Pletcher Holds Strong Hand in G2 Suburban With Crupi, Charge It

June 3, 2024

Crupi captures the Queens County Dec. 31 at Aqueduct (Joe Labozzetta)

By Brian Bohl – NYRA Press Office

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y.— Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher will saddle a formidable duo in defending race winner Charge It and the improving Crupi in Saturday’s Grade 2, $350,000 Suburban for 4-year-olds and up over Saratoga Race Course’s main track.

The 138th running of the 10-furlong Suburban is one of 24 stakes races during the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival spanning Thursday-to-Sunday, with purses totaling $10.25 million, the highest purse levels and number of stakes offered since the launch of the multi-day festival in 2014. The Suburban is also part of a loaded Saturday card headlined by the156th edition of the Grade 1, $2 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets.

Pletcher has saddled the last two winners of the prestigious race, including Dynamic One in 2022, and also won with Keen Ice in 2017 and will look to add to his totals with Whisper Hill Farm homebred Charge It [post 4, John Velazquez] and Repole Stable and St. Elias Stables’ Crupi [post 7, Irad Ortiz, Jr.]

Whisper Hill Farm homebred Charge It, who won last year’s edition by 4 3/4 lengths, returned off a six-month freshening to run third in the Grade 3 Westchester in May at Aqueduct Racetrack in his 2024 bow. That marked his first start since a fourth-place performance in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile in November at Santa Anita.

In each of his last four starts, Charge It has come off the pace. But in the Suburban, the son of Tapit was forwardly placed, took command by the half-mile mark and never relinquished the lead. Pletcher said that type of front-running moxie could be the key to a repeat effort on Saturday.

“Last year when he won the Suburban, he was able to get away and get into the race early, and I think when he’s at his best is that type of running,” Pletcher said.

The Suburban is normally contested at Belmont Park, where a 1 1/4-mile race on Big Sandy did not entail two full turns. But with renovations moving the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival to the historic Saratoga track, the same distance is now a traditional two-turn event, which Pletcher said should be suited to his charge.

“I think he’ll like the two-turn aspect of it. Belmont was like a turn and a half, and I think this is good,” Pletcher said.

Repole Stable and St. Elias Stables’ Crupi started his 4-year-old year against top-caliber competition, earning black type with a third-place Grade 1, $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational effort in January at Gulfstream Park, won by National Treasure.

Pletcher reflected back on the Pegasus effort and said he was pleased with the performance.

“It was good. He climbed from the kickback a little while and Frankie put him out in the clear on the backside, and then he started to finish up well,” Pletcher said.

Crupi, who was last seen finishing 10th in the Group 1 Dubai World Cup, has two Listed stakes wins to his credit, with the Curlin colt winning the Discovery and Queens County at Aqueduct. He is still looking to break through for his first graded stakes score.

“He’s doing well. He has been one that’s been frustrating at times because we always felt like there’s more talent there than sometimes he has produced,” Pletcher said. “But he seems like he’s still maturing and I think he’ll appreciate the mile and a quarter. He didn’t perform well in Dubai, but he seems to have come back in really good shape. Hopefully, he rounds back into form. I think he’ll appreciate a good pace up front.”

Mohammed Khaleel Ahmed’s Bendoog [post 8, Jose Lezcano], the sixth-place finisher in the 2023 Group 1 Dubai World Cup, arrived to the United States last year and has made three starts since being transferred to Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott.

Following a third-place effort in November at Aqueduct, Bendoog posted back-to-back wins at the track to start his 5-year-old year. The son of Gun Runner first won with a closing trip at one mile on April 6 before wheeling back three weeks later to wire a six-horse field at 1 1/8 miles. He has experience at the Suburban distance at Meydan, running second in December 2022 in the Entisar. Last year, he ran third in the Thunder Snow Challenge and second in the Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1.

“I think it will all depend on what the pace is. That will determine where he’s at in the race,” Mott said. “He’s been second going a mile and a quarter before.”

John Holleman’s Masqueparade [post 3, Manny Franco], who is no stranger to the big Saratoga stage after running sixth in the 2021 Grade 1 Travers, won the 1 1/2-mile Temperence Hill in March at Oaklawn Park. He enters off a third in the Isaac Murphy, where he made his first start for trainer Rob Atras.

A strong field also features Kuchar [post 2, Flavien Prat], third in the Excelsior in March at Aqueduct, who steps up to graded company for trainer Rudy Rodriguez; graded stakes-placed Time for Trouble [post 5, Jaime Torres], an 11-time winner in the care of trainer Jeff Hiles; stakes-placed Good Skate [post 6, Tyler Gaffalione] for trainer Mike Maker; and three-time winner Signator [post 1, Javier Castellano] for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey.

@PastTheWire I got out with Dupree @OaklawnRacing on backend of DD that paid 7-1. Nice pick!

Greg Kilka @GKilka View testimonials

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