G1-winner Mysterious Night looms large in G3 Kelso | NYRA
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Jul 7, 2024
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G1-winner Mysterious Night looms large in G3 Kelso

by Keith McCalmont

Godolphin’s Grade 1-winning Irish homebred Mysterious Night will look to improve upon his runner-up effort last out in the Grade 3 Poker when he takes on a pair of returning foes in Saturday’s Grade 3, $175,000 Kelso, a one-mile inner turf test for older horses, at Saratoga Race Course.

The Kelso, slated as Race 2, is part of a stacked 12-race card that includes the Grade 3, $175,000 Sanford in Race 11 and the meet’s first Grade 1, the $500,000 Diana, in Race 11. First post is 12:35 p.m. Eastern.

Trained by Charlie Appleby, Mysterious Night will reoppose third place Talk of the Nation and fifth-place beaten favorite Carl Spackler from the one-mile Grade 3 Poker held June 8 at the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival at Saratoga.

The 4-year-old Dark Angel gelding exited the inside post in the seven-horse Poker and saved ground from third position under William Buick as Ice Chocolat led through splits of 24.41 seconds and 48.17 over the firm footing.

Mysterious Night [post 2, Flavien Prat, 122 pounds] maintained his inside position into the stretch run where he was pinned in by Carl Spackler before closing with intent when shown to the outside late. But Ice Chocolat would not be denied the one-length score in a final time of 1:33.97.

The well-traveled Mysterious Night captured the 2022 Group 3 Prix Francois Boutin at Deauville as a juvenile ahead of a score in that year’s Grade 1 Summer at Woodbine Racetrack. He went winless in four sophomore starts but returned to form this winter in Dubai at Meydan Racecourse with a pair of seven-furlong scores, taking the Jebel Ali Free Zone on January 19 and the Group 2 Al Fahidi Fort one week later. The talented bay entered the Poker from a more than three-month layoff out of an off-the-board effort in the Group 2 1351 Turf Sprint in February at King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Saudi Arabia.

Appleby, who captured the Grade 1 Fasig-Tipton Belmont Oaks with Cinderella’s Dream on Saturday at Belmont at the Big A, believes Mysterious Night will improve second start off the freshening.

“He ran a good race there in his first start this season in America. He came out of it well and I feel he'll be a live player,” Appleby said.

Out of the Shamardal mare Mistrusting, Mysterious Night is a full-brother to the Appleby-trained 2021 Grade 1 Just a Game and Grade 1 Diana winner Althiqa. His Group 2-winning half-sister, Star of Mystery, is entered in Friday’s Listed $150,000 Coronation Cup at the Spa.

Allen Stable and CHC Inc.’s multiple graded stakes-placed Talk of the Nation [post 4, Irad Ortiz, Jr., 118 pounds] pressed the pace en route to a third-place finish in the Grade 3 Poker.

Trained by Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, the 4-year-old Quality Road colt boasts a perfect in-the-money record of 8-3-4-1 on turf led by one-mile wins in the Columbia last March at Tampa Bay Downs and the Gun Runner in September at Kentucky Downs.

Along the way, he has picked up Grade 3 placings at the Poker distance when second in the Manila last July at Belmont Park as well as a close runner-up effort in the Bryan Station in October at Keeneland.

Pletcher said he was pleased with the Poker try from Talk of the Nation, which came on the heels of a close runner-up effort to Carl Spackler in the Listed Opening Verse on May 2 at Churchill Downs.

"I thought it was a solid effort. He just couldn't quite get by the pacesetter and then hold on for second, but it was a good effort as was his race at Churchill," Pletcher said. "He's a remarkably consistent horse and I expect him to show up and give us a good effort again."

Talk of the Nation is out of the multiple graded stakes-winning Street Cry mare She’s Not Here. His third dam, Vertigineux, produced Hall of Famer Zenyatta.

Carl Spackler [post 5, Tyler Gaffalione, 122 pounds] will look to avenge his fifth-place finish as the Grade 3 Poker favorite for four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown.

The 4-year-old Lope de Vega chestnut raced three-wide into the turn last out but could not outkick the field, landing 2 3/4-lengths back of Ice Chocolat. The Poker marked his first loss in three Spa starts after taking both the Grade 2 Hall of Fame and Grade 3 Saranac here last summer. Carl Spackler entered the Poker from the aforementioned game head score over Talk of the Nation to kick off his campaign in the Listed Opening Verse at Churchill Downs.

Carl Spackler, owned by e Five Racing Thoroughbreds, is out of the graded stakes-winning More Than Ready mare Zindaya, who is a half-sister to Grade 1-winner Western Aristocrat.

West Point Thoroughbreds and David Ingordo’s stakes-winner Northern Invader [post 3, Jose Ortiz, 118 pounds] will make his Saratoga debut for trainer Cherie DeVaux.

The 4-year-old Collected chestnut captured the one-mile Gio Ponti in October at Belmont at the Big A, utilizing a prominent trip engineered by returning pilot Jose Ortiz. He completed his sophomore campaign with runner-up efforts to Gigante in the off-the-turf Commonwealth Turf in November at Churchill Downs and the Woodchopper in December at Fair Grounds.

Northern Invader returned to the winner’s circle in April at Keeneland with a gate-to-wire allowance score, besting stakes-winner Belouni by 2 1/4-lengths. Last out, he set the tempo in the 1 1/16-mile Grade 3 Arlington on June 1 at Churchill before fading to fourth when five-lengths back of the victorious Appleby-trainee Ottoman Fleet, who exited to win the Grade 2 Wise Dan there.

Bred in Ontario by Anderson Farms Ont. Inc and Peter A. Berglar Racing Int., the $310,000 OBS March Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training purchase is out of the winning Arch mare Androeah, who is a full-sister to Grade 1-winner Archarcharch.

Rounding out the field is Michael Dubb’s six-time winner Call Me Harry [post 1, Luis Saez, 118 pounds] for trainer Rick Dutrow, Jr. Repo Rocks has been entered for the main track only.

The Kelso, which was previously run as the Forbidden Apple from 2014-22, was renamed in 2023. Kelso, the Hall of Fame homebred for Bohemia Stable, earned five Horse of the Year titles while setting or equaling eight different track records in a career that spanned from 1959 to 1966. He was enshrined in the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1967 for a career that saw him earn 31 total stakes victories and nearly $2 million in total purses.

Saratoga Live will present live coverage and analysis of the Saratoga Race Course summer meet on the networks of FOX Sports. For the broadcast schedule and channel finder, visit https://www.nyra.com/saratoga/racing/tv-schedule/.

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