Sierra Leone returns to work tab at Saratoga
May 18, 2024
News Image
NYRA Photo

Sierra Leone returns to work tab at Saratoga

by NYRA Press Ofiice

  • Sierra Leone returns to work tab at Saratoga
  • Charlie Appleby-trained quartet on the work tab at Saratoga
  • G1 BC Classic-winner White Abarrio records bullet work
  • Alogon points to G1 Jaipur
  • Hades heading to G1 Haskell; Eamonn possible for G1 Jaipur
  • Dark Shift possible to return in G1 Jaipur

Multiple graded stakes-winner and Grade 1 Kentucky Derby runner-up Sierra Leone had his first work back since his effort in the “Run for the Roses” when covering a half-mile Saturday over Saratoga Race Course’s Oklahoma training track in company with Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby-winner Domestic Product.

NYRA clockers caught the pair in 48 and 1/5 seconds while trainer Chad Brown had them galloping out six furlongs in 1:14 and 4/5 seconds over the fast footing and under a light sprinkle of rain.

“I thought the horse worked super,” Brown said of Sierra Leone, who once again sported blinkers for his exercise. “I’m very, very pleased with him. He’s settled into Saratoga nicely.”

Sierra Leone, owned by Peter Brant, Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, Westerberg, and Brook Smith, was a hard-fought second to Mystik Dan in the Kentucky Derby when using his typical deep-closing tactics under jockey Tyler Gaffalione. The son of Gun Runner came from 12 lengths back to be two lengths off the lead in third at the top of the lane as Mystik Dan hugged the rail and Forever Young made his bid between his rivals.

The three dueled to the wire in a thrilling stretch drive that saw Forever Young and Sierra Leone brush with each other in the heat of battle with Mystik Dan fighting on valiantly along the inside. Sierra Leone got the better of Forever Young in the shadow of the wire, but came up a nose short of the victorious Mystik Dan in a dramatic photo finish.

“I’m just so proud of this horse. I didn’t really learn anything about him that I didn’t already know – the horse just always shows up and is a real warrior,” said Brown. “He had a challenging trip from where he was early. I’m really proud of his effort, it’s just a little disappointing that he came up just an inch short, but I’m so proud.”

Brown said Sierra Leone gave his all in defeat, and that he is not concerned with any drifting or bumping in the talented colt’s future races.

“I think he was just getting a bit tired in the stretch and those two horses were leaning on each other,” said Brown. “I’m turning the page on that. It’s just part of him.”

Sierra Leone, who won the Grade 1 Blue Grass two starts back at Keeneland, is pointing towards the Grade 1, $2 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets on June 8 at Saratoga Race Course.

Klaravich Stables’ Domestic Product also worked back for the first time since the Kentucky Derby, where he finished a troubled 13th after being bumped and pinched at the start and jostled in the final turn before putting in a mild bid with a nine-wide move.

Brown said the Practical Joke colt had clear excuses in the Derby.

“He had a rough trip. He lost a shoe and grabbed his quarter,” said Brown. “It’s healed up and is satisfactory. I have no immediate plans for this horse, and he is not under consideration for the Belmont. I’ll figure out what I want to do with him.”

On the May 4 Kentucky Derby card, Brown came out on the winning end of a tight photo finish in the Grade 1 Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic with Klaravich Stables’ multiple Grade 1-winner Program Trading, who returned from a five-month layoff to prevail by a head after a stretch duel with Naval Power.

“[He was impressive] off the layoff and got a good, ground-saving trip, too, which helped,” said Brown. “He hadn’t run all winter, but he’s back front and center again. Hopefully, he keeps on that consistent pattern he’s had really since we’ve had him.”

Program Trading, who won the Grade 1 Saratoga Derby Invitational and Grade 1 Hollywood Derby last year, also returned to the work tab Saturday in company with Grade 2-winner I’m Very Busy. The latter was seventh in the Turf Classic after being unsettled in the gate and coming up empty in the lane.

Brown said he expects both Program Trading and I’m Very Busy to start next in the Grade 1, $1 million Resorts World Casino Manhattan on the June 8 Belmont Stakes card at the Spa.

“Both horses are heading to the Manhattan,” said Brown. “I’m Very Busy didn’t handle the paddock well on Derby Day and he was not acting right. He stuck his foot in the hind portion of the gate and that race is a total throw-out for him.”

At Belmont Park, 2022 Grade 1 Champagne-winner Blazing Sevens worked Saturday over the dirt training track in preparation for the Grade 1, $1 million Hill ‘n’ Dale Metropolitan Handicap on June 8 at the Spa. The Good Magic dark bay covered a half-mile in 49 seconds flat in his third work since an impressive allowance-level score on April 20 at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Brown also noted Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks third-place finisher Regulatory Risk emerged from her effort in good order and is training forwardly towards the Grade 1, $500,000 DK Horse Acorn on June 8 at Saratoga.

Resolute Racing’s Sweet Rebecca was a strong winner of the Listed Memories of Silver on April 28 at Aqueduct, prompting Brown and owner John Stewart to consider a trip to Royal Ascot next for the daughter of American Pharoah. Brown said the chestnut is slated to work Sunday with a final decision on the trip overseas likely to be made Monday.


Charlie Appleby-trained quartet on the work tab at Saratoga

Trainer Charlie Appleby currently has seven Godolphin-owned horses stabled at their Greentree property in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. adjacent to Saratoga Race Course, including Silver Knott and Nations Pride who ran first and third, respectively, in the Grade 2 Man o’ War on May 11 at Belmont at the Big A.

While Silver Knott is not currently pointed to another race just yet, Nations Pride could come under consideration for the Grade 1, $1 million Resorts World Casino Manhattan, a 1 3/16-mile turf test for older horses on Belmont Stakes Day June 8 as part of the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival at Saratoga Race Course.

Also stabled upstate is multiple Group 1-winner Master of The Seas, who is targeting the Spa's Grade 1, $500,000 Fourstardave Handicap on August 10. The one-mile turf test for 3-year-olds and up offers a “Win and You’re In”’ berth to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Mile in November at Del Mar - a race Master of the Seas captured last year at Santa Anita Park.

Appleby’s traveling assistant Chris Connett oversaw four workers covering five furlongs this morning at the Oklahoma dirt training track with Legend of Time and Musical Act working in company in 1:05.82 along with solo efforts by English Rose [1:05.44] and Mischief Magic [1:05.65].

English Rose, a 4-year-old Frankel bay, won the nine-furlong Group 2 Balanchine in February at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai and followed last out with a close second in the 1 1/16-mile Grade 1 Jenny Wiley on April 13 at Keeneland.

“She ran a very encouraging race in her first start in America. She was always bound to come on from that experience wise,” Connett said. “She's been doing really well since and we're very fortunate to be training where we are, and she's settled into Greentree really well.

“She worked nicely this morning,” added Connett. “That's her first piece of work back since the Jenny Wiley, so it was an easy building piece and we're happy with how she went about it.”

English Rose could make her next start on June 7 during the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival with the one-mile Grade 1, $500,000 Just a Game and 1 3/16-mile Grade 1, $750,000 Grade 1 New York presented by Rivers Casino under consideration.

Mischief Magic, a 4-year-old Exceed and Excel gelding, was a last-to-first winner of the 2022 Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint at Keeneland. He added the Dubai Sprint to his ledger in February at Meydan and has made his last two outings in Grade 2 events in Kentucky, demonstrating his trademark late kick to finish second in the Shakertown in April at Keeneland and third in the Turf Sprint on Kentucky Derby Day May 4 at Churchill Downs.

“We were very pleased with his runs in Kentucky. He's shown he's up to top-level competition over here,” Connett said. “He's a closing sprinter and if the race falls right for him, he's going to be bang there. That's how he won at the Breeders’ Cup - from way off the pace - and he's always there knocking on the door.”

Mischief Magic is penciled in for the Grade 1, $500,000 Jaipur presented by Resolute Racing on Belmont Stakes Day at Saratoga. The 5 1/2-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and up offers a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint in November at Del Mar.

Connett said he was pleased with Saturday’s breeze from Mischief Magic.

“He went over the track nicely,” Connett said. “Richie Mullen was up on him - he rides him regularly and he was pleased with him.”

Legend of Time, a sophomore son of Sea The Stars, won a trio of starts at Meydan with William Buick aboard over the winter taking the seven-furlong Jumeirah Guineas Trial in January, the one-mile Jumeirah Guineas in February and the nine-furlong Jumeirah Classic in March. He was last seen finishing fifth after pressing the pace in the 1 1/16-mile Grade 2 American Turf on Kentucky Derby Day at Churchill.

“It was his first start in America and there was a lot going on that day at Churchill for our European horses to come over and deal with. He came out of the race well and worked well this morning,” Connett said.

Legend of Time is under consideration for the Grade 2, $200,000 Pennine Ridge, a nine-furlong test for sophomores on May 25 at Belmont at the Big A.

Musical Act, a 3-year-old Dark Angel grey, also contested the Jumeirah Guineas [7th] and Jumeirah Classic [2nd]. He made his U.S. debut with a prominent fifth in the 1 1/16-mile Grade 3 Transylvania on April 5 at Keeneland.

“He's come out of the race well and will come on for the experience of racing in America,” Connett said. “Charlie's still coming up with a gameplan for him.”

Appleby is expected to ship over a fleet of nine additional horses later this month to prepare for starts at the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival. Among those expected on the flight are multiple Group/Graded stakes-winner Siskany, who will attempt to defend his title in the two-mile Grade 2 Belmont Gold Cup which now offers a ‘Golden Ticket’ for an automatic berth into the Group 1, AUD$8.4 million Lexus Melbourne Cup on November 5 at Flemington Racecourse in Victoria, Australia.

Connett has fond memories of being in Australia in 2019 with the Appleby-trained Cross Counter, who successfully captured ‘the race that stops a nation™.’

“I traveled with Cross Counter when he won it. I've been in the right place at the right time a few times,” Connett said, with a laugh. “I would put the experience on a par with Derby Day here just with how busy and how amped up the crowd is. It's the one race I watch back still and get goosebumps from.”


G1 BC Classic-winner White Abarrio records bullet work

White Abarrio, winner of last year’s Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park and Grade 1 Whitney at Saratoga Race Course, breezed a bullet half-mile Friday in 47.58 seconds over the Belmont Park dirt training track.

Trained by Rick Dutrow, Jr., the 5-year-old son of Race Day has breezed about weekly at Belmont since April 6 after returning from an off-the-board effort in the Grade 1 Saudi Cup in February at King Abdulaziz Racecourse.

Friday morning, under jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., White Abarrio completed a sharp 47.58 half-mile, which was the quickest of 90 works at the distance.

“All reports were good. We’re very happy with him,” said Dutrow, Jr. regarding the feedback from regular pilot Ortiz, Jr. “He’s doing very well.”

Dutrow, Jr. confirmed that White Abarrio worked solo and completed the work well within himself. Graded stakes-winning stablemate Repo Rocks breezed a half-mile solo in 48 flat, second fastest of 90 behind White Abarrio.

“Both of them were very comfortable. They both went very good,” Dutrow, Jr. said. “The same way they’ve always been, very good.”

Prince Faisal Bin Khaled Bin A/Aziz’s White Abarrio is on track for another try at the Grade 1, $1 million Hill ‘n’ Dale Metropolitan Handicap on June 8 Belmont Stakes Day at Saratoga Race Course, a race he finished third in last year at Belmont Park in his first start for Dutrow, Jr. after being transferred from the barn of Saffie Joseph, Jr.

The Metropolitan Handicap is a “Win And You’re In” qualifier offering an automatic entry into the Grade 1, $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile in November at Del Mar.

Bred in Kentucky by Spendthrift Farm, White Abarrio has banked $5,146,350 in total purse earnings through a 16-7-1-3 record. The $40,000 purchase at the OBS March Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training is out of the Into Mischief mare Catching Diamonds, a half-sister to dual Group 3-winner Cool Cowboy and Downside Scenario, dam of graded stakes-winner and second-year sire Mutasaabeq.

Double B Racing Stables’ Repo Rocks, winner of last year’s Grade 3 Toboggan and Westchester when in the care of Jamie Ness, ran third in his first start since June in a local seven-furlong optional claimer on May 3.

“He’s been doing well since he came to me,” said Dutrow, Jr. “We’re very happy with him and he breezed good, but you know I also considered the track was quick enough. These are two very nice horses. It all looked very, very comfortable to me.”

Dutrow, Jr. said no plans have been made yet for the 6-year-old Tapiture gelding after his first effort off the layoff.

Bred in Virginia by Mrs. C. Oliver Iselin III, Repo Rocks, out of the Not For Love mare Hawaiian Love, boasts a record of 37-9-7-7 for purse earnings of $815,971.


Alogon points to G1 Jaipur

Trainer Ned Allard is hoping to take on the top flight with Charles Matses’ Kentucky homebred Alogon in the Grade 1, $500,000 Jaipur presented by Resolute Racing on Belmont Stakes Day June 8 at Saratoga Race Course.

The 5 1/2-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and up offers a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint in November at Del Mar.

The 5-year-old California Chrome gelding finished third last-out when making his seasonal debut in the six-furlong Listed Elusive Quality on May 4 over the firm Aqueduct outer turf.

He traveled in sixth position early in the nine-horse field before coming with a wide bid in the turn and appearing poised to go by the pacesetting Dancing Buck, who had enough in reserve to fend off his challenge, emerging a 1 3/4-length victor. American Monarch rallied late to earn place-honors by a half-length.

“I thought he ran super. I thought he was going to be a winner at the eighth pole,” Allard said. “It was a very good effort and he came out of it super. I’m going to point him to the Jaipur.”

The effort was awarded a 92 Beyer Speed Figure, a strong number off a layoff dating to a third in the Aqueduct Turf Sprint Championship in November when beaten 2 3/4-lengths by six-furlong course record holder Nothing Better.

“I thought that was a very good effort [off the layoff]. I think his next start he will improve on that,” Allard said. “If he does, he could be very dangerous.”

The Beyer was his best since a 99 earned when nailed at the wire by Nobals for a head defeat in the Da Hoss in September at Colonial Downs. The latter exited the race to win the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint in November at Santa Anita Park.

Allard said that in hindsight it appears Alogon, who won the 5 1/2-furlong Wolf Hill over the eight-time winner Witty in July at Monmouth Park, has been ultra-competitive with the best of the division.

“Watching the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, when it was all said and done, that puts him in another league,” Allard said. “Well, I’m sure hoping so.”

Out of the Scat Daddy mare Scamper, Alogon’s second dam is the Allard-trained stakes-winning Eltish mare Shananies Song, who produced multiple group-winner Mouheeb along with the graded-stakes winner Favorable Outcome and graded-stakes placed Bellamentary and Beguine.

Allard is also looking forward to today’s graded stakes action with Beguine in the Grade 3, $175,000 Vagrancy, a 6 1/2-furlong sprint for older fillies and mares, at Belmont at the Big A.

A Kentucky homebred for Charles Matses, the 5-year-old Gun Runner chestnut has been tabbed as a 2-1 morning line favorite in her return from a six-month layoff dating to a fourth-place result in the local Grade 2 Gallant Bloom at Saturday’s distance here in October. The effort concluded a 2-for-4 campaign that featured a win in the Alma North going 6 1/2 furlongs in July at Laurel Park and a 9 3/4-length local allowance victory in her seasonal bow in May.

Beguine has trained extensively at Delaware Park since March 30 to prepare for her return, most recently covering three furlongs in 38 seconds flat on May 14.

“She’s been training super. I only got to run her four times last year. She’s had a few minor issues here and there, but she’s been doing dynamite training,” Allard said. “I’m really excited about running her.”

Allard said that while graded stakes attempts may have been too ambitious of a step up in class last year even after the allowance coup – she also finished fifth in the Grade 2 Bed o' Roses here in June – she now seems ready for the challenge.

“We had a muddy track that day [of her allowance win] and it may have helped. If we end up on a little mud Saturday, I wouldn’t be scratching. That is for sure,” said Allard. “She’s been training very well. I feel good about her return. I think we’ll have some fun with her this year.”

Beguine, out of the aforementioned Shananies Song, had a strong start to her career when narrowly missing the gate of the 2022 Kentucky Oaks after a neck runner-up in the Grade 3 Fantasy in April 2022 at Oaklawn Park following a third-out graduation for previous trainer Daniel Peitz.


Hades heading to G1 Haskell; Eamonn possible for G1 Jaipur

D.J. Stable and Robert Cotran’s graded stakes-winner Hades is likely to make his next two starts at Monmouth Park with an eye towards the Grade 1, $1 million NYRA Bets Haskell traveling nine furlongs on July 20.

Trained by Joe Orseno, the Awesome Slew sophomore won his first three starts, all at Gulfstream Park, in impressive fashion culminating in a win in the 1 1/16-mile Grade 3 Holy Bull where he bested next-out graded stakes-winners Domestic Product and Fierceness.

Hades finished a distant fifth in the Grade 1 Florida Derby won by Fierceness and followed with a seventh-place finish in the Grade 3 Lexington on April 13 at Keeneland.

“We found he had a little minor problem that we had to correct and give him a little time. I'd like to be in the Preakness but we're doing the right thing,” Orseno said.

Orseno said Hades will train towards the 1 1/16-mile Listed $150,000 Pegasus on June 15 at Monmouth, the local prep for the lucrative Haskell.

“I'm getting him ready for the prep to the Haskell and if he handles that there's a chance he'll show up at Saratoga,” Orseno said.

Robert Cotran’s Eamonn could make his next start in the Grade 1, $500,000 Jaipur presented by Resolute Racing on Belmont Stakes Day June 8 at Saratoga Race Course. The 5 1/2-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and up offers a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint in November at Del Mar.

The 6-year-old Pioneerof the Nile horse has banked $405,952 through a 32-7-6-3 record. He won the Select last year at Monmouth traveling 5 1/2-furlongs over firm turf and completed the trifecta in a trio of stakes to launch his current campaign, including a close third in the Grade 2 Shakertown going 5 1/2-furlongs over good going on April 6 at Keeneland. He was last seen finish sixth after exiting post 12-of-14 in the Grade 2 Turf Sprint on Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.

“He's doing great. We're talking about running him it the Jaipur at Saratoga. He always shows up,” Orseno said.

Orseno said the late-running Eamonn would have preferred the extra half-furlong offered when the Jaipur is contested at Belmont Park.

“He shipped to Monmouth and we'll train him there,” Orseno said. “I'm a little disappointed it's not at Belmont where it was a little further distance for him, but as long as he has good pace to run at, we're OK. He doesn’t like a soft turf, but other than that he always tries.”

Mattingly will go to bat for Orseno in Sunday’s Listed $150,000 Paradise Creek, a six-furlong outer turf sprint for sophomores. The Bucchero colt, who will exit post 3 under Trevor McCarthy, captured the Hollywood Beach in September over the Gulfstream synthetic.

Orseno said the versatile Mattingly will race rain or shine.


Dark Shift possible to return in G1 Jaipur

Talented British-bred Dark Shift is working his way back to the races and eyeing a possible start in the Grade 1, $500,000 Jaipur presented by Resolute Racing on Belmont Stakes Day June 8 at Saratoga Race Course. The 5 1/2-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and up offers a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint in November at Del Mar.

Trained by Conor Murphy for his Riverside Bloodstock and Craycroft Racing, the 6-year-old Dark Angel horse has won 6-of-14 starts and was last seen finishing a pacesetting fifth in the Grade 3 Thunder Road last February at Santa Anita when one length back of the victorious Earls Rock. The strong effort, in which he broke slow before setting sharp splits, earned a 92 Beyer Speed Figure.

Dark Shift made his first 12 starts in England for trainer Charles Hills, including a pair of one-mile scores at Ascot.

“We might look at the Jaipur,” Murphy said. “He’s more of a miler, but off the layoff he's a very feel-good horse and I’d be afraid first off going a mile he might be too fresh but we'll see. He had a nasty quarter crack last year and it took a bit of time to heal up, so we've taken our time to get him back. He’s a very exciting horse.”

Murphy said Dark Shift would also be considered for the Grade 2, $200,000 Highlander, a six-furlong turf sprint for older horses on June 29 at Woodbine.

Double O Racing’s graded stakes-winner Foreign Relations is being given some time before preparing for a summer campaign that could include a start in the 11-furlong Grade 2, $250,000 Bowling Green on July 28 at Saratoga Race Course.

The 6-year-old Karakontie gelding won the 12-furlong Grade 3 Louisville last May at Churchill Downs and has made his last two starts with runner-up efforts in 12-furlong allowance tilts at Keeneland, missing by a nose to graded stakes-placed Nineeleventurbo in October and by 5 3/4-lengths in April to recent Grade 2 Man o’ War runner-up Ohana Honor.

“He had a minor setback and he's going to have an easy 30 days. We’ll look at Saratoga for his next start,” Murphy said. “Hopefully, he’ll be back on the work tab in another month. He's another horse we're looking forward to.”

Murphy will look to open his New York stakes account for the season when he saddles Sketch in Sunday’s Listed $150,000 Paradise Creek, a six-furlong outer turf sprint for sophomores.

Listed as the 5-2 morning-line favorite, Sketch will exit post 4 under Flavien Prat.

All News Stakes Advance Stakes Recap Headlines Notes Features

More Notes