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Saratoga Race Course Notes - July 21

By NYRA Press Office | 07/21/2013 02:29 PM ET
Palace Malice
PHOTO/Adam Coglianese

  • Palace Malice breezes a half for G2 Jim Dandy
  • Princess of Sylmar, Authenticity doing well after stakes wins; busy morning for Pletcher
  • Will Take Charge readied for G2 Jim Dandy
  • Royal Delta targeting G1 Personal Ensign following Del ‘cap repeat
  • Mike Lee Stakes, NY Derby winner Amberjack will attempt Big Apple Triple sweep in Albany
  • Eblouissante emerges from Shuvee with minor injuries following starting gate misadventure
  • Palace Dreams an exciting prospect for Duggan

Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice signaled his readiness for next Saturday’s Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy by breezing four furlongs in 49.77 seconds on Sunday at Saratoga Race Course.

Working alone, Palace Malice ran the opening quarter-mile of his workout in 25 seconds flat and never was asked for his best effort by exercise rider Jake Nelson.

It was the fifth workout for Palace Malice since his victory in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes on June 8. His past three works all have come over the main track at Saratoga.

“I thought he worked very well,” said Todd Pletcher, who trains Palace Malice for Dogwood Stable. “We were looking for a little easier work than he’s been getting and that was executed well, good gallop out, seems like he’s in good form.

“I think he’s done super since the Belmont. If anything, he’s gotten bigger and stronger, and it seems like he took that race really well. He’s getting better all the time. He’s been really push-button. After the Belmont was the first time we breezed him by himself, and I wasn’t sure what to expect, but he seems to handle that really well. He was relaxed, but he picked it up when he needed to.”

The Belmont Stakes was the first black-type win for Palace Malice, who broke his maiden last August at Saratoga in his second start.

Pletcher reported Sunday morning that both Grade 1 TVG Coaching Club American Oaks winner Princess of Sylmar and Grade 3 84 Lumber Shuvee Handicap victress Authenticity emerged from their efforts in good order.

Next up for Princess of Sylmar likely will be the Grade 1 Alabama on August 17, while Authenticity remains on target for the following weekend’s Grade 1 Personal Ensign Invitational, in which she is expected to face Royal Delta, 10 ¾-length winner of Saturday’s Grade 1 Delaware Handicap.

“Obviously, if the Royal Delta that ran yesterday shows up in the Personal Ensign, we’re all running for second,” said Pletcher. “We’ll give it a try anyway.”

While Palace Malice was the center of attention on the worktab this morning, Pletcher had a host of other horses prepping for upcoming stakes, among them Kauai Katie, who went a half-mile in 50.03 seconds for Saturday’s Grade 1 Prioress, accompanied by Overanalyze, who is prepping for the Grade 2 West Virginia Derby.

“Neither are overly enthusiastic work horses; they tend to run better than they breeze so I thought they’d make good mates,” Pletcher said. “They were head-and-head throughout and went well.

“Kauai Katie is good at six furlongs; I think she handles seven very well also,” he added. “We’re hoping for a favorable post position draw. She showed she likes Saratoga here last year [maiden win and Grade 2 Adirondack victory], so we’ll see what we can do.”

Cross Traffic, nosed out in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap last time, worked in 1:00.86 in company with Midnight Taboo as he readies for a start in the Grade 1, $750,000 Whitney Invitational Handicap on August 3.

“It’s going to be interesting,” Pletcher said of the 4-year-old Unbridled’s Song colt, who in his first stakes start was beaten a head by Flat Out in the Grade 3 Westchester. “He’s been so fast, it’s hard to imagine him being too far off the pace going 1 1/8 miles, but there is some other speed in there so we’ll just have to see. We’re not going to look to take him back, but hopefully he will relax a little bit going two turns. I think he’s got the type of personality that suggests he will.”



Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas had Triple Crown veteran Will Take Charge open up through the stretch this morning in preparation for Saturday’s Grade 2 Jim Dandy.

“Both he and [Preakness winner] Oxbow breezed through the stretch,” said Lukas of the duo, the latter who is headed to the Haskell at Monmouth Park. “Because of the heat and everything we’d been having, I didn’t want to put another stressful work into them. They’re dead fit. I just let them come off the turn and they breezed pretty strong through the stretch.”

Will Take Charge, winner of the Grade 2 Rebel on March 16 at Oaklawn Park, had trouble lines in each of the three Triple Crown races. He was checked at the three-sixteenths pole making a five-wide move in the Kentucky Derby, finishing eighth, and brushed at the start of both the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes, in which he finished seventh and 10th, respectively.

“He was moving beautifully in the Derby but he got stopped,” said Lukas. “That could have made him right there. I’m not saying he would have won it, but he was moving with Orb at the time and would have been right there. He’s had some rough trips. I’m hoping this track with bigger, wider turns will be a little better for him.”

The decision on which path to take to the Grade 1, $1 million Travers on August 24 was made based on the two colt’s dispositions, said Lukas.

“From a standpoint of their dispositions and condition, I thought it was better that Will Take Charge remain here for the Jim Dandy and run out of his own stall rather than ship again; I didn’t want to ship him again,” he said. “I thought it would serve him [better] to take this one trying to get to the Travers.”

Lukas has saddled two Jim Dandy winners: Is It True (1989) and Scorpion (2001).


Any conjecture that 5-year-old champion mare Royal Delta may not be the horse she was in the past appeared dispelled Saturday when she won the Grade 1 Delaware Handicap by 10 ¾ widening lengths.

Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott said the race set her up for a run in the Grade 1, $600,000 Personal Ensign Invitational at 1 1/8 miles on August 25 at Saratoga.

After winning the Grade 3 Sabin Stakes at Gulfstream in her seasonal debut, Royal Delta traveled to Dubai for her second try at the World Cup and faded to 10th after racing on the lead. She subsequently was upset June 15 in her return to the races, beaten by Funny Proposition in the Grade 2 Fleur De Lis at Churchill Downs.

Royal Delta put it all back together at Delaware Park, however, going straight to the front and leading by five lengths after a half-mile, seven after three-quarters and completing the 1 ¼-mile race in 2:02.04.

“That was a great performance by her, and it looked like she was back to her championship form,” Mott said. “She’ll go in the Personal Ensign next. That’s our plan, providing she’s doing well and is healthy.”

Asked whether he was surprised when no other riders challenged Royal Delta early, Mott said, “You never really know. If we knew that, we’d map out the race beforehand. It looked like, if all things went as it looked on paper, she might be on the lead, but who knows she’s going to open up that kind of lead? The way it appeared yesterday, nobody could get close to her.”

Mott also said 4-year-old filly Glorious View, winner of the Grade 2 Vagrancy Handicap on May 18 at Belmont Park, was on course for a run July 29 in the Grade 2, $200,000 in the Honorable Miss.

“She’s at Belmont and will work Monday or Tuesday and come up right after,” Mott said of the daughter of Pleasant Tap, who has strung together four wins after taking seven attempts to break her maiden. “She was just a slow learner. She always worked well but never really put it together in the afternoon, and I guess it really clicked. She showed a fair amount of ability from the beginning. Now she has confidence. They start thinking that they can win, and it really helps them.”


Amberjack was resting comfortably at trainer Mike Hushion’s barn in Saratoga on Sunday morning, following his impressive 6 ½-length victory in Saturday’s $150,000 New York Derby at Finger Lakes.

The win, coupled with his triumph in the $125,000 Mike Lee Handicap at Belmont Park on June 1, puts Amberjack in line to clinch the Big Apple Triple for New York-breds which concludes with the $150,000 Albany Handicap at Saratoga on August 21.

There is a $250,000 bonus for the connections of a horse that sweeps all three legs. Tin Cup Chalice in 2008 is the only horse to do so since the series was originated in 1999.

“It’s pretty interesting being a triple crown trainer,” Hushion said. “The crew all came back last night. He’s doing fine.”

Owned by Peachtree Stable, Amberjack has won three straight races including the seven-furlong Mike Lee and the New York Derby, which is contested at 1 1/16 miles.

Hushion said he was not concerned about stretching out the chestnut Indygo Shiner colt, who is 4-for-6 lifetime with $255,355 in purse earnings.

Ridden by Jose Espinoza, Amberjack broke from the rail in the six-horse New York Derby field, swung three wide heading into the stretch and split rivals before catching Smooth Bert at the eighth pole and drawing away.

“I was pretty confident in the two turns,” Hushion said. “Usually, I like to see it first, but I didn’t think it would be a problem. When you’re getting rated down on the inside, it usually doesn’t work out that good. He ate a lot of dirt, more than he has probably ever before.

“I still wasn’t sure at the top of the stretch until he hit that seam and took off. Wow. Fast horses do great things. It doesn’t matter how the race sets up.”

Amberjack will stretch out again in the Albany, which is run at 1 1/8 miles.

“It shouldn’t be a problem, if things stay like they have been,” Hushion said. “It’s a nice amount of time.”

Meanwhile, Hushion said Bridgehampton will miss Saturday’s Grade 1, $300,000 Prioress after spiking a fever. The daughter of Bernardini was caught late and finished second in the Grade 3 Victory Ride on June 29 at Belmont Park in her most recent start.

“She’ll probably miss a week,” Hushion said. “We’ll give her two weeks to get back, so it’ll probably be three weeks from now when she’ll be ready to run. We’ll wait and see.”

Hushion remains pleased with the progress of Breeders’ Cup Sprint runner-up The Lumber Guy, who he hopes to bring back to defend his title in the Grade 1 Vosburgh. The Lumber Guy was seventh as the favorite in his lone start this year, the Grade 2 San Carlos Stakes at Santa Anita on February 23.

“I’m very happy with him,” Hushion said. “We’ll find some sort of an overnight stakes to get him pointed toward the Vosburgh.”

*          *          *

Trainer John Shirreffs reported Sunday morning that Eblouissante emerged from Saturday’s Grade 3, $200,000 Shuvee Handicap with minor injuries after acting up in the starting gate.

“She got banged up, but it’s all pretty superficial,” Shirreffs said. “She broke two teeth and grabbed herself in a couple spots on her legs, but nothing really serious.

“I feel really lucky that she didn’t seriously injure herself. I think that’s a credit to the assistant starter, who kept her from flipping over and getting underneath the gate. It was a bad situation but not a tragedy.”

Owned by Maverick Racing, the 4-year-old Eblouissante, a half-sister to Horse of the Year Zenyatta, was making her stakes debut in the Shuvee, her first start in 189 days following an optional claiming victory on January 17 at Santa Anita.

Ridden by Rosie Napravnik, subbing for jockey Junior Alvarado who was banged up earlier on Saturday’s card, Eblouissante bumped with Moon Philly after leaving the gate and ran at the back of the pack, finishing last of six.

“For her, it was [over at the start]. She lost all her focus and everything,” Shirreffs said. “Obviously, it’s disappointing, but it’s one of those things that happens with horses. You can’t always predict the outcome or what they’re going to do. You just accept it and try to improve.”

Shirreffs said Eblouissante had not shown any signs of gate trouble in either of her first two starts.

“Never, but she’s a big horse and the gate is somewhat tight, so she could be a little claustrophobic,” he said. “Who knows what sets a horse off at that moment? Whatever it was, it really set her off.

“We’ll give her a few days to heal up a little bit. Obviously, we’re going to have to take her to the gate and school her, spend a lot of time in the gate and get over whatever it was that set her off. Then we’ll just come back and start over again.”

Shirreffs hopes to get another start for Eblouissante at Saratoga, where the trainer is spending his first full summer this year.

“We’ll look to bring her back probably in a little lower-profile race,” he said. “It’s hard to say until we get her back on the track.”


Trainer David Duggan has an exciting charge in New York-bred filly Palace Dreams, who drew away by 4 ¾ lengths to win an open first-level turf allowance race on Saturday afternoon at Saratoga Race Course.

“I’m delighted with her,” Duggan said after the 1 1/16-mile race. “That was huge today. She proved she’s legitimate; when they get through this condition it’s going to get a little tougher, but still, for a 3-year-old filly, that’s a lot. I’ll take it.”

Duggan has options but no firm plans for the daughter of Freud, who is eligible for the New York Stallion Series (NYSS). The Statue of Liberty division of the NYSS, run at one-mile on the turf for 3-year-old fillies, is scheduled for August 8. Campaigned by Patricia L. Moseley, Palace Dreams broke her maiden going seven furlongs on the Belmont Park turf on June 20. She previously had finished second in a one-mile turf maiden race on May 27.

“Get through this was the first plan, and then make a plan after that,” Duggan said. “She was never a good workhorse on the dirt, so we put her on the infield turf [at Belmont Park] and she was just a different filly. That was it. We knew where we were going after that.”