Qurbaan looks to end Spa meet on high note with repeat bid in G2 Bernard Baruch
by Brian Bohl
Shadwell Stable's Qurbaan will look to repeat as the winner of the Grade 2, $250,000 Bernard Baruch for 3-year-olds and up going 1 1/16 miles on the turf on Monday at Saratoga Race Course.
One of two stakes on the Closing Day card of the Saratoga meet along with the Grade 1, $350,000 Runhappy Hopeful for juveniles, the 61st running of the Bernard Baruch will feature Qurbaan looking for his first victory since edging Forge by a nose in the 2018 edition of the Bernard Baruch for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.
That victory, which marked the son of Speightstown's North American debut after winning five races in France, launched Qurbaan to a successful career since arriving from Europe. In eight starts on U.S. soil, he has compiled a 1-2-4 record, all against graded stakes company, with Beyer Speed Figures of 95 or higher every time he's left the gate.
Since winning the Bernard Baruch to close the 2018 summer meet at the Spa, Qurbaan has finished in the money in three Grade 1 starts, earning third-place honors in the Shadwell Turf Mile in October at Keeneland, third in the Maker's 46 Mile in April on the same track and second in the Turf Classic in May at Churchill Downs.
Last out, the 6-year-old ran third behind Hembree and the winner Mr Havercamp in the Grade 3 Forbidden Apple on July 12 going one mile on the Spa's inner turf.
"He's doing very well. He won it last year and he had a good run here earlier in the meet to be third," McLaughlin said. "He shows up. He's a nice horse so we hope all goes well. Everything is in good shape. The extra distance should be fine. He won it last year, so everything is a go."
Joel Rosario, aboard for the Forbidden Apple, will have the return call from post 3. Qurbaan will carry the co-highweight of 122 pounds.
Repole Stable's Noble Indy will make his fourth consecutive turf start looking for his first win on grass. After running third and second, respectively, against optional claimers on the new surface, Noble Indy stepped up to stakes company and ran fourth in the Fasig-Tipton Lure at the Bernard Baruch distance on August 3 at Saratoga.
The 4-year-old Take Charge Indy gelding who won the 2018 Grade 2 Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds before running 17th in that year's Kentucky Derby and 10th in the Belmont Stakes, finished off the board in his last six starts on dirt before trainer Todd Pletcher moved him to turf.
"He's seemed to find new life on the grass," Pletcher said.
Carrying 118 pounds, Noble Indy will have the services of jockey Jose Ortiz, looking to secure the meet's riding title, from post 5.
Saratoga meet-leading leading trainer Chad Brown will look to bolster his insurmountable lead for the H. Allen Jerkens training title with three formidable European-bred contenders in Emaraaty, Sacred Life and Olympico.
Sacred Life, a French-bred owned by Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables, Wonder Stables and Bethlehem Stables, ran second in the Lure in his first start since arriving from his native country. The ultra-consistent son of Siyouni, 4-4-0 in 10 starts, will run again at the Spa, drawing post 6 carrying 119 pounds with Irad Ortiz, Jr. set to ride again.
Olympico, owned by the same group as Sacred Life, has the most stakes experience of Brown's troika, posting a three-length score in the 1 1/8-mile Grade 3 Fort Marcy in his first North American appearance on May 4 at Belmont Park. With back-to-back seventh-place efforts in the Grade 1 Manhattan at 1 ¼ miles on Belmont Stakes Day on June 8 and in the Grade 2 Bowling Green going 1 1/8 miles on July 27 at Saratoga, Brown will cut Olympico back in distance. The 4-year-old gelding will carry 120 pounds with Hall of Famer John Velazquez on the mount in breaking from post 7.
Shadwell Stable's Emaraaty bested an eight-horse field of optional claimers at 1 1/16 miles on Saratoga turf labeled good on July 27, earning a 94 Beyer in his first start since winning three of his seven starts in his native Great Britain. Purchased for $3.48 million at the 2016 Tattersalls October Sale, the 4-year-old son of Dubawi will make his first North American stakes start carrying 117 pounds with Hall of Famer Javier Castellano retaining the mount from post 2.
Live Oak Plantation's March to the Arch, fourth last out in the Grade 1 Fourstardave Handicap at one mile, will look to benefit from the extra distance, where he thrived in winning the Grade 2 Wise Dan at 1 1/16 miles on June 15 at Churchill. The 4-year-old gelded son of Arch bested All Right by a neck on firm turf that day and earned a personal-best 103 Beyer for running a competitive race in coming from off the pace in the Fourstardave three weeks ago for trainer Mark Casse.
March to the Arch, carrying 122 pounds, will have Tyler Gaffalione aboard from post 1.
Dream Friend, making just his sixth career start, will step up to stakes company for the first time after running third in his Saratoga bow on July 27, setting the pace before finishing third at the Bernard Baruch distance over turf listed as good. The John Terranova trainee had won two of his previous three starts and will look to handle the elevated competition, drawing post 4 in carrying 116 pounds. Luis Saez will ride.
"He's a good grass horse and just coming up the ladder, so I figured we'd take a shot in a spot like this," Terranova said. "Right now, he's doing really well. With the weather on Monday, I heard there might be a lot of rain, but you never know. It's hard to say what the turf conditions will be like or what he's going to tolerate, but he's doing really well and I'm looking forward to seeing him in that start on Monday."
Carded as Race 9 on the 11-race card, the Bernard Baruch has a 5:18 p.m. Eastern post time. First post will go off at 12:30 p.m.