Grand Arch could make another big run in Fourstardave
Although sixth by 10 lengths to loose-on-the-lead Obviously in the Poker, Grand Arch has proven far superior in the one-mile Fourstardave over Saratoga's inner turf. Two years ago, Grand Arch missed by a neck to Seek Again at odds of 11-1, and last year avenged that defeat while also turning back a belated challenge from the star miler Ironicus to register an 8-1 upset by a neck.
Although Ironicus didn't make this year's edition, Grand Arch should benefit from the return presence of King Kreesa, who set the pace in last year's Fourstardave before grudgingly backing out late. The speedy New York-bred exits a photo-finish score in the $144,000 Forbidden Apple at Belmont.
Besides Grand Arch, Takeover Target also had little chance to make headway in the Poker. Winner of the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame (G2) at the Spa last summer, the four-year-old had turned in a blistering rally to take the Dixie (G2) at Pimlico two back, catching Grade 1 veteran Ring Weekend in the final strides.
The Dixie was the first race back from a 14 1/2-month layoff for Ring Weekend, who landed the Saranac (G3) on the Mellon Turf two years ago. Also that summer, Ring Weekend missed to Tourist in the $100,000 Sir Cat, and that rival has subsequently placed four times in Grade 1 company.
Force the Pass has placed in five straight races since landing last year's Belmont Derby (G1), most recently finishing second by a nose in the Forbidden Apple to King Kreesa. Graded scorers Reporting Star and Blacktype could be in the mix for minor shares with their best efforts, while A Lot is a consistent check earner but might be more effective in one-turn sprints.
Silvertoni, who captured both starts in Kentucky this spring including the $100,000 Kentucky Juvenile against males at Churchill Downs, returns to dirt in the $200,000 Adirondack (G2), a 6 1/2-furlong prep for the Spinaway (G1) later in the meet.
A two-length winner in both her Keeneland debut and the Kentucky Juvenile for Wesley Ward, Silvertoni was no match for star European colt Caravaggio in the Coventry (G2) at Royal Ascot in mid-June.
"I think she can 'grass' as well, but she caught soggy turf over there," Ward said. "She's a big filly and she was just kind of sinking into it. She's only going to get better as she goes further. She has a big, strong, lengthy stride and it's tough to get by her because she just keeps running."
Libby's Tail and Ever So Clever, Belmont and Churchill debut winners, respectively, figure to take significant action, while Todd Pletcher is represented by Nonna Mela, who broke her maiden by more than seven lengths at Monmouth last month. Pletcher trained Monmouth graduate Sweet Loretta to victory in the Schuylerville (G3) earlier in the meet.
(Adam Coglianese Photography)