by Brian Bohl
In his last two starts, WellSpring Stables’ Safe Conduct returned to the form that made him a Canadian Classic winner last year. He will look to continue that progression in his 4-year-old year as part of an eight-horse field in Saturday’s $135,000 Fasig-Tipton Lure going 1 1/16 miles over Saratoga Race Course’s Mellon turf.
The 10th running of the Lure, for 4-year-olds and up who have not won a graded stakes this year, will be one of five stakes on a stacked 12-race card that is highlighted by the Grade 1, $1 million Whitney for 4-year-olds and up going 1 1/8 miles; the Grade 1, $1 million Caesars Saratoga Derby Invitational as the second leg of the Caesars Turf Triple series for 3-year-olds; the Grade 1, $500,000 Longines Test for 3-year-old fillies sprinting seven furlongs; and the Grade 2, $250,000 Glens Falls at 12 furlongs on turf for older fillies and mares.
Safe Conduct, a maiden winner at second asking over the Spa turf in August 2020, notched his first stakes win in memorable fashion, outlasting the fast-closing Riptide Rock in a photo finish to capture the 2021 $1 million Queen’s Plate by a head. Off as the favorite in the first leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, Safe Conduct won going 1 1/4 miles over Woodbine Racetrack’s Tapeta surface.
The Bodemeister colt, bred in Ontario by Mitchell Kursner, closed his sophomore campaign with a runner-up effort in the Gio Ponti in November at Aqueduct Racetrack and a third-place finish in the Tropical Park Derby the day after Christmas at Gulfstream Park.
“He’s been training real well and seems to do much better when the weather cooled down,” said trainer Phil Serpe. “He’s continued to improve and seems to like Saratoga, so we’re hoping for a big effort on Saturday.”
Serpe gave Safe Conduct a little more than two months off before starting 2022 with a dull 11th-place effort in the Grade 2 Mac Diarmida at Gulfstream. But after shaking off the rust, he bested allowance company for a one-length win at the Lure distance on May 5 at Belmont and ran second to Sacred Life last out in the 1 1/8-mile Grade 3 Monmouth on June 18.
“All the races are important, but since that first race, he’s put on a little weight and filled out and has been looking good in his works,” Serpe said. “This distance should suit him pretty well.”
Tyler Gaffalione will pick up the mount from post 2.
Trainer Chad Brown won last year’s Lure edition with Flavius and has posted three wins in the race’s history since the inaugural running in 2014. The four-time Eclipse Award-winning conditioner will now send out a pair of contenders bred in Great Britain in Sifting Sands and Public Sector.
Peter Brant’s Sifting Sands will return to stakes company for the first time since closing his 3-year-old campaign with an eighth-place in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby in November at Del Mar.
The Dubawi colt ran sixth in his 2022 bow against allowance company on May 5 at Belmont before earning a career-best 94 Beyer Speed Figure for his half-length victory last out going one-mile over firm Belmont turf on July 3. He will compete at Saratoga for the first time since winning his first stakes contest in the Better Talk Now last August.
Manny Franco will be in the irons from post 7.
Public Sector, owned by Klaravich Stables, has already ran at the Saratoga summer meet, finishing third in the one-mile Grade 3 Forbidden Apple on July 15.
Off a quick turnaround, the winner of the Grade 2 Hill Prince in October at Belmont will look for additional Saratoga stakes success following his score in the Grade 3 Saranac in September 2021. Public Sector is a 4-year-old son of Kingman, who will carry a 5-3-2 ledger in 13 starts into the weekend. Flavien Prat will ride from post 1.
Skychai Racing and David Koenig’s Somelikeithotbrown has posted Beyers of 90 or better in seven consecutive races, which have encompassed wins in the 2021 Grade 2 Dinner Party and the Mohawk against state-breds in November to close out his year.
Bred in New York by Hot Pink Stables and Sand Dollar Stables, the 5-year-old Somelikeithotbrown has amassed an 8-6-4 career record in 25 starts for purse earnings in excess of $1.2 million. The Mike Maker trainee made his seasonal bow with a fifth-place finish in the Kingston in May at Belmont before running third in the Jonathan B. Schuster Memorial in July at Horseshoe Indianapolis.
Irad Ortiz, Jr. has the assignment out of post 8.
South Bend, owned by Pantofel Stable, Wachtel Stable, Gary Barber and Peter Deutsch, ran sixth in last year’s Lure for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott but went on to run second in the Grade 3 Harlan’s Holiday in December at Gulfstream Park.
In his 5-year-old year, the son of Algorithms will be looking for his first win in his fifth start this campaign, drawing post 3 with Joel Rosario aboard.
Rounding out the field is Mrs. Fitriani Hay’s Duke of Hazzard, the runner-up in the Seek Again in May at Belmont for trainer Wesley Ward [post 4, Jose Ortiz]; NBS Stable’s T D Dance, ninth in the Grade 3 Monmouth last out in his first start for trainer Jason Barkley [post 6, Luis Saez]; and Flying P Stable and James Schurman’s Dynadrive, a winner going 1 1/4 miles against optional claimers last out on July 1 at Belmont, trained by Tom Morley [post 5, Eric Cancel].
The Fasig-Tipton Lure is slated as Race 5 on Saturday’s 12-race card. First post is 12:35 p.m. Eastern.
Saratoga Live will present daily coverage and analysis of the summer meet at Saratoga Race Course on the networks of FOX Sports. For the complete broadcast schedule, visit https://www.nyra.com/saratoga/racing/tv-schedule.
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