Pletcher Looks Loaded in Juvenile Stakes Races at Saratoga

Michael Dempsey@turfnsportFeatured ColumnistAugust 9, 2014

Horses break from the starting gate during the first race on opening day of the horse racing season at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., Friday, July 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)
Hans Pennink/Associated Press

Trainer Todd Pletcher looks well on his way to his 11th training title at Saratoga and will be well represented in both juvenile stakes on Sunday’s card, the $200,000 Adirondack (G2) for two-year-old fillies and the $200,000 Saratoga Special (G2) for colts and geldings. 

Both races will be televised live on the Jockey Club Tour on Fox. The show will air from 5-6:30 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1, Fox Deportes and Fox Sports Go.

Through Friday, Pletcher has saddled 16 winners from his 57 starters at the 40-day Saratoga meeting, which hits the halfway mark Saturday.

Trainer Todd Pletcher has a good shot of sweeping Saturday's juvenile stakes.
Trainer Todd Pletcher has a good shot of sweeping Saturday's juvenile stakes.Rob Carr/Getty Images

Pletcher will send out 5-2 morning line favorite Angela Renee in the Adirondack. The filly was a good-looking maiden winner in her debut at Belmont Park on June 27. Pletcher has won the race three times, most recently with Kauai Katie in 2012.

The six-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer will send out a pair in the Saratoga Special. He will saddle Nonna’s Boy, who was fourth in the Sanford (G2) in his last start July 19. The trainer will also send out recent maiden winner Stanford.

Pletcher has won the Saratoga Special three times, including last year with Corfu.

The Saratoga Special serves as a prep for the $500,000 Champagne (G1) on Oct. 5 at Belmont Park. The Champagne is a points race for the Road to the Kentucky Derby series as well as a “Win and You’re In” race for the $2 million Sentient Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1).

While the last two winners of the Saratoga Special did not make it to Louisville on the first Saturday of May for the Run for the Roses, the 2011 winner Union Rags ran second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and had a rough trip in the Kentucky Derby in a seventh-place finish. The colt came back to win the Belmont Stakes (G1) in his next and last start of his career.

The Jockey Club Tour on Fox will be right back at the Spa next Sunday for the $500,000 Sword Dancer Invitational Stakes (G1) featuring top older turf runners.


Selections for the Adirondack:

Win: Angela Renee was a good-looking maiden winner in her debut for the Pletcher barn. The filly tracked the early pace, took over the lead in the stretch and drew away late to win by 2 1/2 lengths. The effort was flattered when runner-up Sunday Sonnet and fifth-place finisher High Dollar Woman both came back to win their next starts.

The filly is bred to be a nice one, by Grade 1 winner Bernardini out of the stakes winner Pilfer ($126,360) who has dropped two other winners including Grade 1 stakes winner To Honor and Serve ($1.7 million). Pletcher has won this race three times, the last with Kauai Katie in 2012.

Place: Vivian Da Bling ships in from Lone Star, where the filly won her first two career starts by a combined 15 3/4 lengths. Her trainer Bret Calhoun had tough luck in this race last year, sending out 1-5 heavy favorite Fiftyshadesdofgold, who had a tough trip in a third-place finish. This filly won both of her starts in gate to wire fashion and only our top pick earned a higher last out speed figure.

Show: Wonder Gal broke her maiden by 14 1/2 lengths in her debut and she did it in stakes company, taking the state bred Lynbrook. While it was a stake, it was not a very tough group she beat. The runner-up came back to finish ninth in a maiden race in her next start, while the third-place finisher checked in seventh in her next start, also in a maiden event.


Selections for the Saratoga Special:

Win: Nonna's Boy was the beaten favorite last out in the Sanford (G3). The colt tracked the early pace, was four wide coming around the far turn to get into the mix while in between foes and weakened inside the final furlong to finish fourth, beaten two lengths for the top spot. The racing strip that day at the Spa was playing to inside speed.

The colt was a good-looking maiden winner two back in his debut at Belmont Park in the slop, getting hammered in the betting. The runner-up in that race was Bustin It, who returned to break his maiden in his next outing on July 13 in the state bred Rockville Centre Stakes at Belmont Park. Pletcher won this race last year for the first time with Corfu.

Place: Mr. Z also exits the Sanford and did not have the best of trips. The colt stalked the early pace while in fifth, made a good move around the far turn, and then had to steady off heels of a foe nearing the 5/17ths.

Jockey Corey Lanerie then angled the colt toward the outside, exchanging a couple of bumps in the stretch and had the lead briefly in deep stretch but could not hold off the winner late and had to settle for the runner-up spot. A cleaner trip should put this colt in the mix here.

Show: I Spend It was a sharp maiden winner in his debut and steps into stakes company here for his second career start for the Tony Dutrow barn. Purchased for $600,000, the colt is a son of 2010 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Super Saver.

The colt came back with a bullet morning work on Aug. 1 over the Saratoga main track for a barn that usually moves them forward second time out. This colt should only get better with more ground and looks capable of moving forward off his strong debut effort.


Morning line odds provided by NYRA.

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