by NYRA Press Office
Trainer Simon Crisford was on hand at Saratoga Race Course on Thursday morning to watch Godolphin's Ostilio train on the Oklahoma dirt training track in preparation for the Grade 1, $500,000 Fourstardave Handicap.
The one-mile event over the inner turf at the Spa is a Breeders' Cup Challenge Series Race offering a 'Win and You're In' berth to the Grade 1, $2 million Breeders' Cup Mile set for November 2 at Santa Anita Park.
The Fourstardave Handicap and Grade 2, $200,000 Saratoga Special presented by Miller Lite will be broadcast live on NBC as part of a one-hour national show from 5 to 6 p.m. Eastern.
Ostilio, bred by Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum, went to the main track on Wednesday but switched gears this morning and enjoyed a strong blowout down the Oklahoma straight.
"He got across it really well. We're very happy with him. It was just a couple of furlongs, what we would call a half-speed, a swinging canter for two furlongs," said Crisford.
Saturday's test will mark the first North American adventure for the 4-year-old New Approach chestnut, who boasts a record of four wins and five seconds from 11 starts, including scores in the Britannia at Ascot last June and the Group 2 Prix Daniel Wildenstein at Longchamp in October.
Winless in two starts this year, Ostilio finished eighth last out in the Group 1 Lockinge at Newbury. Crisford said the configuration at Saratoga should benefit the British-bred Ostilio, who will be piloted on Saturday by Andrea Atzeni.
"We felt a flat oval track would suit him really well," said Crisford. "It's a huge race and it fits into his program really well as hasn't run since May and he's all about the second half of the year. It's a very good starting point for him. He's coming here fit and well and we hope he can acquit himself well."
While Ostilio is often on or near the lead in his European form, Crisford said he will allow Atzeni to assess tactics when they burst from the gate out of post 5 in the 10-horse field.
"He races quite freely," said Crisford. "We'll see how quick he is out of the gate compared to American horses. We haven't schooled him to be American quick. He's very much European-quick out of the gates, and that's different from here. Andrea will ride him as he finds him once he jumps. Hopefully he jumps well and gives him a forward ride, if he jumps into that position."
Crisford, a long-time racing manager for Godolphin before taking out his trainer's license, has traveled numerous runners to North America in his previous capacity including such standouts as Daylami and Sulamani.
He spoke highly of Ostilio's effort at Ascot when besting a field of 30 for a victory that marked the first Royal Ascot win for Crisford.
"The Britannia is a very tough race for 3-year-olds at a straight mile. It's quite a demanding test and he made nearly all the running" said Crisford. "When he went to France [for the Wildenstein] - a right-handed track - it's an easier mile than what we had to do at Ascot, but he won that nicely and was very resolute and strong at the finish."
Crisford said Ostilio is a horse with room to improve in races to come.
"He's always been a horse with plenty of talent and is fairly lightly raced for his age. He's coming forward and hopefully we can enjoy a productive second half of the year with him," said Crisford.
Regardless of the result on Saturday, Crisford said he already feels like a winner, having spent a morning at the Spa.
"It's my first time here as a trainer with a runner and I'm extremely delighted to be a part of it all," said Crisford. "Saratoga itself is one of the dream places in the history of horse racing. Just to be here is a win ticket anyway."
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McLaughlin likely to point A Thread of Blue to $1 million Jockey Club Derby
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin will likely target the inaugural $1 million Jockey Club Derby Invitational at Belmont Park with A Thread of Blue, who won the Saratoga Derby Invitational in wire-to-wire fashion under jockey Luis Saez on Sunday.
Leonard Green's dark bay son of Hard Spun scored his third stakes victory in the Saratoga Derby, which came after wins in the Dania Beach and Grade 3 Palm Beach at Gulfstream Park.
"He came out of the race really well, we'll look at [the Jockey Club Derby], September 7," McLaughlin said. "We weren't sure if he'd get a mile-and-three-sixteenths and we aren't sure he'll get a mile-and-a-half, but we've got a million reasons to try. If it's firm, that will help. If it's really soft, we might reconsider."
Bred in Kentucky by Flaxman Holdings, A Thread of Blue is out of the Seeking the Gold broodmare Enthused and was purchased for $430,000 at the Ocala Breeders Sales Company's Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training last March.
McLaughlin said Godolphin's Endorsed is still under consideration for the Grade 1, $1.25 million Runhappy Travers on August 24. The bay son of Medaglia d'Oro out of Grade 1 winner Dance Card was recently second in the Curlin to Highest Honors and returned to the work tab on Tuesday morning with a half-mile breeze in 49.03 seconds.
"He worked well and we're looking at the Travers," McLaughlin said. "We're not 100 percent sure yet."
McLaughlin's lone victory in the "Mid-Summer Derby" took place when Alpha, who also was owned by Godolphin, dead heated with Golden Ticket in 2012.
The veteran conditioner also said Shadwell Farm's three-time Grade 1-placed Qurbaan will point towards a repeat win in the Grade 2, $250,000 Bernard Baruch on September 2, but Fasig-Tipton Lure winner Lucullan, owned by Godolphin, will wait on something else.
"We'll do something else because he ran back a month off of a year and a half layoff," McLaughlin said.
Lucullan, a 5-year-old Hard Spun bay, won the Lure off of an allowance win at Belmont Park, which was his first start in 14 months. He is out of the graded-stakes winning broodmare Golden Velvet, who also produced graded stakes winner Innovative Idea.
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Glory Road possible for G1 Runhappy Hopeful
Following a first out maiden win for trainer Todd Pletcher, Glory Road could race back on Closing Day in the Grade 1, $350,000 Runhappy Hopeful for owners China Horse Club and WinStar Farm.
The dark bay son of freshman sire Commissioner sat well off the pace and went six wide into the stretch to haul in pacesetter Atoka in the final stride to win by a nose.
"That certainly would be under consideration," Pletcher said of the Hopeful. "I thought he ran well. He kept on closing and he's one that will appreciate more ground later on down the road."
Purchased for $220,000 from the Keeneland September Yearling Sale, Glory Road is out of the unraced Quality Road broodmare Highest Quality and is from the same family as Grade 1-winners Fantastic Find and Finder's Fee.
Pletcher said he will consider the Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward presented by NYRA Bets for Grade 1 Whitney third-place finisher Vino Rosso. The son of Curlin won the Grade 1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita prior to the Whitney.
"So far he's come out of the race in good shape and we're keeping all of our options open," said Pletcher. "We'll keep an eye on how he trains and keep the Woodward and the [Grade 1, $750,000] Jockey Club Gold Cup [on September 28 at Belmont Park] in mind. We'll just play it by ear in the next couple of weeks and see how he's doing."
An earner of over $1.3 million, Vino Rosso is out of the Street Cry broodmare Mythical Bride.
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By Your Side on target for G1 Hopeful on Closing Day
After making a successful stakes debut at Saratoga at the start of the summer meet, Anderson Stables' By Your Side will look to end it on a similar high in targeting the Grade 1, $350,000 Runhappy Hopeful on Closing Day, September 2, trainer Eddie Kenneally said.
After winning his first start on June 14 at Churchill Downs at 5 ½ furlongs, the Constitution colt improved to 2-for-2 when he bested a five-horse field in the Grade 3 Sanford at six furlongs on a fast Spa main track on July 13.
By Your Side will now look to add "Grade 1-winner" to his resume in the Hopeful, a prestigious race for 2-year-olds that counts legendary horses as its winners since the first running in 1903, including Peter Pan (1906), Man o' War (1919), Native Dancer (1952), Nashua (1954), Buckpasser (1965), Secretariat (1972), Gulch (1986) and Afleet Alex (2004).
"It's a prestigious race and a lot of good horses have won it," Kenneally said. "We're hoping that our horse will improve from race-to-race. He appears to be doing great."
Contested at seven-furlongs, the Hopeful will mark a return to Saratoga for By Your Side, who has stayed here since earning a 74 Beyer Speed Figure following his Sanford victory in which he bested Tomato Bill by three lengths.
He has registered a pair of four-furlong breezes on the main track since that effort, including a work in 49.44 seconds on Sunday.
"He's had two good works here at Saratoga since the Sanford," Kenneally said. "Everything is how it should be."
Competing in a prestigious race was the initial goal when By Your Side was purchased for $240,000 at the 2018 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. Kenneally said he was targeting the Hopeful early on, but the initial results would dictate the plans. So far, the bay colt has proven he deserves the opportunity to move up.
"You have a tentative plan mapped out in your head and if the horse cooperates, great. If not, you go to Plan B," he said. "You always have a plan, but it doesn't always materialize."
Kenneally will also have another juvenile looking to make an impression in Joseph Sutton's Kentucky homebred Noose, who won his debut on June 28 at Churchill by five lengths and is entered as part of an eight-horse field in Saturday's Grade 2, $200,000 Saratoga Special presented by Miller Lite.
Contested at 6 ½ furlongs, the Saratoga Special will see Noose break from post 1 with jockey Corey Lanerie back in the irons.
"He had a really good breeze on Friday and worked super to set himself up perfectly for this race on Saturday," Kenneally said. "Obviously, this is a tougher group of horses we're going to be running against, but I think he's an improving horse. He's already run at six furlongs and won. This being 6 ½ isn't a huge leap forward. The question is, has he improved enough?
"He's settled in lovely. We're real positive. He's doing great," he added. "He did all of his training at Churchill for his first start and then he ran there and won, so we figured we'd just continue with that. I'm sure he'll take to this track just fine, also."
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Serengeti Empress Cotillion-bound following runner-up effort in G1 Longines Test
Joel Politi's Serengeti Empress came out of her gritty second-place finish to Covfefe in the Grade 1 Longines Test last week in good order and will now target the Grade 1, $1 million Cotillion on September 21 at Parx, trainer Tom Amoss said.
The three-time graded stakes-winner, who captured the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks on May 3 at Churchill Downs, dueled with Covfefe down the lane in the seven-furlong Test on August 3 at Saratoga, finishing a half-length back to the winner, with third-place finisher Bellafina a further 8 ¾ lengths back.
It marked the second straight competitive runner-up effort for Serengeti Empress, who ran second to Guarana in the Grade 1 Acorn on Belmont Stakes Day, June 8.
"We're really proud of her. She ran really well and I think her, along with the winner Covfefe, put on a great show," Amoss said. "I'm disappointed she ran second but that's just how it goes. She came out of the race in good shape and we're pointing her to the Cotillion. She'll go back home to Louisville to prepare for that."
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Rodriguez barn heating up at right time
Trainer Rudy Rodriquez picked up a pair of victories on Wednesday's card with 4-year-old gelding Creative Style capturing a starter allowance in Race 8 and 3-year-old filly Teletype breaking her maiden in the day's finale to double his win total to four for the meet.
"It's always pretty tough up here to compete, but we think we've got some nice horses so we'll compete and enjoy days like yesterday and hope for more of them," said Rodriguez.
Sent off at odds of 11-1 and making his first start since finishing second in a starter allowance on July 3 at Belmont, Creative Style went six-wide into the stretch and rallied to close a length in front of the nine-horse field at the wire.
"I wasn't really surprised with his performance," said Rodriguez. "He was always knocking on the door, but you still have to see how they're going to perform. The pace was good out in front of him and he was able to pull away. I was only concerned with the distance because it looked like he really wants to go seven-eighths to a mile max, but everything worked out for him."
Teletype pressed the pace and pulled away late to notch her first win by 2 ½ lengths.
"She ran a good race as well," said Rodriguez. "They are both already back down to Belmont. We had no room for them up here at the moment, but if we can find the right races back for each of them, we'll bring them back up."
Rodriguez also reported that stakes winner Majid,for Zayat Stables, was in good order breezing five furlongs in 1:02.22 at the Belmont Park training track on Wednesday. Majid finished fifth in the Grade 3 Dwyer last out while making his graded stakes debut after capturing the Easy Goer on June 8.
"Majid is doing well. We're just going to take our time to find the right spot for him," said Rodriguez. "He's still eligible for a non-winners of two. There's still a lot of 3-year-old races left in the year and we're looking to build up his confidence. We tried to take him to the next level and he stumbled out of the gate, but those horses were pretty tough. I wanted to run in Curlin and we missed that, but we'll regroup and find another spot for him soon."
Rodriguez said New York-bred 3-year-old Not That Brady, who finished second in the Grade 3 Withers at Aqueduct in February and went on to finish fifth in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial, will next be pointed to the $250,000 Albany.
The Big Brown colt last out finished second in a courageous effort tin the New York Derby on July 24 at Finger Lakes.
"We'll look to work him again this week either Saturday or Sunday but we're aiming for the Albany," said Rodriguez. "He came out of that race well and I was happy with the way he ran. He showed a lot of fight and didn't embarrass himself. He looks good and we have another two weeks and maybe two works to get there."
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The Rookie Report: European pedigrees present in Friday turf maiden special weight
Eight 2-year-old fillies will seek their first trip to the winner's circle in the sixth race on Friday afternoon at Saratoga Race Course, which is a 5 ½-furlong event over the Mellon turf course.
Michael Dubb, The Elkstone Group, Madaket Stables and Bethlehem Stables' send out Boston Beauties for her career debut. The bay daughter of Zoffany was bred in Ireland by Kilcarn Stud and is out of the unraced Cape Cross broodmare Queen of Carthage, who is out of Satwa Queen - the winner of the Group 1 Prix de l'Opera winner in 2007.
"She's not a very big filly, she acts like she has some quickness so that's why we opted to run her going five-and-a-half," said trainer Todd Pletcher. "We hope she makes a good debut. It seems like she's a one turn filly."
Trainer Chad Brown will debut a pair of well-bred fillies in Voting Agreement and Indochine.
Owned by Seth Klarman's Klaravich Stables, Voting Agreement is a bay daughter of More Than Ready purchased for $130,000 from last year's Keeneland September Yearling Sale. Bred in Kentucky by Swilcan Stables, Voting Agreement is out of the Mineshaft broodmare Veno Amore, who was graded stakes placed over the main track.
Peter Brant's Indochine is by multiple Grade 1-producing stallion War Front and out of the Grade 1-placed Smart Strike broodmare Fascinating, who is a half-sister to Grade 1 winner and producer Bodemeister. Both are out of the graded stakes winning broodmare Untouched Talent. Indochine was bought for $470,000 at last year's Keeneland September Yearling Sale.
Trainer Wesley Ward will attempt more success with Bob Edwards' e Five Thoroughbreds when he debuts Divided Sky, a bay filly bred in Ireland by Tally Ho Stud. The daughter of Society Rock is the second progeny out of the Haatef broodmare Naqrah, who also produced Grade 3 Honeymoon winner Lady Prancealot.
Ward trains two other juveniles for e Five Thoroughbreds in Slap Happy and Remaster, both of which broke their maidens first time out.
"We're expecting big things," Ward said "Bob Edwards gave me three horses to train and try to get to Royal Ascot with. Early on when I got her, this was his ticket over there but unfortunately, she had some minor issues. Once we decided it wasn't in her best interests, even though ability wise she certainly had it. We focused on her and let her come around when she is ready and she's ready."
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Saratoga Week 6 Stakes probables
Wednesday, August 14:
$100,000 Bolton Landing:
Probable: Angelcents (Larry Rivelli); Champagne Humor (Antonio Sano); Classy Sadie (Gary Contessa)
Possible: Dontyouremember (Michael Lauer)
Thursday, August 15:
$100,000 Union Avenue
Probable: Baby Boss (Jeremiah Englehart); Bonita Bianca (Jason Servis); Carrera Cat (John Morrison); Flat Calm (Linda Rice); Holiday Disguise (Rice); JC's Shooting Star (David Donk); Pauseforthecause (Kiaran McLaughlin)
Possible: New Girl in Town (Christopher Progno)
Saturday, August 17:
Grade 1: $600,000 Alabama
Probable: Afleet Destiny (Uriah St. Lewis); Champagne Anyone (Ian Wilkes); Dunbar Road (Chad Brown); Lady Apple (Asmussen); Point of Honor (George Weaver); Street Band (Larry Jones); Ulele (Brad Cox)
Grade 2, $200,000 Lake Placid
Probable: Amandrea (Maker); Belle Laura (Casse); Feel Glorious (Clement); Magnetic Charm (Haggas); Varenka (Graham Motion); Vow to Recover (Elizabeth Dobles)
Possible: Kelsey's Cross (Patrick Biancone)
$100,000 Smart N Fancy
Probable: Broadway Run (John Terranova); Fire Key (James Ryerson); Miss Gossip (Eduardo Caramori); Morticia (Rusty Arnold); Ruby Notion (Darrin Miller)
Possible: Mominou (Jimmy Toner); Olkesandra (Neil Drysdale)
Sunday, August 18:
$100,000 Summer Colony
Probable: Blue Prize (Ignacio Correas); Moonlit Garden (Cox); Pacific Wind (Brown); Skeptic (Arnold); Vexatious (Jack Sisterson)