Philly Eagles looks to fly in North American debut

August 28, 2021

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Tracy Farmer’s Philly Eagles made a stellar debut in winning in Great Britain in June. She will now look to notch a victory on the opposite side of the Atlantic in Thursday’s $120,000 P.G. Johnson for juvenile fillies going 1 1/16 miles on the inner turf at Saratoga Race Course.

Philly Eagles was a half-length victor in a maiden weight-for-age contest going seven furlongs on June 26 at Doncaster with Alice Haynes as her conditioner. The daughter of Havana, now in the care of Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse, breezed three times this month over Saratoga’s Oklahoma training turf, including a five-furlong work in 1:03.45 on August 22.

On Thursday, the Irish-bred Philly Eagles is slated to break from post 4 while picking up the services of jockey Ricardo Santana, Jr.

“It’s the first time running her here in the country,” Casse said. “She’s training well, and we’re excited about Santana riding her. Everything is all set. She looks good and we’re looking forward to it.”

Mystic Eyes was also a debut winner, posting a gate-to-wire 4 1/2-length score on August 5 in a 5 1/2-furlong turf sprint at the Spa. Owned by MeB Racing Stables and Vincent Esopi, Mystic Eyes earned a field-high 77 Beyer Speed Figure for her win over firm going.

Trained by Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, Mystic Eyes will look to handle the stretch out in distance, drawing the outermost post with Hall of Famer John Velazquez in the irons.

Conditioner Christophe Clement will send out Manzanita Stables’ Silvery Rill, who ran second in her debut on August 1 at the Spa in a 1 1/16-mile contest. Silvery Rill, a daughter of War Front, will see Joel Rosario ride from post 5.

Let’s Be Clear ran a competitive second for reigning Eclipse Award-winning trainer Brad Cox in her debut going five furlongs on June 11 over the Churchill Downs main track, finishing a head back to Sax, before graduating at 5 1/2 furlongs on July 21 on the Spa dirt.

Cox will now try the Munnings filly on turf for the first time. Owned by Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables and Michael Caruso, Let’s Be Clear will make the foray to the grass with Manny Franco picking up the mount from post 8.

Meet-leading trainer Chad Brown will see Klaravich Stables’ Expand the Map look to break her maiden after running second on debut on July 22 at Saratoga. The Irish-bred daughter of Dark Angel will break from post 3 with Irad Ortiz, Jr. aboard.

Joel Politi’s Take the Backroads, a Will Take Charge filly, enters with momentum following a 4 3/4-length victory in her first start on the turf on August 4 at Saratoga in a five-furlong sprint.

Take the Backroads has progressed in each of her three starts, building on a third-place effort behind Let’s Be Clear in that June 11 contest before running second to her emerging rival on July 21, this time finishing just one length back to Let’s Be Clear on dirt. The duo will face each other for a third time and the first time on turf, as the Tom Amoss trainee drew post 6 with Tyler Gaffalione aboard.

Treadyway Racing Stable’s Sail By earned stakes back type last out, building on her first-out win on June 18 at Belmont by running second to Miss Alacrity in the Colleen on August 1 at Monmouth Park. Trained by Leah Gyarmati, Sail By will have Junior Alvarado ride from post 7. 

Owner and trainer Kevin Rice will see Runaway Breeze, who made her first three starts at Presque Isle Downs, including a win last out on August 18, look to make an impression at Saratoga. Runaway Breeze drew the inside post with Dylan Davis scheduled to ride. 

Pletcher also entered Miss Interpret for the main track only.

The 17th running of the P.G. Johnson, slated as Race 9 on the 10-race card with a 1:05 p.m. Eastern first post, honors the late Hall of Fame trainer who crafted a distinguished career that spanned six decades. Philip George Johnson was the leading trainer at Saratoga in 1983 and according to the National Museum of Racing, won at least one race each year at the Spa from 1962 to 2003. His biggest career victory came in 2002 with a horse he co-owned named Volponi, who pulled off a 43-1 upset of the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic. 

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Photo: Trainer Mark Casse will hope Philly Eagles will soar at the Spa. (NYRA/Coglianese)

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