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Saratoga Race Course Notes - August 13

By NYRA Press Office | 08/13/2014 02:18 PM ET
Competitive Edge
PHOTO/Adam Coglianese

  • Competitive Edge turns in Tuesday breeze; G1 Hopeful next
  • Wildcat Red, now at Saratoga, continues preparations for G1 Ketel One King's Bishop
  • Moonlight Song, patiently handled by Charlton Baker, to face tough group in John Morrissey on Friday
  • Tahoe Tigress favored in Saratoga Dew on Thursday

Impressive debut winner Competitive Edge returned to the work tab for the first time since his runaway victory on July 26 at Saratoga Race Course.

Working in company with 3-year-old filly Our Amazing Rose, the juvenile son of 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver breezed four furlongs in 47.81 seconds over the main track on Tuesday under exercise rider Isabelle Bourez.

Todd Pletcher, who trains Competitive Edge for owners Nancy Favreau and Kathy Psoinos, said the bay colt remains on target for the Grade 1, $350,000 Hopeful at seven furlongs on closing day, September 1.

"It was more of the same," Pletcher said. "He's a very, very impressive work horse. He went 47 and change effortlessly, and he came out of it well. He's on schedule for the Hopeful."

In his unveiling, Competitive Edge led from the start and extended his advantage at every call before hitting the wire 10 ¼ lengths in front under a hand ride from Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez after running six furlongs in 1:09.89 on the main track.

"You never know when you run one for the first time," said Pletcher. "We were impressed but not surprised. He's continually shown us he's a very talented colt."

Entering Wednesday's card, Pletcher had run 29 2-year-olds at Saratoga with six wins, seven seconds and three thirds. One of the most impressive was Competitive Edge, whose sire gave Pletcher his first career Kentucky Derby victory.

"I was happy with the way he finished [his debut], happy with the way he galloped out," Pletcher said. "He has speed, but it looks like he has stamina. It's very exciting for us to have a son of Super Saver with this much talent. We're excited about his stud career and excited to have one of his sons in our barn that appears to be this talented."

Multiple graded stakes winner Wildcat Red galloped 1 1/8 miles over a muddy main track on Wednesday, his second morning at Saratoga. Regular exercise rider Pete Shelton was aboard.

Trained by Jose Garoffalo for Salvatore Delfino and Josie Martino's Honors Stable Corp., Wildcat Red arrived at mid-afternoon on Monday from Monmouth Park, where he ran third in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational on July 27.

The 3-year-old son of Grade 1-winning sprinter D'wildcat also galloped over the track Tuesday morning. Scheduled to breeze this weekend, he will make his next start in the Grade 1, $500,000 Ketel One King's Bishop on August 23.

"We went out in the rain, but the track was good," said Garoffalo's assistant, Nick Galati. "He loved Monmouth, and he hasn't missed a beat here. This is a lot different than he's used to, but he likes this track. He just does his business. This morning the rain just had him on his toes. That's a good sign."

Wildcat Red is stabled with trainer John Kimmel adjacent to the main track, where he has a view of horses walking to and from the track from his stall window as well as the traffic driving by on Union Avenue.

"There's a lot to look at. He likes that back window," said Galati. "He can look out at a row of horses across the way. It's amazing. It's relaxed him. He usually terrorizes the barn. Walking out to the track he stops and looks. It's good for him. It's good for everybody, don't you think?"

Bred in Florida, Wildcat Red made the first seven starts of his career at Garoffalo's Gulfstream Park base, winning the Grade 3 Hutcheson and Grade 2 Fountain of Youth and finishing second in the Grade 1 Florida Derby and Gulfstream Park Derby.

His neck loss to Constitution in the Florida Derby earned him a trip to the Kentucky Derby, where he finished 18th following a rough start. He returned to win a stakes at Gulfstream before pressing winner Bayern for much of the Haskell until passed late and finishing a length behind runner-up Albano.

"Other than the winner, he was the only one that really ran his race," said Galati. "He just lost second to that horse that was on the rail. It was a great effort. He looks like a million bucks. He filled out and muscled up and just looks awesome. He couldn't be happier."

Galati, 52, is a Long Island native who first came to Saratoga in 1976 and has worked on the NYRA circuit as an assistant for Hall of Fame trainers Allen Jerkens, Nick Zito and the late Bobby Frankel.

He has traveled to Kentucky, New Jersey and now New York with Wildcat Red, a $30,000 purchase who has banked $850,850 in 10 lifetime starts.

"Everything kind of happened gradually. He was just getting a little better and a little better. We didn't even talk about going to the Derby and then, all of a sudden, it happened," said Galati. "He's a gift. He's a special horse to be around. Other than the Derby, he's been there every single time."

Moonlight Song, a lightly raced Albert Fried homebred, appears to be in the best form of his career at the age of 7 thanks to patient handling by trainer Charlton Baker. On Friday, the gelding will face a tough group of New York-bred sprinters in the $100,000 John Morrissey at 6 ½ furlongs.

Also entered in the John Morrissey are 2013 Empire Classic Handicap winner Saratoga Snacks and Amberjack, the 2013 Mike Lee and New York Derby winner who will be making his second start off an 11-month layoff.

Two starts back, Moonlight Song won his first stakes when he took the Gold and Roses overnight stakes by 1 ½ lengths over Palace in January on the inner track at Aqueduct Racetrack. In his most recent start, he dead-heated for fourth in the Grade 3, seven-furlong Belmont Sprint Championship on July 5.

Baker said extensive schooling has been the key to helping Moonlight Song, a half-brother to graded stakes winner Giant Moon, reach his potential.

"He was a little nervous," said Baker. "He started his career late and he would get washed out. He's become more confident and more relaxed; that's had a lot to do with [his recent success]. We've spent more time with him. We've been taking it real slow with him. We've been taking him to the track and letting him walk. It's not like we were rushing him before, but now we're now really making it a point to take our time with him."

In the Belmont Sprint, Moonlight Song finished 6 ½ lengths behind the winner, Clearly Now, and was part of a four-horse photo finish for second. The runner-up, Palace, returned to take the Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap on August 2.

"Seven-eighths is a tough distance to come back in, but there wasn't another race in the book and he was ready to run," Baker said of the Belmont Sprint Championship.

Baker has a string on the NYRA circuit and at Finger Lakes, where he has won the George W. Barker Handicap six times. His most successful runner at NYRA's tracks has been Talking Treasure, who won the Bouwerie at Belmont and the Lady D'Accord, Fleet Indian, and Saratoga Dew at Saratoga between 2007 and 2008.

Coming off a win over Grade 1 Alabama contender Miss Besilu in her most recent start, Tahoe Tigress is the 2-1 program favorite in Thursday's $100,000 Saratoga Dew for New York-bred fillies 3 and up at 1 1/8 miles on the main track.

Trained by Jeremiah Englehart for owner Neal Allread, the 5-year-old Stephen Got Even mare beat Miss Besilu and four other rivals in an open 1 1/16-mile allowance on June 19 at Belmont Park, where she has earned six of her seven career wins.

Prior to that, Tahoe Tigress was second in the Judy Soda Stakes and fourth in both the Critical Eye and Touch Of Love against fellow state-breds. Co-topweight at 120 pounds in the field of seven, she will have the services of jockey Jose Ortiz, up for her last four victories.

Second choice on the morning line at 3-1 is the Mitch Friedman-trained entry of Carameaway and Dreaming of Cara. The 4-year-old Carameaway was second in three successive starts earlier this year, including an open allowance on Aqueduct's inner track in March, and was eighth behind La Verdad and Hot Stones in the Critical Eye on May 31. Dreaming of Cara, 5, is winless since taking three in a row in winter 2012.

Rajiv Maragh is named aboard Carameaway, while Cornelio Velasquez returns to ride Dreaming of Cara, both at 118 pounds.

Like Tahoe Tigress, both Easy Going (7-2) and Get Gorgeous (4-1) enter the Saratoga Dew off victories. Trained by Christophe Clement, Easy Going beat state-breds going a mile at Belmont on July 12, while the David Donk-trained Get Gorgeous has strung together back-to-back wins, most recently a second-level allowance at Belmont on June 25.

Rounding out the Saratoga Dew field are Royal Suspicion (8-1) and Little Rocket (10-1).