SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Godolphin homebreds Nations Pride [1:15.21] and With The Moonlight [1:15] breezed six furlongs in company over the Oklahoma training turf Sunday in preparation for the Grade 1, $1 million Caesars Saratoga Derby Invitational on August 6 and the Grade 3, $700,000 Saratoga Oaks on August 7, respectively, at Saratoga Race Course.
The Charlie Appleby-trained duo posted runner-up efforts in their North American debuts in the first legs of the Caesars Turf Triple series on July 9 at Belmont Park.
NYRA clockers timed the pair through splits of 26 and 39 and out in 1:28.
Chris Connett, traveling assistant for Appleby, said the breeze went exactly as planned with exercise rider Patrice Pot aboard With The Moonlight and Noel Garbutt guiding Nations Pride.
“Nations Pride led the gallop,” Connett said. “We had them join up with about two furlongs to go and then just had them squeeze them along and made sure With The Moonlight did a little extra to make sure she got all that she needed out of it.”
Frankie Dettori piloted both sophomores in their stateside debuts with Nations Pride breaking slowly from post 10 in the Grade 1, $1 million Casears Belmont Derby Invitational, closing from ninth to finish just three-quarters of a length back of the pacesetting winner Classic Causeway.
With The Moonlight had a prominent trip from post 4 in the Grade 1, $700,000 Belmont Oaks Invitational, opening up a half-length lead at the stretch call only to be collared late by McKulick, who won by 1 3/4-lengths.
Both horses remained in New York following their Belmont effort and Connett said the talented pair have enjoyed their time in Saratoga.
“Patrice and Noel, who ride them every day, said they feel like they’ve really taken to Saratoga – who wouldn’t,” Connett said, with a laugh.
William Buick is expected to ship over to ride both Nations Pride and With The Moonlight.
Both the Saratoga Derby and Saratoga Oaks are contested at 1 3/16-miles. The Caesars Turf Triple series concludes at the Belmont at the Big A fall meet with the Grade 3, $1 million Caesars Jockey Club Derby Invitational at 12 furlongs and the 11-furlong Grade 3, $700,000 Jockey Club Oaks.
NYRA Press Office
Photo: Caesar’s Turf Triple logo