SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Juddmonte’s deep-closing multiple graded stakes-winner Set Piece should have sharp fractions to close into in Friday’s Grade 3, $175,000 Forbidden Apple, a one-mile inner turf test for older horses at Saratoga Race Course.
The 6-year-old Dansili gelding, who boasts a record of 20-10-2-1 for purse earnings just shy of $700,000, finished seventh, defeated two lengths by Shirl’s Speight, in his seasonal debut in the Grade 1 Maker’s Mark Mile in April at Keeneland.
Last out, Set Piece rallied from 11 lengths off the pace to post a 1 1/4-length score in the Grade 2 Dinner Party at 1 1/16-miles on May 21 at Pimlico Race Course.
Trained by Brad Cox, the British homebred made the grade in the Grade 2 Wise Dan last June at Churchill ahead of a runner-up effort to the popular mare Got Stormy in the Grade 1 Fourstardave Handicap in August at the Spa.
Florent Geroux retains the mount from the inside post.
Mary Abeel Sullivan Revocable Trust’s Mira Mission has posted triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures in each of his last three starts, beginning with a 100 for his three-quarter length score in the Grade 3 Canadian Turf on March 5 at Gulfstream Park.
The 4-year-old Noble Mission gelding followed with a close fifth in the Grade 1 Maker’s Mark Mile in April at Keeneland that garnered a career-best 101 figure ahead of a narrow neck defeat to Santin last out in the Grade 1 Turf Classic on May 7 at Churchill Downs that registered a 100 figure.
Trainer Ian Wilkes, who took over training duties from Tom Bush late last year, said Mira Mission has blossomed.
“He’s just matured. He had a great foundation and is very consistent,” Wilkes said. “He’s just an honest little horse. He always tries and you have to love him. He came to me in real good shape and I’m very fortunate to reap the benefit.”
Wilkes said he had intended to enter Mira Mission in the Grade 2 Wise Dan on Closing Weekend at Churchill before turf racing at that meet was scrapped.
“He was going all winter and spring and then I had to re-group,” Wilkes said. “He’s training good, so it was handy that this race was here. The horse has done well.”
Mira Mission made two turf starts at the Spa for Bush, including a smart optional-claiming score in August going nine furlongs.
“Hopefully, I can get the same result Tom did and get a win,” said Wilkes, with a laugh.
Julien Leparoux returns in the irons from post 3.
Four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown will have two chances for his first Forbidden Apple score when he saddles Public Sector and Analyze It.
Klaravich Stables’ Public Sector posted a record of 7-4-2-0 last year led by wins at Saratoga in the Grade 2 Hall of Fame and Grade 3 Saranac. The 4-year-old Kingman colt was off-the-board in the nine-furlong Grade 1 Turf Classic in his seasonal debut in May at Churchill ahead of a close third last out in the one-mile Grade 3 Poker on June 18 at Belmont.
William H. Lawrence’s Analyze It, a 7-year-old Point of Entry gelding, is a three-time graded-stakes winner with his most recent score at the level coming in September 2020 in the Grade 3 Red Bank at Monmouth Park. Boasting a consistent record of 16-5-4-3 for purse earnings of $951,850, Analyze It enters from a closing third in the Cliff Hanger on May 28 at Monmouth in his seasonal debut.
Public Sector will leave from post 7 under Irad Ortiz, Jr. while Analyze It will burst from post 6 under Jose Ortiz.
MeB Racing Stables’ Clear Vision was a prominent winner of the Grade 3 Tropical Turf in January at Gulfstream Park to provide 24-year-old trainer Matthew O’Connor his sole stakes win to date.
O’Connor claimed Clear Vision in October for $25,000 out of a gate-to-wire score over the Belmont turf and entered the Artie Schiller gelding back in the Claiming Crown Emerald Starter in January at Gulfstream, finishing second ahead of his 10-1 Tropical Turf upset.
Clear Vision finished off-the-board in his next three starts, including a pacesetting fourth last out in the 1 1/16-mile Mr. Steele on May 21 at Gulfstream.
“I’d missed one work on him going into the race and he got collared at the top of the stretch, but he didn’t give up,” O’Connor said. “He was game and finished a good fourth. He’s one of those hard-knocking horses who knows his job and loves what he does.”
Clear Vision worked a half-mile Saturday in 50.60 over the dirt at Palm Meadows Training Center and will ship to Saratoga on Sunday.
“He’s doing great,” O’Connor said. “We’ve been targeting this race since we gave him a break after the Canadian Turf. We picked the Mr. Steele as a prep as it was decent spacing into this race. He’d coming in good and has a solid work tab. I couldn’t be happier with him. I expect him to run well.”
The 6-year-old bay posted a 4 3/4-length frontrunning claiming score over the Saratoga turf in August one start before being haltered by O’Connor. The young conditioner said he is hopeful Clear Vision will enjoy a return to winning ways at the Spa.
“I’ve been going up there every summer since I was an infant. To be able to run up there, especially in a Grade 3 with a decent shot to win it, is exciting,” O’ Connor said. “Any race at Saratoga feels like a Grade 1 but when you get to run in a graded stake and be live in it – it’s a privilege. Hopefully, he runs well and wins or hits the board. We’d be happy either way.”
Eric Cancel will pilot Clear Vision from post 5.
Three Diamonds Farm’s Atone set the pace in the Dinner Party en route to a third-place effort, finishing 1 1/2-lengths back of Set Piece.
Trained by Mike Maker, the 5-year-old Into Mischief gelding garnered a career-best 101 Beyer when fourth in the Grade 1 Maker’s Mark Mile in April at Keeneland in his seasonal debut. He earned graded black type in December when second to Doswell in the Grade 2 Fort Lauderdale.
Flavien Prat will pilot Atone from post 8.
Ironhorse Racing Stable, BlackRidge Stables, T-N-T Equine Holdings and Saratoga Seven Racing Partners’ Get Smokin is another likely pace presence for Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse.
The 5-year-old Get Stormy gelding won 2-of-4 starts last season, including scores in the Grade 3 Tampa Bay and the one-mile Seek Again at Belmont. He finished second to Shirl’s Speight in his Tampa Bay title defense in his seasonal debut in February ahead of an off-the-board effort in the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint in March at Meydan.
Get Smokin was a game second, defeated a head by Admission Office, when making his return to action last out in the Grade 3 Arlington on June 4 at Churchill.
He will emerge from post 9 under Hall of Famer Javier Castellano.
Rounding out a loaded field are the multiple graded-stakes placed Wolfie’s Dynaghost [post 2, Luis Saez]; graded-stakes placed City Man [post 10, Joel Rosario]; stakes-winner Scuttlebuzz [post 11, Manny Franco]; multiple stakes-placed New York-bred Sanctuary City [post 12, Kendrick Carmouche]; and three-time winner Yes and Yes [post 4, John Velazquez]. Art Collector, winner of the Grade 1 Woodward last year at Saratoga, is entered for the main-track only.
The Forbidden Apple is slated as Race 9 on Friday’s 10-race card, which includes the $150,000 Coronation Cup in Race 8. First post is 1:05 p.m. Eastern.
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