A Thread of Blue works for Jockey Club Derby; Romantic Pursuit on target for Oaks
by NYRA Press Office
- Forewarned returns for G1 Woodward presented by NYRA Bets
- Klein hoping Break Even's undefeated streak stays alive in G2 Prioress
- Get Explicit returns for G2 Glens Falls
- Gargan hopes to keep good momentum into Belmont; Reflects on Divine Miss Grey
- Into Mischief well represented in G1 Spinaway
- Tagg considering options for Grand Prix American Jockey Club Invitational
- Rookie Report: Four maiden races on deck for Saturday
Leonard C. Green's A Thread of Blue took another step toward a start in the inaugural running of the $1 million Jockey Club Derby on Friday morning with a half-mile breeze over the Saratoga main track in 48.74 seconds, the seventh fastest of 45 recorded works at the distance.
The Jockey Club Derby is the third and final leg of the newly minted "Turf Trinity" which also included the Grade 1 Belmont Derby Invitational and the Saratoga Derby Invitational, the latter of which was won by A Thread of Blue last out.
Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, the sophomore son of Hard Spun scored his third stakes victory in the Saratoga Derby, which came after a disappointing fourth in the Grade 3 Penn Mile in June. Earlier in the year, he was a dual stakes winner at Gulfstream Park when taking the Dania Beach and Grade 3 Palm Beach over the South Florida turf.
The Jockey Club Derby, a Breeders' Cup "Win & You're In" event offering a berth in the Breeders' Cup Turf in November at Santa Anita Park, will be a stretch out in distance for A Thread of Blue, who has never gone the 1 1/2-mile distance.
"He worked well," McLaughlin said. "It's same as usual. He's flying and doing fabulous. We're real excited about him. The mile and a half is a bit of a question mark, but it was a question mark last time and he did it the right way. We hope that all goes well."
Bred in Kentucky by Flaxman Holdings Limited, A Thread of Blue is out of the dual grouped stakes winner Enthused. He was purchased for $430,000 from the Ocala Breeders Sales Company's 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale last March.
McLaughlin also will send out Romantic Pursuit for her stakes debut in the inaugural $750,000 Jockey Club Oaks Invitational - the female counterpart to the Jockey Club Derby that is run at 1 3/8 miles and is the final leg of the "Turf Tiara", which also consists of the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks and Saratoga Oaks. The first two were won by Concrete Rose, who has been sidelined the remainder of the year due to a hairline fracture.
Owned by Godolphin, Romantic Pursuit graduated at sixth asking over the inner turf at Belmont Park going a mile-and-a-quarter and went on to defeat elders in her next start at Saratoga going an extra eighth of a mile.
"It's a move up, but we like the distance," McLaughlin said. "She beat three and up last time and this is straight three-year-old fillies. We're looking forward to her running a big race."
Romantic Pursuit is a bay daughter of Medaglia d'Oro out of dual Grade 1 winner and 2012 Champion 3-Year-Old Filly Questing, who also was owned by Godolphin and trained by McLaughlin.
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Forewarned returns for G1 Woodward presented by NYRA Bets
Forewarned, owned and trained by Uriah St. Lewis, has demonstrated an affinity to winning with a record of 6-4-0 from 18 starts.
In August, St. Lewis entered the 4-year-old Flat Out bay, whose only previous stakes win came in a 16-1 upset of the Daniel Stearns Cleveland Gold Cup last June at Thistledown, in the Grade 1 Whitney.
Sent to post at odds of 89-1 in the Whitney, Forewarned was carried seven-wide in sixth position by new pilot John Bisono en route to a fifth-place finish.
The Whitney effort was Forewarned's second race back off a nine-week layoff and St. Lewis said the colt may have needed the experience.
"I think he needed a race," said St. Lewis. "He hadn't raced for a couple of months and you can work a horse 20 times, and it's never as good as a race. He had a decent race in the Whitney and I think he'll be much better this time as he'll have had a race over the track and he's been training fantastic."
Forewarned stumbled and fell in the gallop out of the Whitney, unseating his rider, but both athletes walked off under their own power.
"He was okay after that. He's a big horse and when the jockey pulled him up they both went down, but they both got up and everything was good," St. Lewis said.
Forewarned has worked twice at Parx since the Whitney showing good energy, including a bullet five furlongs in 1:00.08 on August 17.
"He works by himself," said St. Lewis. "If he worked in company, he would go too fast. If we put him with another horse, he thinks it's a race and will go much faster and we don't want that."
Jockey Anthony Salgado, aboard Forewarned for a pair of wins earlier this year, will be reunited with the bay in the Woodward. The veteran rider will be in search of his first win at Saratoga, having finished sixth in a claiming tilt at the Spa in 2017 in his only previous start.
"We decided to bring back the guy that rides him and wins with him all the time," said St. Lewis.
St. Lewis said he will let Salgado decide the best trip for the bay as he looks to close ground on fellow Whitney runners Yoshida [2nd], Vino Rosso (3rd], and Preservationist [4th].
"Salgado knows him well so he'll break him and put him in a position that he thinks he has the best shot," said St. Lewis. "The other horses - Vino Rosso and Preservationist - only beat him three lengths total in the Whitney. I think we can improve off that and beat those horses. And if we can beat them, I think we can win the race."
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Klein hoping Break Even's undefeated streak stays alive in G2 Prioress
Owners dream of having a horse that is as well-rounded, consistent and competitive at a high level as Break Even. For Louisville, Kentucky native Richard Klein, such dreams are a reality.
The homebred Country Day dark bay sophomore, trained by Brad Cox, is perfect through six starts and will attempt to keep the dream alive in Saturday's Grade 2, $250,000 Prioress at Saratoga Race Course.
"It appears that looking at her past performances that she's very versatile and that she'll run on anything at any distance," Klein said. "On paper we'll be the favorite, but I'm always worried about anyone in the race because anyone can win on any given day.
"From the reports I'm getting she's put on more weight and has been training great," added Klein. "We've had her up there since last Tuesday and Brad's assistant [Dustin Dugas] said she couldn't be doing any better. As long as she gets the clean break and runs her race, she'll be right there near the front end. This is a new venture running her on the dirt at Saratoga."
Break Even already has "stakes winner at Saratoga" checked off the list with a one-length victory in the Coronation Cup over the Mellon Turf Course last month. The win was her first start on grass, which came two starts after winning her graded stakes debut in the Grade 2 Eight Belles at Churchill Downs.
The hopes were high even prior to her debut on New Year's Day where she romped over a sloppy main track at Fair Grounds by five lengths.
"I know when Brad had her at Ellis [last summer], his assistant said she showed some promise. Her mind was great," Klein said. "Being by Country Day, we were thinking she would be a grass horse, and she really loved the slop that day [at Fair Grounds]. She won impressively the second time and from there, she's just been in the right spots."
A win in the Prioress would also be a big victory for sire Country Day, who also was campaigned by Klein.
"He was a horse that we bred out of our good mare [graded stakes winner] Hidden Assets, who has had nothing but winners," Klein said. "Country Day won stakes on three different surfaces. I always wanted to make him a stallion because he's by Speightstown. He's named after the school my two kids went to [Kentucky Country Day]. Everyone always associated the horse with us."
Country Day currently stands for $2,000 at Peach Lane Farms in Louisiana. He is a half sibling to stakes winners Cash Control, Cash Back and Good Deed, all of which were owned by Klein.
Shaun Bridgmohan, the pilot of five of Break Even's six career starts, has the mount.
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Get Explicit returns for G2 Glens Falls
Eleanor and Neil McIntyre's Get Explicit, a 4-year-old Get Stormy chestnut, finished second by three-quarters of a length to Fools Gold last out in her Saratoga debut in the Grade 3 Waya.
Trained by Barb Minshall, Get Explicit, with returning pilot Ricardo Santana, Jr, will look to turn the tables on Fools Gold in Saturday's Grade 2, $250,000 Glens Falls, a 1 3/8-mile turf route for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up.
"I've always liked this filly," said Minshall. "She's had some really good runs in her life and can really get a distance of ground. She ran a great race in the Waya and came out of the race great and has really strong breezes since. She seems stronger and even more ready to run this time around."
Get Explicit graduated at second asking on the Woodbine green in June 2018 and ended her nine-race sophomore season with a pair of runner-up efforts in the Grade 3 Valley View at Keeneland and the Grade 2 Mrs. Revere, also with Santana, Jr. up, at Churchill Downs.
In the Waya, Get Explicit rated last of six before outkicking the favored Glens Falls rival Santa Monica for place.
"She can be very aggressive in her races. Ricardo rode her once for me at Churchill [in the Mrs. Revere] last fall and she relaxed really nicely for him," said Minshall. "He said she relaxed perfect for him last time as well. If she can get in behind horses and stalk the pace a bit, she'll really drop the bridle and relax. When he asked her to run in the Waya, she really kicked on. I'm really glad he wanted to ride her back."
Santana, Jr. will guide Get Explicit from the outside post in a field of nine as she again takes on Chad Brown-trained rivals Fools Gold and Santa Monica as well as Night of England from the barn of Saratoga's leading trainer.
"Hopefully we can turn things around this time," said Minshall. "Obviously, there's the two Chad Brown horses in there that we were sandwiched between last time, and he has another one in there. There's also a horse from Europe [Mrs. Sippy] that hasn't even run over here yet, so you don't know how good she is. But, that's what you expect when you come to Saratoga and run in those kinds of races. I think this filly is good enough."
The Woodbine-based Minshall has started a handful of horses at the Spa, including a win in the 2017 Grade 3 Schuylerville with Dream It Is. A Sovereign Award winner as Canada's Outstanding Trainer in 1998, Minshall said Get Explicit, who breezed five furlongs in 59.50 on the Woodbine Tapeta on August 25, is coming into the Glens Falls in good order.
"She's a very good work horse," said Minshall. "She's well in hand working and a very strong horse. She handles the synthetic well and works quick over it. I think she's stronger going into this race than the last race and she's very, very fit. She's looking to run."
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Gargan hopes to keep good momentum into Belmont; Reflects on Divine Miss Grey
With 11 wins from 37 starts this summer at Saratoga heading into Friday's card, including a victory in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy presented by NYRA Bets with Tax, conditioner Danny Gargan has enjoyed his most successful summer at the Spa.
Gargan said he will look to keep the momentum going into the Belmont Fall Championship meet.
"It's been a phenomenal meet," Gargan said. "We've had success up here before. I think three years ago we won 10 races, but to have a 30 percent win rate at Saratoga has just been unbelievable. It really has been a banner year for us overall, even though we know we can't keep it up. I just don't have the number of horses as others, but we'll keep putting forth our best effort."
The anchor of Gargan's success this year has been R.A. Hill Stable, Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Hugh Lynch and Corms Racing Stable's Tax. The dark bay son of Arch claimed for $50,000 in October as a juvenile has gone on to win the Grade 3 Withers and finished second in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial presented by NYRA Bets at Aqueduct Racetrack before winning the Jim Dandy on July 27 at Saratoga.
Following a seventh-place finish in the Grade 1 Runhappy Travers in his most recent start, Gargan said he's keeping all options on the table for the stable star.
"He came out of the Travers in good shape," said Gargan. "We didn't get the best of trips in there, but he's emerged from it nice and going forward we have a couple of options to look at with the [Grade 1] Pennsylvania Derby [September 21] at Parx or we may try him on the grass in the [Grade 2] Hill Prince [October 5] at Belmont. I really haven't decided yet."
While the Gargan barn has experienced many highs this meet, they have also had to overcome adversity. It was reported this week that graded stakes winner Divine Miss Grey was euthanized following surgery for an injury to her left foreleg incurred in the Fasig-Tipton De La Rose on August 3.
The 5-year-old Divine Park mare for owners Corms Racing Stable and R.A. Hill Stable finished her career with 12 victories from 26 starts with $934,372 in earnings, including a victory in the Grade 2 Chilukki at Churchill Downs in 2018.
"It's still hard to talk about," said Gargan. "She was the horse that really built our operation. She always gave a 110 percent effort and was a really great horse. It's unfortunate and we'll always remember her in the barn."
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Into Mischief well represented in G1 Spinaway
As one of the leading sires in North America, young progeny of Into Mischief are well represented at the highest levels. On Sunday, four of his daughters will make up over half the starting gate in the Grade 1, $350,000 Spinaway at Saratoga Race Course.
Standing at B. Wayne Hughes' Spendthrift Farms in Lexington, Kentucky for a stud fee of $150,000, Into Mischief is the sire of first-out maiden winners Frank's Rockette, Figure of Speech and Risky Mischief, as well as Mundaye Call, who was second in her career debut but will look to break her maiden on Sunday against Grade 1 company.
"It just continues to reaffirm what we thought about this horse and credit to our breeders that they're producing a quality product," said Spendthrift Farms' general manager Ned Toffey. "We're certainly proud of our horse and appreciative of the breeders. It's a credit to them what Into Mischief has done and this is evidence of their good work."
Into Mischief was last year's Champion Juvenile Sire and is tied with son Goldencents for leading sire of 2-year-olds this year with 15 victories apiece.
He sired a juvenile stakes winner at the Spa when Comical won the Grade 3 Schuylerville on Opening Day. Should one of his four progeny win the Spinaway, it would give the stallion his third Grade 1 winner this year.
Frank's Rockette, a first-out winner at Churchill Downs by 8 3/4 lengths for Hall of Famer Bill Mott, enters the Spinaway off a narrow second to fellow contender Perfect Alibi in the Grade 2 Adirondack. Figure of Speech and Risky Mischief enter the Spinaway off of maiden victories against open company and New York-breds, respectively.
"Into Mischief has certainly shown the ability to get precocious horses; horses that run early and run often. That's right in his wheelhouse," Toffey said.
Toffey has noticed quite a few similar traits in regard to Into Mischief progeny, stating that many are very intelligent and have good physical confirmation.
"I think Into Mischief, just as much as any horse as I can think of, has really stamped his offspring," Toffey said. "They're marked similarly. Physically, they're very muscular. They tend to stand over a lot of ground and at the same time carry lots of substance. Maybe the thing that allows them to be consistent is that they're good mentally. Just as Into Mischief himself was, they're smart and they're tough, but they're also very manageable. They love to go to work every day and do their job. I think that's one of the reasons why you see four Into Mischiefs in one two-year-old stakes race."
In addition to currently being the leading sire of juveniles, Into Mischief is also the overall leading sire in North America in terms of wins with 163 winners. All four progeny will look to give Into Mischief his first winner of the Spinaway.
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Tagg considering options for Grand Prix American Jockey Club Invitational
Highland Sky, owned by Joyce Young, Gerald McManis and Jerrie Stewart McManis, won his first race since June of 2018 last week when capturing the John's Call by an impressive 8 ¼ lengths over a sloppy main track.
Conditioner Barclay Tagg said he is considering running the 6-year-old Sky Mesa gelding back in the inaugural running of the $300,000 Grand Prix American Jockey Club Invitational going 1 ½ miles on the dirt on Saturday, September 7 at Belmont Park.
"It was a very nice performance from him," said Tagg. "He enjoyed the surface and looked good that day, but I'm not sure I want to run him back that quick. He ran in the John's Call off three weeks rest and it would be another three weeks until the Grand Prix. I haven't made up my mind for certain, but we're more likely to run Realm."
A 6-year-old gelded son of Haynesfield co-owned by Tagg with Eric Dattner and Harry Astarita, Realm kicked off his campaign with a third-place finish in the Skip Away at Gulfstream Park in March before finishing off-the-board in the Grade 3 Westchester at Belmont.
Following a third-place finish in the Grade 2 Woodford Reserve Brooklyn Invitational and fourth in the Grade 2 Suburban at Belmont, Tagg said he is looking forward to getting Realm back to the races.
"We couldn't find a race for him all summer up here, but he's been training well," said Tagg. "He's a good honest horse and he's sound, so we'll see what happens."
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Rookie Report: Four maiden races on deck for Saturday
Juveniles will have their chance to shine on a stakes-packed Saturday afternoon with four open company maiden special weight events scheduled for the Woodward Racing Festival undercard.
In Race 1, eight 2-year-olds seek their first triumph over the inner turf going 1 1/16 miles. Trainer Chad Brown will saddle a well-bred Palace Malice bay in Structor for Jeff Drown and Don Rachel. Purchased for $850,000 from the Ocala Breeders Sales Company's 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale in March, Structor is out of the More Than Ready broodmare Miss Always Ready - a full-sister to 2010 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner More Than Real.
Trainer Jonathan Thomas will saddle a son of 2014 Cartier Horse of the Year and second-crop sire Kingman in King's Honor. The Michael Ryan-owned Irish-bred bay is out of the Perfect Soul broodmare Soul of Houdini, whose dam Houdini's Honey is a full-sister to French champion and champion producing sire Machiavellian. He also is a direct descendant of Canadian Hall of Famer and prolific broodmare Natalma.
Other notable members of the family include French Group 1 winner Coup de Genie, French champion Denebola and Grade 1 winning millionaire Emollient.
King's Honor was entered earlier in the meet but scratched when the race was taken off the turf.
Trainer Tom Albertrani will debut well-bred Scanno for Don Alberto Stable. The dark bay homebred colt is out of 2006 Preakness winner and Champion 3-Year-Old Bernardini, who also was trained by Albertrani, and out of Grade 1 winner Sarah Lynx.
Albertrani said Scanno wasn't the most efficient in his training early on, but really picked things up heading into his career debut. Three works back, he breezed over the Oklahoma training turf covering five furlongs in 1:02 flat.
"When he first came, he wasn't really flashy. But lately he started stepping up and had a real good work on the grass a couple of works back," Albertrani said. "From there, I think things just started coming along really well with him. I'm expecting to see a good effort. Most of the time, my two-year-olds don't fire first time, but I'm hoping to see a nice effort out of him. I'm still waiting for another Bernardini to come along, but it's always nice to have those kinds of horses in the barn."
A field of 10 juvenile colts will take to the main track for Race 5 going seven furlongs.
Trainer Kenny McPeek will debut a bay Street Sense colt he purchased for $500,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Mid-Atlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale this May in Made Sense.
Owned by Fern Circle Stables, Made Sense is out of the Forest Wildcat broodmare Forest Fashion. He is from the same family as 2002 Group 1 Epsom Oaks winner Casual Look.
Tobey L. Morton's Famished will look to graduate second time out after finishing third behind impressive maiden winner Tumbling Sky on August 10 at the Spa.
Trained by John Kimmel, the Uncle Mo bay was bred in Ontario by Michael C. Byrne. He is the first foal out of the Survivalist broodmare Ravenist and is related to several Canadian stakes winners.
Famished was purchased for $375,000 from the Fasig-Tipton Mid-Atlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale.
In Race 7, juvenile colts will take to the main track going seven furlongs.
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin will debut a well-bred Tapit chestnut in Tapage. Owned by Godolphin, Tapage is out of the Grade 1-winning multimillionaire Hystericalady, who also produced turf graded stakes winner Lady Montdore and recent sophomore maiden winner Comical Ghost.
"We want him to have a good experience in the afternoon," McLaughlin said. "Hopefully, he runs well. Usually, ours improve from the race. We want to win, but seven-eighths is a tough distance first out. He's done everything right in the mornings."
August Dawn Farms' Three Technique has been second as the favorite in both of his career starts, but will attempt to make the third time the charm when stretching out to seven furlongs.
Trained by Jeremiah Englehart, the dark bay son of Mr. Speaker was second last out to impressive maiden winner Basin, registering an 83 Beyer Speed Figure.
Hall of Famer Bill Mott will debut a well-bred Juddmonte Farms colt in Breithorn, a bay son of Into Mischief out of the Galileo broodmare Ventoux.
The homebred is related to Group 1 winner Special Duty as well as Grade 1 winning mares Sightseek and Tates Creek.
Two-year-olds will take to the Mellon turf course in Race 8, including Martin and Pam Wygod's Mr Jaggers for Hall of Famer Bill Mott. The bay Twirling Candy colt was third beaten two lengths last out to eventual graded stakes placed Field Pass. The Kentucky homebred is out of the Dynaformer broodmare Miss Havisham and is related to Grade 1-winning millionaire Turbulent Descent.
Trainer Ralph Nicks sends out a first time starter for Mandy Pope's Whisper Hill Farm in Tapaloof, a gray or roan son of Tapit out of the Group 3 winning Galileo broodmare Aloof. The Kentucky homebred's maternal granddam is Group 1 winner Airwave who produced Meow - the dam of European champion Churchill.