Moretti continues Pletcher’s dominance in $100K Birdstone

August 3, 2020

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Repole Stable and Eclipse Thoroughbred PartnersMoretti repelled a challenge from Rocketry at the top of the stretch and posted a popular 1 ½-length triumph in Sunday’s $100,000 Birdstone at Saratoga Race Course, continuing trainer Todd Pletcher’s dominance of the 1 ¾-mile dirt marathon.

It was the fifth win in nine runnings of the Birdstone for Pletcher, whose previous victories came with Rule [2011], San Pablo [2012], Repole-owned Micromanage [2014] and Hard Study [2017]. Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano earned his fourth win in the race, following Rule, Micromanage and Turco Bravo [2016].

American Tattoo, a one-time Pletcher trainee, got to the front under a snug hold from Luis Saez to lead the five-horse field through an opening quarter-mile in 25.67 seconds under mild pressure from Expert while Castellano positioned Moretti in the clear, three wide in third. Moretti’s stablemate You’re to Blame was unhurried in fourth as Rocketry, third in last year’s Birdstone, trailed the field.

The half went in 51.49 with American Tattoo and Expert still leading the way, as You’re to Blame edged Moretti for third and Rocketry remained the trailer. The order stayed the same through splits of 1:17.75 and 1:43.79 when Expert ranged up to forge a short lead over You’re to Blame as American Tattoo dropped back after running 1 ¼ miles in 2:08.51 on the fast main track.

Moretti, racing without blinkers following his come-from-behind second to Tacitus in the Grade 2 Suburban last out on July 4 at Belmont Park in his most recent effort, established command once straightened for home and faced a challenge from Rocketry, who had followed Moretti’s move on the far outside. The top two set down for a drive to the wire that was decided when Moretti edged clear past the eighth pole, completing the distance in 2:58.51.

“At one point in the race, I thought I might have made a mistake [removing blinkers] because he seemed like he was almost a little too relaxed,” Pletcher said, “But I know in these kinds of races you can’t have a horse that’s pulling too much. The main thing is I wanted him to settle into a good rhythm and it seemed like he was doing that. He was always responding well when Javier asked him to maintain his position. He finished up well.”

You’re to Blame came flying late to edge Rocketry by a nose for second. Expert was another 7 ½ lengths back in fourth, followed by American Tattoo. Highland Sky, who ran third but was promoted to second following the disqualification of first-place finisher Sadler’s Joy in Saturday’s Grade 2, $250,000 Bowling Green, and Standard Deviation were scratched.

Moretti, a 4-year-old son of multiple Grade 1-winning $5 million earner Medaglia d’Oro bred in Kentucky by Thor-Bred Stables, fetched $900,000 out of Fasig-Tipton’s 2017 Saratoga Selected Yearling Sale but had never run at Saratoga. After racing only twice at 2 and three times at 3, he has made six starts this year and won three of the last four including the 1 3/8-mile Flat Out on June 11 at Belmont Park.

“This horse never gets tired. I love this horse and I like the way he performs,” Castellano said. “He’s an old pro and he knows what he’s doing. No matter if you’re on the lead, on the pace or coming from behind, he’s steady, steady, steady. He’s always consistent.”

Sent off as the 6-5 mutuel favorite, Moretti returned $4.60 for a $2 win bet.

The Birdstone was the second consecutive win on Sunday’s program for Pletcher, who also took the eighth race with Bass Racing’s Fort Worth. A New York-bred son of City Zip that sold for $550,000 as a 2-year-old in training in 2018, Fort Worth ran six furlongs in 1:09.71 over a fast main track to take the second-level state-bred allowance by 2 ¼ lengths.

It was a big effort. He had been training really well. Of course, you’re always concerned off a long layoff like that but I liked the way he had been training and it looked like he was ready. It was an impressive time, too,” Pletcher said.

“We just had a couple little setbacks along the way and had to stop a couple different times. It’s a credit to the Bass family for how patient they are with a horse that they feel like has some talent,” he added. “He was a little unlucky first time out. You look back and he ran against Shancelot in his debut and we know how fast that horse is. It was just nice to see the horse get back in action.”

2020 Birdstone Replay

Live racing returns Wednesday to Saratoga to open the third full week of racing with a 10-race program that includes the $85,000 Summer Colony at 1 1/8 miles for fillies and mares 4 and older in Race 4 at 2:29 p.m. First post is 12:50 p.m. Eastern.

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The Stakes Keep Rolling at Saratoga: Fields, Probables & Possibles for Week 4

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 5

First post 12:50 p.m. ET

$85,000 Summer Colony

Race 4, post time 2:29 p.m. ET 

Field (post, horse, sire, trainer, jockey, owner)

1. Golden Award (Medaglia d’Oro) – Bill Mott – Junior Alvarado – Summer Wind Equine 

2. Bellera (Bernardini) – Todd Pletcher – John Velazquez – Mathis Stable LLC, Madaket Stables LLC and Doheny Racing Stable

3. Always Shopping (Awesome Again) – Todd Pletcher – Jose Ortiz – Repole Stable 

4. Nonna Madeline (Candy Ride {ARG}) – Todd Pletcher – Irad Ortiz, Jr. – Teresa Viola Racing Stables and St. Elias Stable

5. Bossy Bride (Malibu Moon) – Rob Atras – Manny Franco – Lawrence P. Roman 

Entries for Wednesday, August 5

https://www.equibase.com/static/entry/SAR080520USA-EQB.html

THURSDAY, AUGUST 6

First post 1:10 p.m. ET

$100,000 NYSSS Cab Calloway

Race 8, post time 5:14 p.m. ET 

Field (post, horse, sire, trainer, jockey, owner)

1. Fresco (Freud) – Christophe Clemente – Irad Ortiz, Jr. – Oak Bluff Stables

2. Shuy Town Baby (Bellamy Road) – Mark Casse – Dylan Davis – C T R Stables LLC (Ferreira)

3. Zipalong (Central Banker) – Michelle Nevin – Manny Franco – Earl D. Bellamy  

4. Turbo Drive (Teuflesberg) – Mike Maker – Luis Saez – Three Diamonds Farm 

5. Dream Bigger (Mission Impazible) – Rudy Rodriguez – Jose Ortiz – Repole Stable 

6. Jolting Joe (Mission Impazible) – Mike Maker – Tyler Gaffalione – Skychai Racing LLC

Entries for Thursday, August 6

https://www.equibase.com/static/entry/SAR080620USA-EQB.html

FRIDAY, AUGUST 7

First post 1:10 p.m. ET

G2 $150,000 Saratoga Special presented by Miller Lite

Race 9, post time 5:46 p.m. ET 

Field (post, horse, sire, trainer, jockey, owner)

1. Papetu (Dialed In) Antonio Sano – John Velazquez – Magic Stables LLC

2. Hold the Salsa (Hold Me Back) – Richard J. Lugovich – Dylan Davis – Richard J. Lugovich

3. Garappolo (Outwork) – Kelly Breen – Luis Saez – Mr. Amore Stables 

4. Caramel Chip (Midshipman) – Jaime Mejia – Luis Cardenas – Jaime Mejia

5. Pickin’ Time (Stay Thirsty) – Kelly Breen – Jose Castellano – John Bowers, Jr.

6. Cazadero (Street Sense) – Steve Asmussen – Ricardo Santana, Jr. – Stonestreet Stables LLC

7. Momos (Distorted Humor) Christophe Clement – Manny Franco – Ironhorse Racing Stable LLC and Secure Investments

8. Market Alert (D’ Funnybone) – James T. Ryerson – Jose Lezcano – WellSpring Stables

9. Therideofalifetime (Candy Ride {ARG}) – Jose Ortiz – Ignacio Correas, IV – Stephen L. Fidel 

10. Jackie’s Warrior (Maclean’s Music) – Steve Asmussen – Joel Rosario – J. Kirk Robinson

11. Roderick (Into Mischief) – Wesley Ward – Irad Ortiz, Jr. – Breezy Easy LLC 

Entries for Friday, August 7

https://www.equibase.com/static/entry/SAR080720USA-EQB.html

SATURDAY, AUGUST 8

G1, $1 million Runhappy Travers

Probable: Caracaro (Gustavo Delgado), Country Grammer (Chad Brown), Max Player (Linda Rice), Shivaree (Ralph Nicks), Tiz the Law (Barclay Tagg), Uncle Chuck (Bob Baffert)

Possible: Mystic Guide (Michael Stidham), South Bend (Mott)

G1, $300,000 Longines Test

Probable: Gamine (Baffert), Perfect Alibi (Casse), Up in Smoke (George Weaver), Venetian Harbor (Richard Baltas)

Possible: Critical Value (Jeremiah Englehart)

G1, $300,000 Ballerina

Probable: Come Dancing (Carlos Martin), Letruska (Fausto Gutierrez), Serengeti Empress (Tom Amoss), Victim of Love (Todd Beattie)

Possible: Bellera (Pletcher)

G3, $150,000 Waya

Probable: Beale Street (Michael Matz), Beau Belle (Tom Albertrani), Fools Gold (Chad Brown), Gentle Ruler (Ian Wilkes), Mrs. Sippy (Graham Motion), My Sister Nat (Chad Brown)

Possible: Hungry Kitten (McGaughey), Lemon Zip (Niall Saville), Pallas Athens (John Terranova)

G3, $200,000 Troy

Probable: Leinster (George Arnold), Pure Sensation (Clement), Shekky Shebaz (Clement)

SUNDAY, AUGUST 9

$85,000 Alydar

Probable: Bodexpress (Delgado), Its All Relevant (Rudy Rodriguez), Spinoff (Pletcher)

Possible: Backsideofthemoon (Robert Klesaris)

Edited Press Release 

Photo: Moretti wins Birdstone at Saratoga. Credit: Coglianese Photos

Photo: Saratoga Race Course. Credit: Skip Dickstein

@jonathanstettin such a great read! In my car reading this on my lunch break with a huge smile.

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