The final Saturday of the spring-summer stand before the circuit moves north for the boutique Saratoga Race Course meet features a 10-race card topped by the $150,000 Forbidden Apple going 1 mile on the turf and the Rockville Centre for New York-bred 2-year-olds.
Race 1 – 1.30PM EDT
Short field for the opener going 7 furlongs on the main track. Three of the five are running for $62,500 claiming tag, including Second City, who makes first start for Jeremiah Englehart off the claim. Englehart took him for $50,000 last month and strikes at 25 percent first off the claim. Scarly Charly, also entered for a tag, is significantly off the form of a year ago when he won similar races and finished close second in small stakes at Saratoga. Royal Squeeze returns to the main track after disappointing run in Grade 3 Jaipur on Belmont Stakes undercard. He showed speed in two prior races at Gulfstream before losing both races in the stretch.
Selections: Second City, Royal Squeeze, Escape to the Moon.
Race 2 – 2.01PM EDT
Chad Brown will collect his second straight training title and should add another victory in this 1-mile starter allowance on the grass with Emerald Pond. A winner for $40,000 claiming tag last time at 3/2, daughter of More Than Ready will have work cut out against the likes of Barrel of Dreams, Knee Socks and Forever for Always. Each of those three rivals exits strong races. Emerald Pond’s last might be a shade better, however, against next-out winner Aussie Prayer going 7 furlongs. Forever for Always and Knee Socks were second and third, respectively, in state-bred allowance on the grass.
Selections: Emerald Pond, Knee Socks, Barrel of Dreams.
Race 3 – 2.32PM EDT
Five state-bred 2-year-olds entered in 6-furlong Rockville Centre. Silver Mission is 2-for-2 for Todd Pletcher and handily won Tremont Stakes last time the day before the Belmont Stakes. Son of Mission Impazible – one of two in the race along with stablemate Ethan Hunt – made it look easy and third-place finisher Pachi Cruze flattered win when he came back to win small stakes at Woodbine. Cause for pause might be the fact that each of his wins came against small fields – four opponents in debut and just three in the Tremont. Runaway Lute earned fast figure winning by 12 lengths May 28 for Gary Contessa. Manifest Destiny is the only other winner in the bunch, taking a 5 1/2-furlong state-bred race at 10-1 for Bruce Brown.
Selections: Silver Mission, Runaway Lute, Manifest Destiny.
Race 4 – 3.04PM EDT
Maiden races for 3-year-olds and up usually don’t look so great at this point in the summer but this 1 1/16-mile test features an interesting twist as none of the seven entered have ever been favored in their previous races. Travis County came the closest, going off at just under 4-1 in his last start where he finished third, beaten just a half-length, in a similar spot. Second by a nose that day was I’m Amazing, who cost $1.6 million in 2014. T R Crew also lost by a nose in his last start June 22. Neither of Todd Pletcher’s entrants – Mini Sala and Howell Mountain – have made a very strong impression as of yet.
So where does one go in this heat? Travis County probably ran the better last race of the group considering he tossed his head at the start and was wide. I’m Amazing was on the lead in that May 29 race and should be again, most likely with company from Justalittlebitmore, who adds blinkers.
Selections: Travis County, Mini Sala, I’m Amazing.
Race 5 – 3.36PM EDT
Back to the grass for state-bred 7-furlong allowance. With Saratoga looming only nine entered, with For Later on the main-track only list. C d’Cat needed six starts to break her maiden last year, went to the shelf for the winter and returned with a strong second in similar spot back in June for Joe Sharp. She looks like a type that will need some pace to run at.
There doesn’t look like a ton of speed in here, although Same Kinda Crazy was forwardly placed in her last two, including a maiden-breaking win at this distance last time for Bruce Brown. She’s one of two for Brown, along with Sauvignon, claimed last fall and the winner of a weaker maiden-claiming race last time.
Selections: C d’Cat, Same Kinda Crazy, Lady Lucky.
Race 6 – 4.09PM EDT
Two making first starts for new barns off the claim take on two taking drops in class in 6-furlong sprint for $25,000 claimers. Distinctive Lady and Mastic are the two making their first starts for new connections, the former for Gary Contessa off $32,000 claim and the latter for Andrew Lakeman off $12,500 claim. Distinctive Lady was second for $40,000 and $32,000 in her last two starts, both at Belmont.
Two Step Flor and Nuffsaid Nuffsaid are the two making drops in class. Two Step Flor was useful allowance/claiming type on the West Coast before she was claimed in March by David Jacobson. She was non-threatening sixth as the favorite in allowance-optional May 23 at Delaware and got a two-month freshening. Nuffsaid Nuffsaid won a stakes in early April but didn’t look good when fifth for $40,000 tag in May. Danny Gargan freshened 7-year-old mare after that effort.
Selections: Nuffsaid Nuffsaid, Distinctive Lady, Time for Angie.
Race 7 – 4.41PM EDT
Seven of the nine 2-year-old fillies entered in 6-furlong turf maiden make their debuts, including the City Zip filly Fly Swift for trainer Christophe Clement. She’s a half sister to 2009 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Furthest Land, also a winner on grass and synthetic, and the Grade 2-placed Street Move. Clement also goes with Lull, first-time starter by War Front for Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider. She’s out of the winning Tiznow mare Quiet Now, whose pedigree is stamped by the late Edward Evans. Balayage is another War Front filly in the field and she’s a half sister to Grade 1-winning dirt sprinter Warrior’s Reward.
Selections: Fly Swift, Balayage, Elusive Gift.
Race 8 – 5.13PM EDT
The featured Forbidden Apple boils down to Force the Pass taking on Tapitation, King Kreesa and Lubash, first, second and fourth in the Kingston for New York-breds in late May. Force the Pass, winner of the Grade 1 Belmont Derby last year as a 3-year-old, exits second to Obviously in the Grade 3 Poker last time and ships in from Colts Neck Training Center (with Balayage in the previous race) for trainer Alan Goldberg. He’s never missed the board in 10 starts and stands above this group on class.
Lubash, a 16-time winner still racing as an unaltered 9-year-old, is trying to regain his past form that landed graded and state-bred stakes victories consistently through the years. Tapitation threw his hat in the ring that he’d be a player in the state-bred turf ranks winning the Kingston convincingly.
Selections: Force the Pass, Tapitation, King Kreesa.
Race 9 – 5.45PM EDT
Droppers galore in penultimate race on the card, a 1-mile event for $12,500 claimers. Finding Candy, Classic Giacnroll, Lideris and Street Chief all faced much better in last starts without success. Luckbox Sam was claimed for $20,000 two starts back then finished third – after making the lead in the midpoint of the race – at this level June 3. Cal-bred bounced from barn to barn racing on the West Coast last year and fits with this group.
Lideris, who ran in back-to-back editions of the Grade 1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita in 2014 and 2015 along with several other graded stakes, drops all the way to $12,500 after consecutive losses on the circuit in allowance-optional company. Classic Giacnroll is a former stakes competitor once considered a classics candidate two year ago who makes his first start off the $250,000 claim of David Cannizzo. He’s never run this cheap and merits a chance despite connections’ low percentages in races off the claim. Finding Candy reunites with Javier Castellano and is another dropping to the lowest level of his career.
Selections: Finding Candy, Classic Giacnroll, Point Hope.
Race 10 – 6.17PM EDT
A dozen go in the finale, a 7-furlong maiden claimer on the grass for state-breds and we’ll follow same protocol as always – eliminate the proven losers and try to uncover those with any potential. Double Mane, Mary’s in Utopia, That Warrior Girl and Night Night Kitty are a combined 0-for-56. Tossing them still leaves eight and of that group Subtle Lady, Irish Actor and Electrified deserve the most attention.
Electrified ran a promising race in debut last June then went to the sidelines for trainer George Weaver. He fares well off long layoffs and dropping from maiden special weight to maiden claiming, but daughter of Posse might need a race. Subtle Lady didn’t get a chance dropping in for a tag last time, losing the rider at the start at 4-1 in a similar spot. She ran a close third in maiden special weight company last fall on the grass and picks up John Velazquez. Linda Rice, who also trains Subtle Lady, adds blinkers to Irish Actor as she tries to improve for the fourth straight race.
Selections: Subtle Lady, Electrified, Love Blues, Irish Actor.