Rock Fall to clash with Salutos Amigos in Vanderbilt

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

July 29th, 2015

Rock Fall, Todd Pletcher's budding star sprinter who comfortably dispensed with six rivals in the June 5 True North (G2) at Belmont, has a potentially interesting showdown Saturday with Salutos Amigos in the $350,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt H. (G1) at Saratoga.

A winner in five of six starts, all in succession, Rock Fall climbed to near the top of the sprint hierarchy with his dominating 3 3/4-length romp in the True North, and looks to continue his progression toward the Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) in this.

Salutos Amigos, trained by David Jacobson, has won all three U.S. appearances this season. After winning the Toboggan (G3) and Tom Fool H. (G3) during the Aqueduct winter meet, the gelding shipped to Dubai where he finished eighth in the Golden Shaheen (G1). He bounced back in his stateside return, easily capturing the $76,000 Mr. Prospector in the slop at Monmouth Park.

The primary speed in the Vanderbilt is Favorite Tale, recent winner of the Smile Sprint (G2) at Gulfstream. He'll break outside all six rivals of rivals. Other notables in the field are last year's King's Bishop (G1) winner The Big Beast, fourth in the Carter H. (G1) when last seen in April, and Departing, who cuts back in trip and returns to dirt after taking the Firecracker (G2) at Churchill Downs over a mile on turf.

The venerable $250,000 Bowling Green H. (G2) has found a new home at Saratoga after being held at Belmont and Aqueduct throughout its history. The 1 3/8-mile grass test has been repositioned as a prep for the $1 million Sword Dancer (G1) over 1 1/2 miles August 29.

Leading contenders in the Bowling Green include Belmont Gold Cup winner Innovation Economy, Grade 1 veteran Imagining, Grade 3 victor War Dancer, and multiple graded stakes winner Red Rifle.

The $200,000 Amsterdam (G2), a six-furlong dash for three-year-olds that serves as a prelude for next month's King's Bishop, features March, winner of the Woody Stephens (G2) and Bay Shore (G3) winner; Holy Boss, hero of the $100,000 Chick Lang and $100,000 Bachelor; Hutcheson (G3) winner Barbados, recent runner-up in the Carry Back (G3); and Chick Lang runner-up Victory Is Sweet.

Returning from an extended layoff is The Great War, fourth in last fall's Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) in his only previous attempt on dirt.

(Rock Fall photo: David Alcosser/Adam Coglianese Photography)