SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – When Orlando Noda came to Saratoga as a trainer for the first time last year, he quickly got his first victory with T Loves a Fight [who is entered in Thursday’s John Morrissey] in an allowance race. That followed with two more winners and three other in-the-money finishes from nine starters at the meet.
Within the first 10 days of the current Saratoga meet, Noda has already won three races from seven starters, which included maiden winner First Line and going-away allowance winner Danny California. Both horses are owned by him and his brother Jonathan Noda under the nom de course Noda Brothers.
“We wanted to put them where they could win,” Noda said. “We all hope for the best. The competition is tough, but you have to place them aggressively. As long as they are training good and eating good, they can run. I would like to accomplish six wins this meet. That’s been the goal.”
Noda is currently working with 18 horses at Saratoga as he continues to grow his stable. However, he will be the first to admit it’s not easy.
“We’re growing,” he said. “Slowly and surely, I think people are noticing us. People are sending me horses. Everyone thinks that we can claim a horse for $10,000 and become [T Likes to Fight], but it’s not that easy. Realistically, it is seven days a week. There is no time off. The horses have to eat and they need beds. We have to do the best possible job and treat every horse as if they are a stakes horse.”
One of the horses that Noda is considering for the stakes level is First Line, who earned a 90 Beyer for his breakthrough score Wednesday in a nine-furlong maiden. The First Samurai gelding, bred in Kentucky by Sather Family, is nominated for the Grade 1, $1 million Runhappy Travers on August 8.
The 3-year-old gelding fought Hometown through the stretch to win his first start by a neck under leading rider Jose Ortiz. Noda said he plans to make a decision by Tuesday, the day before the Travers entry is drawn.
“He came out of that race in good shape,” Noda said. “He fought a mile and an eighth through the wire. As long as he tells me that he’s ready to fire, I’m not one to hold back. I’ll make a decision the day before entries. I think the horse shows talent. He is game on the track. He has to mature in each race.”
Noda said he may also consider the Grade 2, $150,000 Jim Dandy on September 5 – another race for 3-year-olds going 1 1/8 miles – for First Line.
NYRA Press Release
Photo: T Loves a Fight winning the 2017 Mike Lee Stakes. Credit: Coglianese Photos/Annette Jasko