by NYRA Press Office
New York-bred Horse of the Year Mind Your Biscuits, the 2-1 morning-line second choice in Saturday’s Grade 1, $1.2 million Whitney, continues to instill confidence among his connections that he is the horse to beat in the historic 1 1/8-mile “Win and You're In” qualifier for the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Classic on November 3 at Churchill Downs.
Off a runner-up finish by a nose to Bee Jersey in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap on June 9, the 5-year-old late-running son of Posse will face a talented eight-horse Whitney field, led by rival New York-bred Diversify, who will launch his front-running style from the outset. Trainer Chad Summers said he is ready for the matchup.
“Were excited,” Summers said. “As far as I'm concerned, we're the horse to beat. [I’m] very confident. I know when he's sitting on a big race and he's sitting on a big race right now. I didn't feel that way before the Forego last year, but he's coming into this race as good as I could hope. His numbers have said that the race in Dubai was fantastic, the Met Mile was his highest numbers race that he has run all year so were very, very confident. There might be people who are doubting his ability to get two turns or get a mile and an eighth, but it’s not anybody in this camp.”
Summers and jockey Joel Rosario have plenty of options to combat the different scenarios that may result during the race, and the pace set by 7-5 program favorite Diversify is something from which Mind Your Biscuits can benefit.
“It doesn’t really make a difference,” said Summers. “He might be in front, he might be third by a length or two, he might be fifth by five lengths. We'll have game plan A, B, C and D. There's not a dream trip. He's able to overcome all sorts of different things. That's the way Joel and I have always done it. We'll sit down and map out a strategy and a game plan.
“Going into the first turn, the break is crucial for some of these horses; Dalmore, Diversify, McCraken and Backyard Heaven, especially. How they break is probably going to determine how the race is run. With us, we have every opportunity. You never know. We'll have all different kinds of game plans ready depending on how the race might set up.”
Rosario will be aboard for the 14th time in 23 starts on Saturday with six of those resulting in victories highlighted by the Grade 2 Amsterdam at Saratoga, the Grade 1 Malibu At Santa Anita in his 3-year-old season, and the Grade 2 Belmont Sprint which were bookended by two Group 1 wins in the $2 million Golden Shaheen in Dubai as a 4-and-5-year-old.
“He fits him well,” said the 33-year-old Summers. “There is nobody else I'd rather have in my corner going into a big race. He's won some big races, and when Joel is riding good, Joel is riding good, and right now he's riding real good. I'll take Joel against all these younger jockeys and all the Hall of Fame jockeys. Joel deserves to be in the Hall of Fame one day, and when all is said done, he will be. To have a horse like this that he's had that success on means a lot to us.”
The highest earning New York-bred in history with $3,939,286 in purses does enjoy his down time when not racing or training. Summers and his crew have kept him entertained in his stall by playing carefully selected tunes to keep him happy.
“He still listens to his music,” he said. “He's a lot more mature now than he used to be. He likes the Hamilton soundtrack lately. He's big on that “One Shot” song. If he doesn't like the song you're playing he'll have his ears pinned back and he'll stop bouncing. If he likes it, then he goes back to his strut. It’s the way he's always been. He's almost human with the things he does. We can tell you stories ... he really is part of the family.”
Summers, who keeps a string of 11 on the Saratoga backstretch and has another dozen in training in Florida, said Mind Your Biscuits has been a steady work in progress who's success has paid off.
“At the end of the day we let the horse speak for himself,” Summers said. “We look at what the horse has done. I was fortunate enough to buy him as a yearling, and fortunate enough to train him. [I] make some decisions, but it's team decisions. We're always working together and trying to find out what’s best for the horse. Everyone along the way has played a big part of this as well. It's my name on paper, but its’ always going to be a team effort.”
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Cathedral Reader taking G1 Test, Auspicious Babe works Friday for G1 Alabama
After a quiet opening to the meet, with just four starters through the first 13 days, trainer Dallas Stewart is looking to make some noise in the coming weeks starting with G M B Racing’s Cathedral Reader in Saturday’s Grade 1, $500,000 Longines Test.
A chestnut daughter of 2011 Grade 1 Preakness winner Shackleford, Cathedral Reader will be making her stakes debut in her third career start. She romped by 6 ½ lengths over older horses in her unveiling going 5 ½ furlongs May 13, one of just three of the Test’s nine fillies to have faced and beaten her elders.
Last time out, she finished third as the favorite in a six-furlong optional claimer in the Churchill Downs slop June 21. She has breezed four times since then, her half-mile in 48.34 over Saratoga’s main track July 27 – eighth-fastest of 60 horses – convincing Stewart to try the Test.
“She got up here and she worked great. We were kind of thinking either an allowance race or this race, and she worked really good, so I said, ‘Let’s go ahead and give it a shot,’” Stewart said. “She’s light on experience, but she won first time and she didn’t have a great trip the second time, but I thought she fought hard. So, we’ll see.”
Cathedral Reader will break from post 6 in a competitive edition of the Test and will be ridden for the first time by meet-leading jockey Luis Saez, winner of the 2016 running with 55-1 long shot Paola Queen. Cathedral Reader is 20-1 on the morning line.
“It’s a great field. She’s going to have to run hard to win it,” Stewart said. “I think we’ve got a nice filly, so we’re going to try it. She’s pretty professional.”
Friday morning Stewart sent out Rock Ridge Thoroughbreds homebred Auspicious Babe for a half-mile work on the Oklahoma training track ahead of the Grade 1, $600,000 Alabama August 18.
Under jockey Florent Geroux, the 3-year-old daughter of Bodemeister was caught by clockers going a quarter-mile in :25 3/5 and a half in 49.99 seconds, galloping out five furlongs in 1:03 1/5.
“She worked great. I was going to work on the main track but with the weather we brought her over here and she worked awesome,” Stewart said. “I might work her back over here. We’re happy. That’s a good work over here.”
Auspicious Babe went unraced at 2 and was seventh in her one-mile maiden special weight debut May 4 at Churchill, but has since reeled off back-to-back victories going 1 1/16 miles, the most recent coming in an entry-level optional claiming allowance June 29. Geroux was up for both wins.
“Her first start, she ran in the mud on [Kentucky] Oaks day and didn’t do very well. We stretched her out and she won, and we brought her back in a one-other-than going long and she won. Everything’s good,” Stewart said. “She’s a big, strong filly. The way she won at Churchill, it looks like she can handle a mile and a quarter. Some of the other ones that are pretty good fillies might not want to go that far. I know it’s going to be a great race; it’s the Alabama. So, let’s take a shot.”
Stewart is pointing 2017 Grade 1 Clark Handicap winner Seeking the Soul to the Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward September 1 at Saratoga. The 5-year-old most recently ran second in the Michael G. Schaefer Memorial Stakes July 14 at Indiana Grand, his first start since a fifth-place finish in the Grade 1, $16 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational January 27 at Gulfstream Park.
On Thursday, 3-year-old Quality Road colt Wild Road ran fourth for Stewart in a maiden special weight at Saratoga. The trainer also had Thirteen Songs finish fourth in the Grade 2 Honorable Miss July 25.
“We’re just kind of getting rolling. We had a horse run good yesterday, we’ve got the filly that’s going to go in the Alabama, we’ve got the Test, we’ve got Seeking the Soul for the Woodward,” Stewart said. “We’ll be all right. We might be a little noisier than you think later on. We’ve got some 2-year-olds that we like, too, so we’ll see.”
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Consistent Ready for Rye looking to end stakes drought in G3 Troy
Chalk Racing’s Ready for Rye, in his fifth season of racing, has been a steady presence for trainer Tom Albertrani. The 6-year-old City Zip gelding who debuted September 1, 2014 at Saratoga has 18 top-three finishes in 28 career starts, seven of them wins, and $817,090 in purse earnings.
Ready for Rye won the Grade 2 Swale on the dirt at Gulfstream Park as a 3-year-old in 2015, and later that year won both the Quick Call on turf at Saratoga and the Allied Forces after it was rained off the grass to Belmont’s main track.
Though his last stakes win came in the Allied Forces, Ready for Rye has placed in seven stakes since then and 10 in all, seven of them in graded company. The Troy is scheduled for 5 ½ furlongs over the Mellon turf course.
“He’s got some big races to him, and I’m sure he has a couple more to look forward to,” Albertrani said. “He’s always right there.”
Ready for Rye snapped a seven-race losing streak with his victory in a six-furlong optional claimer May 27 at Belmont that was rained off the turf, improving his record to 4-1-0 from five starts over an off track. Last time out he finished seventh in the Grade 3 Parx Dash July 7, contested at five furlongs on the grass.
“He’s training good. My only concern would be how soft the turf comes up. I know he doesn’t like soft turf and this weather has made it a real challenge for us lately,” Albertrani said. “Hopefully it clears up. Either we need to have a lot of rain to come off the turf because he’s so much better in the mud, or we need it to be firm.
“Two races back, it was a good spot for him. He’s just so much better on an off going,” he added. “His race at Parx, he broke a little slow and just didn’t get a good trip. From the get-go, he got off bad and it just wasn’t a good day. Hopefully we’ll have better conditions this weekend.”
Albertrani reported that Grade 1 winner Sadler’s Joy continues to do well following his third-place finish in the Grade 2 Bowling Green July 28 and remains on course for the Grade 1, $1 million Sword Dancer August 25 on the Travers undercard.
Sadler’s Joy, with six wins and $1.7 million in purse earnings from 19 starts, is the defending champion in the Sword Dancer, a “Win and You’re In” event for the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf.
“He’s always so consistent. He’s been beaten a half a length or a neck or a head in his last four starts. It’s all about getting there on time,” Albertrani said. “We’re really proud of the horse. He’s done everything well this year and hopefully we’ll have firmer ground in the Sword Dancer.”
Making his customary late run, Sadler’s Joy wound up a half-length shy of dead-heat winners Channel Maker and 22-1 long shot pacesetter Glorious Empire in the 1 3/8-mile Bowling Green under Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano.
“He’s doing great. He bounced out of the race in good shape,” Albertrani said. “He’s another one that caught the soft going and didn’t care for it too much. Javier said going around the final turn he was really losing his traction over it and once he straightened for home he really surged and another couple of jumps we’re there.”
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Therapist looks to jazz up Monday’s NYSS Cab Calloway
Oak Bluff Stables’ Therapist will go for his second straight stakes win against fellow state-breds when he competes in Monday’s $100,000 New York Stallion Series Cab Calloway for 3-year-olds on Saratoga’s inner turf course.
After running sixth against open company in the Grade 2 Penn Mile at one mile on June 2 at Penn National, trainer Christophe Clement shortened Therapist to seven furlongs, where the Freud colt posted a two-length score over Collective Effort to win the NYSS Spectacular Bid on June 24 over Belmont’s Park turf.
Therapist, who has five wins in seven career starts, will again take aim at the Cab Calloway’s one-mile distance, where he has already won two stakes, capturing the Awad on October 28 at Belmont and the Cutler Bay by a neck over Speed Franco on March 31 at Gulfstream Park.
Drawing post 2, Therapist will have again have the services of jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr., who was aboard for his last five starts.
“He won last time carrying a lot of weight, and he’s doing great and training well, so why not run him?” Clement said. “I was a bit aggressive on him last time at Belmont. This time, it’s a mile and two turns. We got a great draw, so we’ll take our shot.”
Collective Effort ran second to Therapist in the Spectacular Bid, rallying from last of nine a quarter-mile in after hitting the gate at the start. The Raymond Handal trainee still tied a personal-best with an 80 Beyer Speed Figure for his best stakes finish.
Collective Effort is the field’s most experienced runner with 12 starts to his credit as he races at the Spa for the first time. Manny Franco will ride from post 7.
Santo Antonio, fourth in the Spectacular Bid, will be looking to break his maiden at fifth asking for trainer Rudy Rodriguez. The Frost Giant gelding will make his Saratoga debut from post 6 with Kendrick Carmouche picking up the mount. Santo Antonio is cross-entered in a maiden special weight on Sunday.
Codrington will make his second appearance of the meet at Saratoga after running seventh against allowance company on July 25 for trainer Mike Maker. Breaking from the rail, the son of Courageous Cat will have Florent Geroux in the irons.
A pair of first-time stakes starters rounds out the field, with Ten Eyck and Forward Motion drawing posts 4 and 5, respectively. Beach Access, sixth in the Spectacular Bid, drew the outside post. Stoney Bennett is entered for the main track only.
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Saratoga Race Course Week 4 stakes probables
Wednesday, August 8: The $100,000 Quick Call
Probable: Dirty (Jeremiah Englehart); Fig Jelly (Jason Servis); Majestic Dunhill (George Weaver); New Legend (Ben Colebrook); Shangroyal (Mike Maker); Smooth B (Robert Reid); Stolen Pistol (Joe Sharp)
Friday, August 10: The $100,000 Tale of the Cat
Probable: Command Post (Js Servis); Eight Town (Brian Lynch); Silver Ride (Lynch); Wonderful Light (Michelle Nevin)
Possible: Always Sunshine (Ned Allard); Lewisfield (Jeff Runco)
Saturday, August 11: Grade 1, $500,000 Fourstardave
Probable: Delta Prince (Jimmy Jerkens); Divisidero (Kelly Rubley); Heart to Heart (Lynch); Made You Look (Chad Brown); Yoshida (Bill Mott)
Possible: Voodoo Song (Linda Rice)
Saturday, August 11: Grade 2, $200,000 Adirondack
Probable: Lyrical Lady (Steve Asmussen); Sue’s Fortune (J. Englehart); Virginia Eloise (Todd Pletcher)
Possible: Tijori (Simon Callaghan)
Sunday, August 12: Grade 2, $200,000 Saratoga Special presented by Miller Lite
Probable: Call Paul (Js. Servis); Sombeyay (Pletcher); Spinoff (Pletcher)
Possible: Joevia (Greg Sacco); Sir Truebadour (Asmussen)
Monday, August 13: The $100,000 Saratoga Dew
Probable: Frosty Margarita (Rudy Rodriguez); Land Mine (Phil Serpe); Verdant Pastures (Charlton Baker)
Possible: Frost Wise (Dilger)