Saratoga Race Course Notes

August 26, 2021

G1 Runhappy Travers contender Dynamic One brings Repole, owners together

Saratoga-loving Cross Border eyes G1 success in Resorts World Casino Sword Dancer; Doubly Blessed steps up in G1 Forego; Army Wife Targets G1 Cotillion

Moquett: Whitmore continues to prove that age is just a number

High Opinion looks to take step up in class in G2 Ballston Spa

Ryerson hopes Miss Marissa steps it up again in G1 Personal Ensign presented by Lia Infiniti

Greg Foley seeks first G1 win with Sconsin in Ketel One Ballerina

Gargan wouldn’t object to a G1 placing for Judge N Jury in H. Allen Jerkens Memorial; Multiple GSW Tax back in training at the Spa

Truth Hurts looks to cause upset in G1 Ketel One Ballerina

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Ten years ago, owner Mike Repole tasted elite success at Saratoga Race Course when his talented dark bay colt Stay Thirsty captured the Grade 1 Travers by 1 ¼ lengths, defeating that year’s respective Preakness and Belmont winners Shackleford and Ruler On Ice. Now, Repole will be accompanied by owners St. Elias Stable and Phipps Stable as they join forces with stakes-winner Dynamic One for Saturday’s Grade 1, $1.25 million Runhappy Travers.

Dynamic One, a son of Union Rags trained by Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, won the Curlin on July 30 at Saratoga last out, following a distant 18th in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby on May 1 at Churchill Downs.

Repole reflected on his memorable Travers coup in 2011, which he described as “the highs and lows of racing within a half hour.” One race prior to Stay Thirsty’s Travers win, Repole’s reigning Champion 2-Year-Old Uncle Mo ran a hard-fought second in the Grade 1 King’s Bishop, coming up a nose shy of victory to Caleb’s Posse.

“I remember going into the paddock just thinking that I couldn’t believe this horse came back and ran the best race of his life and lost by a nose,” Repole recalled. “I had to wake myself up when I went to the paddock. It was 30 minutes between one of the toughest losses of my life to one of the greatest wins of my life. The highest of highs and the lowest of lows all within thirty minutes. Uncle Mo ran the race of his life and Todd did an amazing training job with him, but he lost by a nose.”

But when Stay Thirsty captured the Travers, it raised Repole’s spirits.

“Being a kid from New York and winning the Mid-Summer Derby and having the prestige of the Travers and how long it’s been around was just thrilling,” Repole said. “As a kid, I couldn’t come to Saratoga because I never had a car that could make it up there. That year, I won both the Jim Dandy and the Travers with Stay Thirsty.”

Following the 2011 Travers, Repole received a trophy, but also was able to keep the iconic Travers canoe painted in the colors of his silks.

“I made a donation to the backstretch and toward horse rescue,” Repole said. “Of all the trophies I ever won, the Travers Repole Stable canoe in my backyard is the greatest trophy of my life.”

While Repole was the standalone owner of Stay Thirsty, he has partnered with prominent thoroughbred powerhouses in campaigning Dynamic One, who is also owned by Vinnie and Teresa Viola of St. Elias Stable as well as the Phipps family, whose iconic black silks and cherry cap have won the Travers three times. 

Dynamic One will race in the dark green and white colors of St. Elias Stable.

“Success is best when shared and nothing would be more special,” Repole said. “This Travers will be in their silks and winning my second Travers in their silks would be just as important as winning with my silks. I’ve won a Travers, the Phipps have won three, and now it’s time to give Vinnie and Teresa a Travers win.”

Repole gave Daisy Phipps Pulito, daughter of the late Ogden Mills Phipps who manages Phipps Stable, credit for selecting the mating between Union Rags and the Smart Strike mare Beat the Drums, who is out of 2002 Champion 2-Year-Old Filly Storm Flag Flying and a descendant of undefeated Hall of Famer Personal Ensign.

“She has run Phipps Stable and it was the first year since her father’s passing that she did the breeding for the mares that they have,” Repole said. “She chose Union Rags for that mare and she got this amazing horse. Vinnie and I are so blessed to be here for the ride with them, it’s just amazing.

“I love what they’ve done for racing, I’ve watched them for years growing up,” Repole continued. “Horses such as [Hall of Famers] Personal Ensign and Easy Goer come to mind immediately and now knowing that we’re partners with Daisy and her brother, it’s incredible. On Friday night we’ll probably do a family dinner with the Phipps, Violas and Repoles. It’s been a lot of fun. The families will all get together, have a good time and who would’ve thought about a partner like this ten years ago?”

Repole said Dynamic One has always been a horse that Pletcher held in high regard.

“I look at sheet numbers, but I also use a different strategy. I use the Todd Pletcher eye and the Todd Pletcher brain,” Repole said. “He has come into Todd’s barn as a 2-year-old and Todd told me, ‘He trains like the 1 percent of horses I’ve had in my stable ever’. Unfortunately, he didn’t put it together in the afternoon right off the bat. Usually when Todd says that, they come along and it clicks.”

The Curlin was a long-awaited stakes conquest for Dynamic One, which Repole said solidified Pletcher’s early comments about the horse.

“I think what we saw in the Curlin is what Todd has been saying for a year now. Here is a horse with tremendous talent,” Repole said. “After the Derby we sent him to Fair Hill, almost like a mental health rehab and we just got him away from track life to put him in a calmer setting and have him grow up a bit. Since then, he’s been training great, and he ran a huge race in the Curlin.”

Repole said he believes Dynamic One is finding his best footing in the second half of this season.

“Many times there are the first-half 3-year-olds that develop early and then there are the second-half 3-year-olds. I think this is that second half type of horse,” Repole said. “Maybe he goes Travers, Woodward and Breeders’ Cup Classic, but it’s one race at a time. I think that this is a horse that’s getting better and better. I think the best of Dynamic One is to come at the end of this year and all of next year.”

Regardless of Saturday’s result, Repole said he will be happy just to be surrounded by quality company.

“I always have said horse racing could get my family together, but it’s also increased the size of my family,” Repole said. “Win, lose, or draw, we’re going to celebrate life. It’s great when you win with a bunch of people you like and enjoy being with. I never imagined horseracing would have given me this.”


Saratoga-loving Cross Border eyes G1 success in Resorts World Casino Sword Dancer; Doubly Blessed steps up in G1 Forego; Army Wife Targets G1 Cotillion.

A winner of 10 races and nearly $1 million in purse earnings, Three Diamonds Farm’s Cross Border has saved his best for Saratoga. Trainer Mike Maker, enjoying a spectacular summer of his own at the Spa, is hoping to continue the magic in Saturday’s Grade 1, $750,000 Resorts World Casino Sword Dancer.

The 1 ½-mile Sword Dancer, a ‘Win and You’re In’ for the Grade 1, $4 million Breeders’ Cup Turf November 6 at Del Mar, is one of seven graded-stakes – six of them Grade 1 – worth $4.6 million in purses on a blockbuster program highlighted by the 152nd running of the Grade 1, $1.25 million Runhappy Travers.

Cross Border, a 7-year-old New York-bred son of turf champion English Channel, has made seven of his 35 career starts at Saratoga with six wins and a second, the latter coming in last year’s Sword Dancer. Of his $948,821 lifetime bankroll, $544,400 has been earned at the Spa.

“He’s a horse for course. I hope we have another rabbit to pull out of the hat,” Maker said. “I wish I knew [why]. I wouldn’t have to train horses. The horse never has a bad hair day. He always looks well and trains well. Obviously, he has an affinity for up here, where he’s had his best performances. So, we’ll take it.”

Cross Border turned in one of his best efforts to date last out to win the Grade 2 Bowling Green by 1 ¼ lengths July 31. It was his second career graded triumph, the other coming in last year’s Bowling Green following the disqualification of first-place finisher Sadler’s Joy, who edged Cross Border by a neck at the wire.

“His last race was spectacular,” Maker said. “Obviously, we had a great setup and we’d have no problem getting that again.”

Cross Border has placed in four other graded-stakes, beaten a neck in the Grade 3 W.L. McKnight in 2020 and third by 2 ¼ lengths in the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Turf January 23, both at Gulfstream Park. He was a distant but decisive seconds in last year’s Sword Dancer, won by Channel Maker over a course listed as soft.

The 2-1 program favorite for the Sword Dancer is Grade 1 United Nations winner Tribhuvan. Cross Border is the third choice in a field of seven at odds of 4-1.

“Last year we had a lot of rain and it was probably a bit softer than he would prefer,” Maker said, “But he still put in a good effort.”

Also for Three Diamonds Farm on Saturday, Maker will send out Doubly Blessed in the Grade 1, $600,000 Forego for older horses sprinting seven furlongs, marking the graded debut for the 4-year-old Empire Maker gelding.

“We entered an allowance race and it failed to fill, so we figured we’d give this a shot,” Maker said. “He’s been doing great. Hopefully, he gets a hot pace to run into. We’re looking forward to it.”

Doubly Blessed has not raced since May 29 when he scored by 1 ½ lengths in a second-level optional claimer in the Belmont Park slop. In his only other stakes appearance, he ran fourth in the 1 3/8-mile Stud Muffin March 27 at Aqueduct.

After beginning his career with seven turf races, the first two for previous trainer Jonathan Thomas, Maker moved Doubly Blessed to the dirt this year and he has responded with four wins and a second from six starts including three in a row at Aqueduct to open 2021.

“He had worked well on the dirt and we weren’t getting the results we were expecting on the turf, so we figured we’d give it a shot,” Maker said. “Since he came off the turf, he turned the corner and has become a nice horse for us.”

Prior to the Forego, the shortest Doubly Blessed has run is one mile – the distance of each of his three wins this winter. Meet-leading rider Luis Saez will be aboard from post position 5 in a field of seven that includes Grade 1 winners Firenze Fire, Lexitonian, Mind Control, Mischevious Alex and Whitmore and 5-2 morning-line favorite Yaupon. Doubly Blessed is listed at 15-1.

“The competition is the main thing. The seven-eighths, one-turn doesn’t bother me,” Maker said. “It’s a pretty salty field. We’re going to find out how he fits.”

Maker said Three Diamonds Farm’s Army Wife was doing well out of her third-place finish in the Grade 1 Alabama August 21, which followed back-to-back wins in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan May 14 at Pimlico Race Course and Grade 3 Iowa Oaks July 2 at Prairie Meadows.

“She’s never missed a bite of grain coming out of the race and this morning she was a handful, so we’re happy,” Maker said. “She ran a big race, and she came out of it super. We’re pointing to the Cotillion.”

The Grade 1, $1 million Cotillion for 3-year-old fillies going 1 1/16 miles will be run September 25 at Parx Racing.


Moquett: Whitmore continues to prove that age is just a number

Ron Moquett said when it comes to training horses, it is best to look past the age and focus in on the individual, particularly with 8-year-old Whitmore, the reigning Champion Sprinter, who will seek a return to winning form in Saturday’s Grade 1, $600,000 Forego.

“Age is only a number,” Moquett said. “We prefer to look at the individual way each horse is doing and not let age be the deciding factor in how he’s going to do. He’s quite the handful. There’s always something at Saratoga to pump him up. He’s always fired up when he’s here and he’s feeling feisty.”

Whitmore, owned by Moquett with Robert V. LaPenta and Head of Plains Partners, captured the 2018 Forego by 1 ½ lengths during his 5-year-old season in a field that included City of Light, the subsequent winner of the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup.

Since then, the seasoned veteran has covered plenty of ground and has consistently proven competitive at the highest level. After three straight defeats in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint, including a second [2018] and a third [2019], Whitmore broke through last year, winning by 3 ¼ lengths at 18-1 odds.

Although Whitmore is still searching for his first victory in four starts this year, Moquett said the horse is 4-for-4 in effort. After a pair of second-place finishes to C Z Rocket at Oaklawn Park, Whitmore missed a head when third in the Grade 1 Churchill Downs on May 1 before completing the trifecta in the last out Grade 1 A.G. Vanderbilt on July 31 at the Spa.

“He’s training very well,” Moquett said. “He seems to be rounding into form at the right time. We like the post position.”

In the Vanderbilt, Whitmore took back to sixth and made an inside rally in the stretch, but finished 1 3/4 lengths behind Lexitonian, who also is entered in the Forego.

According to Equibase, a victory in the Forego would make Whitmore one of only two 8-year-olds to secure a Grade 1 victory on the NYRA circuit, joining 2007 Manhattan winner Better Talk Now. The oldest horse to garner such an accomplishment was John’s Call who, at age 9, won the Sword Dancer and Turf Classic Invitational, both in 2000.

Moquett said he would prefer a swifter pace in the Forego, which is something that Whitmore did not see in the Vanderbilt, where Lexitonian rode the rail on the front end to victory.

“The main difference I would like to see is us finishing first,” Moquett said, with a laugh. “I’d like to see an honest pace, some good-horse fractions and hopefully they back up in our favor.”

A solid effort would likely result in a return engagement in the Grade 2 Phoenix on October 8 at Keeneland, a race that Whitmore captured in 2017, followed by an attempt at a back-to-back win in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint on November 6 at Del Mar.


High Opinion looks to take step up in class in G2 Ballston Spa

Woodford Racing and Team D’s High Opinion matched a personal-best 89 Beyer for her half-length victory in her Saratoga debut last month. Bolstered by that effort, the 4-year-old Lemon Drop Kid filly will make her graded stakes debut in the Grade 2, $400,000 Ballston Spa for older fillies and mares competing at 1 1/16 miles on the inner turf on Runhappy Travers Day Saturday.

Trainer Tony Dutrow said High Opinion has continued to thrive since arriving at Saratoga, prompting a step up in class as she makes her second stakes appearance in her ninth career start and first in 2021.

High Opinion started her campaign with a second-place finish going 1 1/16 miles in April over the Belmont Park turf. After a fifth-place effort in June, she returned to run second in an allowance contest going 1 1/4 miles at Belmont on July 5. Dutrow then shipped her upstate, which resulted in an impressive effort winning at one mile on July 31 at the Spa where she rallied from sixth to display a strong closing kick against allowance company.

Following that win, High Opinion continued to train at Saratoga, posting a four-furlong work in 49.81 on the Oklahoma training turf on August 22. She now will compete as part of a six-horse field in the 33rd running of the Ballston Spa in Saturday’s Race 4 at 1:17 p.m.

“She’s doing fantastic. Since we’ve come to Saratoga this summer, she’s just excelled,” Dutrow said. “I thought because it was a relatively short field – and the way she’s training – that now would be the time to take a chance at a nice kind of race. That’s how well she’s doing.”

High Opinion drew the inside post in the six-horse Ballston Spa, picking up the services of meet-leading jockey Luis Saez. Listed at 8-1 on the morning line, High Opinion, stretching back out in distance, will take aim against a talented field that includes 8-5 favorite Viadera and 2-1 selection Kalifornia Queen.

“I think the distance is ideal for her,” Dutrow said. “In her current condition right now, I just felt like I had to take a chance with this. I know the competition is steep, but she just tells me every day that she needs this opportunity.

“I don’t think post position is an issue 1-to-6. I haven’t looked at the race to see how much speed is in it, but she’s always been one who has finished up and come from far back,” Dutrow continued. “Saez has had such success this summer with using horses and getting them out there early and taking advantage of some pace situations, so I’ll leave it up to him.”

High Opinion, who did not start racing until March of her sophomore year in 2020, is 2-3-0 in eight career starts. She capped her campaign with a second in her only previous stakes start, running just three-quarters of a length back to Duopoly in the Winter Memories going 1 1/16 miles in November at Aqueduct Racetrack.

“I don’t know where she’ll finish Saturday, but I do think she’ll make us proud,” Dutrow said.

Team D and Madaket Stables’ Miss Brazil continues to recover from an injury sustained coming out of a fifth-place effort in the Grade 3 Victory Ride on July 10 at Belmont. The 3-year-old Palace Malice filly, who started her year with a win in the Ruthless in February at the Big A before running second stretched out to one mile in the Busher in March over the same track, is 3-1-2 in seven career starts, with her first off-the-board finish coming last out in her first graded stakes appearance.

“She had a minor injury in her disappointing race last out at Belmont in the Victory Ride. We feel she’ll be back and maybe be better than ever, but that won’t be until next year,” Dutrow said.


 Ryerson hopes Miss Marissa steps it up again in G1 Personal Ensign presented by Lia Infiniti

Trainer Jim Ryerson said he knows that Miss Marissa is facing the biggest challenge of her career in Saturday’s Grade 1, $600,000 Personal Ensign Presented by Lia Infiniti for older fillies and mares, yet he’s optimistic that she will give a good accounting of herself.

“The race is very, very tough. There couldn’t be a tougher filly and mare race anywhere,” Ryerson said of the nine-furlong test stacked with nine multiple stakes winners and three Grade 1 winners. “But we’re here to participate. This race is so tough, but she deserves a chance to run with these and we’ll see what happens.”

The Personal Ensign field includes three-time Grade 1 winner and reigning Champion 3-Year-Old Filly Swiss Skydiver, who beat the boys in last year’s Grade 1 Preakness and took the Grade 1 Alabama on this track last year; Letruska, who won the Grade 1 Apple Blossom, the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps, and the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis in her last three outings; and Harvey’s Lil Goil, the 2020 winner of the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup on the grass. Add dual Grade 2 winner As Time Goes By, whom Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert is so confident in that he sent her here from Southern California, to the mix.

That lineup is mighty fearsome but Miss Marissa, whom Alphonso Cammarota bought for the bargain price of $11,000 as a yearling, might have a surprise in store. She’s done it before.

Sent off at 10-1, she was a neck winner over Bonny South in the 2020 Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan in October. She outran her odds again last time out when she took the Grade 2 Delaware Handicap on July 10 and Bonny South disappointed as the odds-on favorite with a fifth place finish. Incidentally, the Brad Cox-trained, Grade 3 winning Bonny South is also entered in Saturday’s Personal Ensign.

“Marissa jumped up those times in those Grade 2s. Absolutely,” her trainer said. “She’s been very consistent over the last year and done very well running two turns.”

What is also beneficial to this filly is her familiarity with her Saratoga surroundings and her affinity for the racing strip. In a pair of Saratoga starts she finished first in an optional claiming allowance race at nine furlongs in August 2020 and was the runner-up in a maiden special weight race in 2019.

“She ran good on this track and won that allowance race on this track last year. That race she ran here last year was her coming out party. She really improved in terms of her speed and her ability to run a mile-and-an-eighth, and that race propelled her into the Black-Eyed Susan,” Ryerson said. “I think that she has grown up both physically and mentally this year. She’s more relaxed, she’s put on weight, she’s grown. She’s matured like you would want a filly to move from three to four. I think that’s why you see those two efforts since we stopped her in January and gave her a freshening. Those were real solid efforts and she’s going in the right direction. Whether she’s good enough, we’ll find out on Saturday.”

The Personal Ensign is a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Del Mar in November. Ryerson last had a Breeders’ Cup runner when multiple graded stakes winner Park Avenue Ball competed in the 2007 Dirt Mile. He is best known as the trainer of 1995 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile with Unbridled’s Song, who also captured the Grade 1 1996 Florida Derby.

“When you’re lucky enough to have a nice horse, they make things different for you and for the whole crew. Everybody gets excited. This is some important stuff,” said Ryerson.

Daniel Centeno has been Miss Marissa’s partner for the wins in the Black-Eyed Susan and the Delaware Handicap and Ryerson will leg him up again on Saturday.

“Daniel has done great with her and they team up well. We’re sticking with him. He deserves this chance and Marissa deserves this chance,” he said.


Greg Foley seeks first G1 win with Sconsin in Ketel One Ballerina

Trainer Greg Foley has no doubt that Lloyd Madison Farms’ homebred Sconsin, who is named for the owners’ home state of Wisconsin, is ready for her close-up. What he’s not so sure about is how the 4-year-old filly will appreciate the Saratoga setting.

When Sconsin lines up in the gate for the $500,000, Grade 1 Ketel One Ballerina, which is a “Win and You’re In” event for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, against six other top-flight filly and mare sprinters it will be her first race at Saratoga.

“Some horses like it and some don’t. That’s my main worry of any,” said Foley. “But she’s doing great, and she looks really, really good. Whether she handles the track is the main concern. That’s what you hear about all the time, whether a horse will handle the racetrack or not. Hopefully, she’ll like it.”

Another concern is the presence of Gamine, the reigning champion Female Sprinter, 2020 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint winner, and four-time Grade 1 winner who’s only defeat in nine starts came in last year’s Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks. The winner of the Grade 1 Longines Test here last year is trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert.  

“This is definitely a tough race, especially with the champion in there,” Foley said in referring to Gamine.

Gamine is blessed with blistering speed, which she uses to her full advantage. Foley expects nothing less in the Ballerina.

“I see one with a lot of pace, and that’s Gamine. Other than her I don’t see any pace. She’s definitely the speed. I was hoping to see a little more speed entered in here to go with her early. I don’t know that there is,” he explained. “We’re not going to change our game plan too much. We’re going to sit and finish, and if we can’t get to her, we can’t. We’re not going to send her away from there trying to go with Gamine. That would be ridiculous on our part. We’re sure not going to get anything that way. Hopefully, somebody else can go with her and help us out. We’ll see what happens.”

Sconsin, by Include out of the Tiznow mare Sconnie, performs best when rating off the pace. She employed that running style when second to Gamine in the Grade 1 Derby City Distaff at Churchill Downs in May and when second to the Grade 1 winning Bell’s the One in the Roxelana Stakes on that same track in her last out in June. Sconsin, the winner of the Grade 2 Eight Belles last year, also at Churchill Downs, was fourth in the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint.

“She’s a good filly. She’s run with the best and run well with them. We beat Bell’s the One [winner of the Grade 2 Honorable Miss at the Spa July 28] in a prior race at Churchill and she came back and beat us, and that filly is an awful good filly and she showed you all here that last month,” said Foley. “She’s been training great, and really, she could not be doing any better. She looks great and she is ready to go. I’d be surprised if she doesn’t run a good race. It will take a good race [against this group] but I think she’s sitting on one.”

Sconsin signaled her readiness on August 21 when she fired a bullet four furlongs breeze in :47 flat at Ellis Park in Kentucky. The work was the fleetest of 62 horses going the same distance that morning.

“I’ve had her at Ellis, just kind of baby-sitting her down there this summer with this race in mind the whole time. I’m trying to win a Grade 1 with her. She’s won a Grade 2 and she deserves this chance,” said Foley.

Not only would a Ballerina victory be the first top level score for Sconsin, it would be the first as well for Foley, who has made 8,730 starts for 1,446 wins through August 26, according to Equibase. Moreover, winning a Grade 1 race at a NYRA track would neutralize some sibling rivalry as his sister, Vickie Foley, won the lone Grade 1 race of her long career with Hog Creek Hustle in the 2019 Woody Stephens at Belmont Park.

“Winning a Grade 1 at Saratoga, wouldn’t that be something?” said Foley, who is especially close with Vickie and shares barns with her at the Kentucky tracks. “It would definitely be something extra special for our whole family.”


Gargan wouldn’t object to a G1 placing for Judge N Jury in H. Allen Jerkens Memorial; Multiple GSW Tax back in training at the Spa.

Flying P Stable and West Paces Racing’s Judge N Jury will make his open-company debut in Saturday’s Grade 1, $500,000 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial, a seven-furlong sprint for sophomores featuring a loaded field of six led by multiple Grade 1-winner Jackie’s Warrior.

The Tapiture bay, bred in New York by Wellspring Stables, endured a difficult debut in July 2020 at the Spa, acting up in the paddock before stumbling after the start en route to a third-place finish in a state-bred maiden sprint.

Judge N Jury returned in September and wired a maiden field here by 1 1/4-lengths only to be vanned off after the finish. He returned on July 23 at the Spa, as a gelding, and posted an eye-opening 8 1/2-length score in a seven-furlong allowance sprint against older horses, registering a 99 Beyer.

“His first race was a complete throw out. I didn’t expect him to be that tough in the paddock but he came alive that day,” Gargan said. “We brought him back and he won, but he got hurt galloping out. We gelded him and since then he’s matured and been a lot better mentally.”

Gargan said he was impressed with how Judge N Jury settled under returning rider Luis Saez last out given that Saturday’s test includes multiple graded-stakes winning speed threats in Jackie’s Warrior for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen and the Saffie Joseph, Jr. conditioned Drain the Clock.

“Steve’s horse might be the fastest horse in the world right now,” Gargan said. “We’ll be six or seven lengths off the lead in this race because they’re going to go 44 to the half. We’ll break and sit and be running at the end.”

Judge N Jury, listed at 15-1 on the morning line, will exit post 5.

Ice Princess, a 4-year-old daughter of Palace Malice, owned by Gargan in partnership with Flying P Stable, and R. A. Hill Stable garnered a 90 Beyer for her four-length score in an open nine-furlong allowance route over a sloppy and sealed Spa main track August 19.

Bred in the Empire State by Mina Equivest, it was the first victory for Ice Princess since capturing the one-mile Maddie May in February 2020 at the Big A.

Ice Princess launched her 2021 campaign off a nearly three-month layoff on the Belmont turf in June when fourth traveling 1 1/16-miles and followed with a troubled third in a nine-furlong open allowance route here on July 22.

“I turned her out and brought her back on the grass to get her started. She came out of that race really well,” Gargan said. “I didn’t like the trip she got first time here and thought she should have won that day. The other day she got a decent trip and she won. She’s a solid, trying filly.”

Gargan said he will try and find a two-turn stake out of town for Ice Princess to bridge the gap to the $250,000 Empire Distaff on October 30 at Belmont.

“She’ll hopefully get one start before the Empire but we’ll have to figure out where,” Gargan said. “We won’t leave her in New York this winter. We’ll take her to Florida and run her two turns at Tampa.”

Gargan said Jonathan Thorne and R. A. Hill Stable’s Breakfastatbonnies, who won a first-level state-bred off-the-turf allowance sprint on July 18 at the Spa, will look to topple the next condition in the fall at Belmont.

Bred in New York by Sequel Thoroughbreds and Lakland Farm, the sophomore daughter of Laoban was prominent throughout under Irad Ortiz, Jr. in the 5 1/2-furlong sprint over a muddy track, prevailing by a nose.

“She had missed a bit of training, but Irad said she was kind of waiting on those horses,” Gargan said. “She’ll stay in New York for the fall.”

R. A. Hill Stable, Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and Hugh Lynch’s multiple graded stakes winner Tax, last seen finishing tenth in the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup in January, is back galloping at Saratoga.

“He came back about 10 days ago now and is back in training. He’s doing really well, but he won’t run for a while,” Gargan said.

The 5-year-old Kentucky-bred Arch gelding won the 2019 Grade 3 Withers at the Big A and later that summer added the Grade 2 Jim Dandy to his ledger. Tax earned a career-best 105 Beyer winning the Grade 3 Harlan’s Holiday in December at Gulfstream.

Gargan said Tax will continue to train at Saratoga after the meet ends.


Truth Hurts looks to cause upset in G1 Ketel One Ballerina

Truth Hurts, trained and co-owned by Chad Summers with J Stables, is the 50-1 longest shot on the board in Saturday’s Grade 1, $500,000 Ketel One Ballerina. Not that it bothers her connections as they tackle a star-studded field headlined by Gamine, the reigning Champion Female Sprinter.

“I’ve decided to watch the movie 50-1 and be inspired by Mine That Bird,” said Summers with a laugh. “This is probably the strongest filly and mare race of the year. The only one missing is Bell’s the One. I think this is a preview of the Breeders’ Cup.”

In addition to Gamine, the seven-horse field, which offers a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Grade 1, $1 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint November 6 at Del Mar, includes multiple Grade 1-winner Ce Ce and graded-stakes winners Estilo Talentoso, Sconsin, and Lake Avenue as well as the improving Casual.

“This is a tough race, but it’s one we’ve been pointing to for a long time and we’re not one to shy away from a challenge,” Summers said.

Truth Hurts, a 4-year-old daughter of Tonalist bred in Ontario by the late William D. Graham, won her first two career starts, both at the Big A, but required time off after an off-the-board effort in the nine-furlong Busanda in February 2020.

Summers tried Truth Hurts at longer distances when she returned in the fall with mixed results, finishing third in the 1 1/16-mile Bison City in September at Woodbine.

Through five starts this year, Truth Hurts has focused on one-turn events, including a well-placed score as a main-track only entrant in the off-the-turf Perfect Sting, traveling a one-turn mile on July 3 on a sloppy and sealed Belmont strip.

Last out, Truth Hurts finished a game fourth in the six-furlong Grade 2 Honorable Miss under a close-up trip engineered by Irad Ortiz, Jr., who will pilot Sconsin on Saturday allowing Joel Rosario to take over from post 4.

“We think we’ve figured her out and we think she’s a seven-eighths to a mile horse,” Summers said. “We thought the Honorable Miss was a sneaky good race for the fact she didn’t really want to go three-quarters and she was up in it early. When Irad got off her, he said she belongs with these.”

Summers and Rosario combined for memorable wins with New York-bred Mind Your Biscuits in the 2017 and 2018 Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen as well as the 2017 Grade 2 Belmont Sprint Championship and 2018 Grade 3 Lukas Classic.

Rosario was aboard Truth Hurts for a bullet five-eighths breeze in 59.18 on August 13 on the Saratoga main track.

“The fact that Joel is available and the history we have with him, it was a no-brainer. He breezed her the other day when she broke off five lengths behind another horse and beat that horse by eight lengths and galloped out like a nice horse,” Summers said. “She did it in 59 and did it the right way. Joel was beaming ear to ear after and he doesn’t do that very often breezing horses for me.”

Summers said he expects a stalking trip in a field that lacks early speed outside of the 3-5 morning-line favorite Gamine, who breaks from the inside post.

“I think Gamine goes and we’ll see how the race plays out from there,” Summers said. “We have a lot of confidence in our filly and we’ll let Joel ride her with the confidence he had in that breeze.”

Out of the Distorted Humor mare Witty Gal, Truth Hurts was purchased for $35,000 at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale.

Saratoga Race Course Press Release

@jonathanstettin I for one can still actually feel the pall cast over the crowd and game that day. It was palpable. Kudos 2/2

William G. Gotimer (@WilliamGotimer) View testimonials