Kentucky Derby hero Super Saver will make his anticipated return for trainer Todd Pletcher in leading the G1 $1 million Haskell Invitational Stakes at Monmouth Park on Sunday. The son of Maria’s Mon, who was unplaced in the Preakness Stakes in his last try, and reportedly been doing superbly leading up to this and will have Calvin Borel back for another go.
Preakness winner and champion Lookin at Lucky has been freshened since his run at Pimlico in May and could actually go off favored in this fine field. The son of Smart Strike would be no surprise for conditioner Bob Baffert. Preakness second First Dude and the exciting Trappe Shot add a ton of class to this Jersey Shore feature.
There are seven stakes races in total at Monmouth on Sunday; including the $200,000 Oceanport S. (G3), $200,000 Matchmaker s. (G3), $150,000 Jersey Derby, $150,000 Majestic Light S., $150,000 Regret S. and $150,000 Teddy Drone S.
STARS ALIGNING AT THE SPA
Belmont Stakes runner-up Fly Down drew widest of the nine in the deep, G2 $500,000 Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga this Saturday. The Nick Zito pupil has really come to hand as of late, including a romp in the G2 Dwyer Stakes two back which preceded his fine Belmont try. The peaking son of Mineshaft sizzled a bullet half-mile in advance of this and could be the one to beat with pilot Jose Lezcano.
G3 Holy Bull Stakes victor Winslow Homer was a flat third in the G2 Iowa Derby last out but surely needed that one for conditioner Tony Dutrow. The gray son of Unbridled’s Song was a facile maiden winner here and has trained well in readying for this test. Unbeaten Empire State-bred Friend or Foe, G2 Louisiana Derby runner-up A Little Warm, Grade 1-placed Aikenite, G3 Pegasus Stakes star Afleet Express, and perhaps the most intriguing horse in the field, Euro import Steinbeck, all deserve some respect here.
The G1 $500,000 Diana Stakes drew a sublime field of seven, including two-time defending champ Forever Together. Trained by Jonathan Sheppard, the ever-consistent daughter of Belong to Me hasn’t visited the winners’ circle since bagging this event last summer, but she hasn’t finished worse than third in five starts since, either. The gray might even offer some value in this other worldly affair with Julien Leparoux up.
Proviso has stormed to a pair of Grade 1 wins in succession and is at the top of her game for conditioner Bill Mott. The Juddmonte homebred drew the rail with Mike Smith. G1 Just A Game Stakes runner-up Phola has soared to new heights this campaign and should be flying home late for Todd Pletcher. The daughter of Johannesburg worked a strong half-mile leading into this. G3 Beaugay Stakes romper Dynaslew, Just A Game third My Princess Jess, recent G3 All Along Stakes queen Shared Account and multiple stakes heroine Maram, who is prefect from two starts locally, completes the order of the field.
The Sunday headliner at Saratoga is the G1 $250,000 Ruffian Invitational Stakes.
BAFFERT LOADED FOR KEY PACIFIC CLASSIC PREP
Trainer Bob Baffert has a trio of top players lined up for Saturday’s G2 $250,000 San Diego Handicap at Del Mar. This key G1 Pacific Classic prep drew a top field of ten, but it is likely Baffert will have the final say in this one. Of the trio, reigning Pacific Classic winner Richard’s Kid could be the one most fear. The late bloomer has really taken to synthetics and loves this oval. Russell Baze will inherit the mount. Dual Grade 3 victor Mythical Power and recent G1 Triple Bend Handicap second Sangaree give the silver-haired conditioner a formidable trio.
Grade 1 runner-up Tres Borrachos, sharp allowance hero Red Eye Express, turf stalwart Battle of Hastings and the consistent Dakota Phone also deserve note in this solid field.
The following day’s headliner is the G1 $250,000 Bing Crosby Stakes.