With Anticipation S. (G2) here last summer and could be live second time off the layoff for conditioner Christophe Clement. Can’thelpbelieving was a stylish allowance winner here in preparation for this; the Graham Motion trainee might be improving as much as any in the field going forward. Expect the bay colt to be heard from in the stretch. Recent Delaware stakes winner Craftsman, Grade 3 winner Gala Award, Manila S. runner-up Long on Value, So Lonesome, third in the Manila, and Smooth Daddy, who makes his stakes debut here, add to the cast.

Saturday will play host to the $500,000 Fourstardave H. (G2) on the green and a stong line up is coming together. Juddmonte homebred Seek Again, a Grade 1 winner who has knocked heads with some of the better turf players in the U. S. since coming over looks the one to beat for trainer Bill Mott. The four-year-old colt comes off a third in the Manhattan (G1) and will be a huge factor with something close to his best.

Grade 1 winner Silver Max could be the main challenger to the likely favorite. The Dale Romans pupil has a world of early foot and was a Grade 2 winner on this course last campaign. The five-year-old is in fine form following a facile win in the Firecracker (G2) and will be tough if left alone early. Multiple stakes winner Big Screen didn’t fire last time but was a good second in the Poker (G3) two back and could be a sleeper for Tom Albertrani. Poker (G3) victor Jack Milton, who was a solid fifth against better in the Shoemaker (G1) at Santa Anita last time, looks all set for his local debut. King Edward S. (Can-G2) star Grand Arch and Forbidden Apple S. winner Sayaad are also likely for this test.

Sunday, the  $200,000 Saratoga Special S. (G2) will showcase some of the fleetest juveniles on the grounds. Todd Pletcher’s Nonna’s Boy burned some money when finishing fourth in the Sanford S. (G2) here as the favorite but he still remains the one to beat in our view. The son of Distorted Humor, who cruised home in his debut at 1-10 odds, surely has room for growth and might end up being best of this bunch.

Mr Z just missed when a troubled second in the Sanford S. (G2) and will be very tough with any type of improvement for D. Wayne Lukas. The chestnut son of Malibu Moon was a fine debut winner at Churchill and handled this oval quite well last time. Blame Jim was sharp in his first run while well backed on this surface and gives Pletcher a second chance in this dash. The son of Sharp Humor could be a pace player if nothing else.

Cleveland Sound didn’t earn a huge speed number when winning at Delaware but Graham Motion is always dangerous at The Spa and moves his horses up after they get one under their belt. I Spent It was very game at first asking at Belmont and could be the one for skilled juvenile conditioner Tony Dutrow. The son of precocious young sire Super Saver comes in fresh and exits a heat that had some interesting prospects. Texas stakes winner W V Jetsetter and Tizcano, a nice debut winner at Gulfstream for David Jacobson, also look likely.

A trio of superb debut winners will take aim on the $200,000 Adirondack S. (G2) on Sunday, for juvenile fillies. Wonder Gal showed up in a stakes race at first call and romped home an odds-on winner by more than 14 lengths. The dark bay by Tiz Wonderful overcame a poor break to dust her foes, and while she faces open company for the first time, we can’t deny that ability.

Cavorting rolled home an 11-length heroine at first asking at Belmont and the Kiaran McLaughlin trainee could be the real deal. The well-bred filly by Bernardini has trained well in advance of this and could be any kind. Angela Renee looked the part for Pletcher in her first effort and this outfit is always especially dangerous with juveniles and this meet, especially in the stakes ranks.

Also likely are Schuylerville (G2) second Take Charge Brandi, Bret Calhoun’s fleet Texas import Vivian Da Bling, James Toner’s debut winner Phoenix Park and Florida speedster Coco Wildcat.