ELMONT, N.Y. – After passing his maiden test with aplomb, regally-bred Annapolis will take on his first stakes endeavor for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher in Saturday’s 43rd running of the Grade 2, $200,000 Pilgrim going 1 1/16 miles over the inner turf at Belmont Park.
The Pilgrim, which is named after Joseph Widener’s winner of the 1919 Remsen, has seen three of its last five winners go on to capture the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, including Oscar Performance , Structor  and Fire At Will .
Owned and bred by Bass Stables, Annapolis was a stylish winner on debut going 1 1/16 miles over the Saratoga inner turf on September 4. The bay son of prolific sire War Front, and first offspring out of graded stakes winner My Miss Sophia, was eighth down the backstretch and inched his way into contention approaching the far turn, drawing away in deep stretch to a 4 ½-length win. The first-out victory registered a 76 Beyer Speed Figure.
“He trained like he was going to run well in his debut, but it’s hard sometimes to win going a mile and a sixteenth first out,” Pletcher said. “He did everything right, settled in well, put in a good run and kicked on. He moved up on a nice field of horses and I couldn’t have asked for more on debut.”
Pletcher trained My Miss Sophia during her sophomore campaign, winning the Grade 2 Gazelle by open lengths before running second in the Grade 2 Kentucky Oaks in 2014. After being purchased for $2.15 million at the Fasig-Tipton November Sale, My Miss Sophia was transferred to Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott for a 4-year-old campaign, where she was twice graded stakes placed on grass.
“We never ran her on the turf, but she was a filly that always trained exceptionally well before her debut and seemed to get better and better,” Pletcher recalled. “She ran a great race in the Kentucky Oaks. She was a good mare, and it appears that she’s gone on to be a good producer.”
Irad Ortiz, Jr. will return to the irons from post 3.
Pletcher also entered Repole Stable’s Midnight Worker, who makes his turf debut following a stakes-placing.
The son of Outwork, a second-crop sire, was a narrow but game winner on debut in July going six furlongs at Saratoga. He stretched out to two turns for his following effort, garnering black type with a third-place finish in the one-mile Sapling on September 5 at Monmouth Park.
Midnight Worker has acclimated to the Belmont turf with a pair of breezes, including a half-mile on Sunday in 48.44 seconds – the fourth fastest of 20 recorded works at the distance.
Luis Saez will ride from post 2.
Chad Brown will seek his fourth Pilgrim triumph when saddling Portfolio Company, who seeks to build on a runner-up effort in the Grade 3 With Anticipation last out at Saratoga.
Owned by Seth Klarman’s Klaravich Stables’, Portfolio Company was a debut winner on July 17 over a good inner turf at Saratoga en route to the With Anticipation, where he garnered a field best 82 Beyer. Breaking from post 4 under Ortiz, Jr., Portfolio Company was rank heading into the first turn and was placed along the rail down the backstretch before being turned back when confronting pacesetter Coinage.
Brown said the Kitten’s Joy colt has been training with a new bit in advance of the Grade 2 Pilgrim.
“We’ve been working with the horse,” Brown said. “After that debut, he got a little keen with us and Irad had some trouble with him in that race, especially after he didn’t break that well and he was trying to catch up. It just was a big mess. We’re doing our best to get him to settle and changed some equipment on him. The horse seems to be doing pretty well.”
Joel Rosario will pick up the mount aboard Portfolio Company from post 1.
Limited Liability, third in the With Anticipation, will attempt to give owner Stuart Janney III and Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey their second collaborative Pilgrim victory after teaming up with Air Support in 2010.
The son of Kitten’s Joy was a late rallying 2 ¾-length winner of his July 31 debut over the Mellon turf at Saratoga, before coming off a slow pace and finishing a closing third in the With Anticipation.
Limited Liability added blinkers for a half-mile work in 50.24 over the Belmont inner turf Sunday and will wear them for Sunday’s race.
“He wasn’t keen with them. I’m just hoping he’ll engage a little earlier depending on the pace,” McGaughey said. “Last time, they went three quarters in 15 and we were four lengths off the pace, it’s hard to catch up.”
Limited Liability is out of the Blame mare Hold Harmless, whose prolific third dam Meghan’s Joy produced Grade 1-winning turf millionaire Ironicus, graded stakes-winning turf millionaire On Leave, dual graded turf stakes winner Quiet Harbor, and Norumbega, a graded stakes winner on dirt.
Jose Ortiz will ride from post 4.
Completing the field are Doctor Jeff [post 5, Jose Lezcano], who makes his turf debut for trainer Rudy Rodriguez; and maiden City At Night [post 6, Kendrick Carmouche], who will attempt to give his jockey, owner Three Diamonds Farm and trainer Mike Maker their collaborative second straight Pilgrim triumph following Fire At Will.
The Pilgrim is slated as Race 4 on Sunday’s 10-race card. First post is 1 p.m. Eastern.
Sunday’s program also includes the Grade 1, $400,000 Frizette, a one-mile “Win And You’re In” qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies; and the Grade 3, $300,000 Fasig-Tipton Waya for fillies and mares travelling 1 3/8 miles over the turf.
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Ryan Martin/NYRA Press Office
Photo Annapolis broke his maiden at first asking by 4 1/2 lengths on the turf at 1 1/16 miles at Saratoga on September 4, 2021, under Irad Ortiz, Jr. (NYRA/Coglianese)