Saratoga Notebook - August 5

Profile Picture: John Mucciolo

August 5th, 2015

A six-pack of fine graded stakes races took the spotlight during the second week of racing at Saratoga Race Course.

Alfred G. Vanderbilt S. (G1): Stonestreet Stables’ ROCK FALL (Speightstown) moved four-wide into the lane and got the best of a head bob with The Big Beast (Yes It’s True), whose jockey John Velazquez lost the whip leaving the far turn. With the nose win, Rock Fall earned his initial Grade 1 tally and sixth straight overall victory. The Todd Pletcher trainee was guided home by Javier Castellano and completed six furlongs in a rapid 1:08 3/5. 

Amsterdam S. (G2): Jerry Durant’s HOLY BOSS (Street Boss) pressed the pace to the top of the lane, took command in early stretch and powered home a 2 ¼-length winner for trainer Steve Asmussen. The three-year-old colt finished off 6 ½ panels on the fast main oval in 1:15 1/5 under Ricardo Santana Jr.

Jim Dandy S. (G2): Brehm et al’s TEXAS RED (Afleet Alex) tracked in second, took the lead in early stretch and held off a stern challenge from Frosted (Tapit) to register a half-length win under Kent Desormeaux. The Keith Desormeaux trainee got nine furlongs on the fast main strip in 1:48 3/5.

Bowling Green H. (G3): Twin Creek Racing’s homebred RED RIFLE (Giant’s Causeway) split runners to make the lead nearing midstretch and easily proved best in a tragic-filled 1 3/8-mile turf affair (favored Innovation Economy fatally broke down on the backstretch). The five-year-old gelding posted a fine 2 ½-length win for Pletcher and stopped the teletimer in 2:13 3/5 with Castellano.

Shuvee H. (G2): Town and Country Farms’ STOPCHARGINGMARIA (Tale of the Cat) overtook the early leader in early stretch and gamely held that stubborn foe off late to post a one-length decision for Pletcher and Castellano. The ultra-talented four-year-old filly finished off 1 1/8 miles on the fast main surface in 1:49 1/5.

Honorable Miss H. (G2): Lady Sheila Stable’s LA VERDAD (Yes It’s True) seized the lead soon after the break and never looked back in posting a four-length score beneath Jose Ortiz. The Linda Rice trainee clocked six panels on the fast main oval in a sharp 1:09.

Track Stats

A total of 62 races were held at the Saratoga Springs, New York venue, with favorites winning at a 30 percent rate and the top two betting choices combining for 58 percent of the wins during the week. From 31 races on the main oval, eight animals won in wire-to-wire fashion (26 percent), while six of the 31 races on the lawn were taken all the way on the front (19 percent).

Speed was good early in the week when eight of the first 22 races on the dirt were taken in wire-to-wire fashion, but none of the dirt races on Sunday or Monday were won in the same fashion. Of the eight, seven came in sprint runs.

The turf course played fairly we thought, with a tiny edge towards speed in the grassy dashes. Of the two that came in route runs both occurred on the inner turf going two turns.

Meet Totals












32 (31%)



25 (24%)



10 (19%)



14 (28%)



Wednesday (7/29)

6TH – SUCCESSFUL RUNNER (Successful Appeal) moved into contention in early stretch and nearly ran down a clear leader, just missing in a fine try. The six-year-old, who was unraced since September, could be a fine claim for conditioner Mike Maker.

Thursday (7/20)

3RD – SUDDEN SURPRISE (Giant Surprise) sped to the front early on and never looked back in posting a smart first-out tally for trainer Todd Pletcher. The New York-bred juvenile colt was 13 lengths clear of the third-place runner and is likely headed to a stakes race in his subsequent outing.

4TH – On a day when speed was good on the main oval, JOHN’S ISLAND (Posse) put in a nice run from the back of the pack to be a nice second in this dash for conditioner Jimmy Jerkens. Watch where the Jimmy Jerkens trainee shows next as his form is solid.

5TH – TRUE PLEASURE (Yes It’s True) couldn’t catch the tough debut winner, but this first timer stayed on well to be a great second while more than five lengths clear of third. The Bill Mott-trained filly figures to only improve off this performance.

Friday (7/31)

4TH – SMART TRANSITION (Smart Strike) surely put it all together in this stakes run, dominating a talented field for conditioner John Shirreffs. The sophomore colt was full of energy in the lane and could be a Travers type for a very heady barn.

10TH – DIVA EXPRESS (Afleet Express) broke slowest off the rail but soon got into contention and closed best of all to take this turf dash going away. The Mark Casse trainee should be a big factor when he faces winners with anything like this run.

Saturday (8/1)

4TH – FUTURE SHOW (Malibu Moon) got off slow in her debut but was running on late and finished a nice second for conditioner Graham Motion. The three-year-old filly surely won’t be a maiden for long with any improvement.

10TH – Texas Red appeared to be sitting on a big race and delivered, holding off a major player. We love the way the talented colt showed improved speed from the gate and he rates as a potential serious player in the upcoming Travers in our opinion.

Sunday (8/2)

2ND – RACHEL’S VALENTINA (Bernardini) got off slow but gathered herself and was full of run late in posting a two-length tally in her career debut under John Velazquez. The juvenile filly, who is out of Rachel Alexandra, could surely be any kind if she runs to her pedigree for Pletcher.

6TH – Pletcher’s IAN SMITH (Wildcat Heir) tracked the pace, took the lead in the lane and held on well to be second in a very good first run in this grassy dash. The two-year-old colt should be very tough next time with one under his belt.

A Look Ahead

Four graded races will take place at Saratoga this weekend. Friday will play host to the $200,000 National of Racing Museum Hall of Fame S. (G2) for sophomores on the turf. Saturday has a trio of graded races carded – the $1.25 million Whitney H. (G1); $500,000 Test S. (G1); and the $200,000 Waya S. (G2).