SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Breeze Easy’s Imprimis, a 6-year-old Broken Vow gelding, returns off a nine-month layoff as the 8-5 morning-line favorite in Saturday’s Grade 3, $200,000 Troy, a 5 1/2-furlong turf sprint for 4-year-olds and upward at Saratoga.
Trained by Joe Orseno, Imprimis won 5-of-7 starts in 2018 but the turf sprint specialist brought his game to another level last season when earning a career-best 110 Beyer Speed Figure in the five-furlong Silks Run off a six-month layoff at Gulfstream followed by making the grade in the Grade 2 Shakertown traveling 5 1/2-furlongs at Keeneland.
Imprimis shipped to Ascot last June for the Group 1 King’s Stand, a five-furlong sprint on the straightaway under Frankie Dettori, and more than held his own when sixth, defeated just 4 3/4-lengths by Blue Point.
“The experience at Ascot was second to none, but I wish I would have run him in the Diamond Jubilee [six furlongs] instead of the King’s Stand because I believe in my heart he could have ran third in there,” said Orseno. “I thought the five furlongs would have been better for him, but he ran against the best horses in the world and Frankie got off him and said, ‘Don’t worry, this horse was waiting on a turn and it cost him.’“
The dark bay gelding, bred in Florida by Craig L. Wheeler, made three starts in a brief fall campaign following his European adventure when fourth in the Grade 3 Runhappy Turf Sprint at Kentucky Downs; third in the Grade 2 Woodford at Keeneland; and a last-out sixth in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint in November.
“I really believe when I sent him to Ascot off the Silks Run and the Shakertown, that he was the best grass sprinter in the country,” said Orseno. “The trip to England didn’t really knock him out but it took him a while to recover. He had troubled trips at Kentucky Downs and Keeneland or he may have won both of those going into the Breeders’ Cup.”
During the offseason, Imprimis had a breathing issue corrected with a pair of surgeries.
“We knew he needed throat surgery all along, so we waited until after the Breeders’ Cup. The first surgery failed a little bit, so we went ahead and did a second one which was a total success,” said Orseno. “It took us some extra time but the plan all along was to run four times this year, so if we get three starts into him before the Breeders’ Cup that will be plenty. The Troy has been on my radar since last year.”
Orseno said Imprimis, who worked a sharp half-mile in 47.62 Saturday on the Gulfstream main track, has arrived at Saratoga in good order to the care of Spa-based conditioner Horatio DePaz.
“He shipped in to Saratoga on Wednesday and he’s doing fine,” said Orseno, who will be looking for his first graded win at the Spa since Perfect Sting captured the Grade 2 Diana in 2000. “I got a good report this morning that he jogged the wrong way on the main track with the pony. He’s there, he’s healthy and he’s ready.”
Orseno said a wet turf wouldn’t bother Imprimis who captured the 2018 Jim McKay Turf Sprint at Pimlico on very soft going.
“They went five-eighths in 1:03 at Pimlico that day – they were sinking to their knees – and he drew away from them. Soft is OK for this horse,” said Orseno.
Imprimis, who will exit post 1, will be reunited with jockey Jose Ortiz who guided the gelding to victory in the 2018 Wolf Hill at Monmouth Park. Orseno said he expects Imprimis to perform well off the layoff.
“He’s a very good fresh horse and he’s ready to run,” said Orseno. “Did I do enough as a trainer? Most trainers never think they did enough. I’m not crazy about the one-hole but it’s the hand we were dealt and fortunately we have a top rider on him that knows him, has won on him and to me it’s the right race to bring him back in.
“It’s a competitive field and just because he’s 8-5, I’m not going to get cocky about it,” added Orseno. “It’s Saratoga and when you go there you better be able to run. Hopefully, we bring our ‘A’ game.”
NYRA Press Release
Photo: Imprimis wins the 2019 Shakertown at Keeneland. Credit: Keeneland/Coady Photography