The roller-coaster of racing never seems to end and after a whirlwind week where we saw a three-year-old coming of age to win the Juddmonte International, Japan bringing the prize home to Ireland, we keep the momentum rolling as we focus on Saratoga’s SIX GRADE 1 races after the Ebor is run this afternoon. But as always with racing, when there’s a high there’s always a low to go with it, that came in the form of a pair of sucker-punches, where Roaring Lion lost his battle with Colic in tragic circumstances while back home in Ireland, Champion Hurdle Espoir D’Allen couldn’t be saved from an injury he sustained on the gallops. A testament to how much we need to enjoy these stars while they’re around.
The first of six Grade 1 contests comes in the form of the Forego Stakes over seven furlongs where MITOLE (8/11) bids to get himself back on track after blowing out last time over six furlongs. That effort can forgiven as the winner absolutely smashed the track record and the step back from one mile to six furlongs may have just been too sharp against some real specialists. The return to seven furlongs can play better to his strengths and having handed comfortable beatings to both Firenze Fire & Promises Fulfilled already this season he should take some stopping.
COME DANCING (1/1) heads the market for the second Grade 1 contest of the night and should be very hard to contain given how well she equipped herself over 1m 100yards in Grade 1 company last time out. She only found top racemare Midnight Bisou too good last time out and while there’s no shame in that fact, a case can be made that the trip stretched her. Dropping back to seven furlongs tonight she can use her natural speed more to her advantage. But she’ll need to be up to her best to repel Seperationofpowers whose all conquering stable have been firing in winners at Saratoga and all over America when it comes to Grade 1 races. That rival posted an impressive success on her second run since returning from a lay-off at Belmont last time out.
Another at seven furlongs and the return of one of the most talked about horses in North America, SHANCELOT (2/5), who smashed the track record round here last time out over six-and-a-half furlongs when landing a selection for our American Tips! He’s unbeaten to date and another blitzing start should seal this field’s faith early doors. Nitrous can battle it out with Hog Creek Hustle, that talented pair can count themselves unlucky to bump into what looks like a superstar in the making.
The fourth of six and the focus turns to the girls, with Midnight Bisou the likely favourite in search of an amazing sixth successive win. In spite of all her accomplishments she hasn’t scored at this trip (1m1f) or indeed in two prior attempts at Saratoga. Main market rival ELATE (2/1) has scored at this trip and was narrowly denied in this race last year off a similar prep. She gets 4lbs and may be positioned a bit closer to the pace than Midnight Bisou and may get an all important first-run on her Steve Amussen’s filly.
The sole turf Grade 1 on the card tonight over a mile-and-a-half for the stayers. A touch surprising to see Annals Of Time sitting on top of the market despite having a record of 4 wins from 7 start. No doubt the Chad Brown effect has caught a lot of punters’ imagination. He has a Grade 1 to his name last season but comes against some season veterans tonight, Sadler’s Joy produced a career best when third to Enable and Magical in the Breeders’ Cup last year and returned with a low-key run in the Bowling Green, a race he finished third in the last two years before finishing second & winning tonight’s event. The winner of that contest CHANNEL CAT (5/1) gets the nod ahead of the runner-up Ya Primo who warrants respect, he seems to have adjusted to life in America, going very close on that, his US Debut. The selection however from the Todd Pletcher yard confirmed his aptitude for these stamina tests when changing tactics and gunning from the front and lasting the whole way home; that effort provides significant optimism that he’ll further improve for this return to 1m4f.
The Travers Stakes
The main event of the card and the chance for 11 Colts & 1 Gelding to add their name to the roll of honour alongside recent winners like Catholic Boy, West Coast & Arrogate. TACITUS (3/1) currently heads the market alongside Code Of Honor, with the vote going to the Bill Mott’s Tacitus. The selection has been performing very well in the Classic races this season, 4th in the Kentucky Derby before 2nd in the Belmont Derby is strong form. Despite coming unstuck against the re-opposing Tax last time he had excuses, sloppy start and just failed to reel in the leader giving weight. Code Of Honour will no doubt be popular, the drop back in trip to a mile proved no obstacle to him when scoring in a Grade 3 last time out, that his first start since finishing 3rd in the Kentucky Derby. That effort can be marked up as he quickened up nicely off a sedate pace. He seems versatile in regard to trip and will merits serious respect as a consistent high class horse, he’ll offer plenty to think about to the selection. Mucho Gusto arrives as an unknown quantity for master-trainer Bob Baffert, he made Maximum Security pull out all the stops in the Grade 1 Haskell last time and shouldn’t be ignored despite stepping up a further furlong to unknown terrorist with regards to stamina.
Don’t forget you can view our American Tips every evening onsite from 7pm!