Coach Lukas Has Chance for Eighth Win in Hopeful at Saratoga

The Hopeful (G1) at Saratoga is the closing day feature.
(Photo credit: © Cheryl Quigley |

Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas looks for his eighth win in the $350,000 Hopeful (G1) with recent maiden winner Sporting Chance as the Saratoga meeting comes to a close on Monday.

The $575,000 son of Tiznow took the field gate to wire over the Spa main track on July 22 and makes his stakes debut and is 8-1 on the morning line in a field of eight. Lukas last won the Hopeful with Strong Mandate in 2013.

The Hopeful was first run in 1903 and among the winners are Man O’ War, Native Dancer, Needles, Secretariat, Foolish Pleasure, Affirmed and Afleet Alex.

Trainer Todd Pletcher, who is battling with Chad Brown for the training title sends out a pair of runners including 2-1 morning line favorite Mojovation, who was a good looking gate to wire winner in his debut over the Spa main track on July 29.

Pletcher also saddles National Flag (9-2) who broke his maiden in his second career start.

The co-feature on Monday’s closing day card is the $250,000 Bernard Baruch Handicap (G2) which is scheduled for 1 1/16 miles on the turf. Rain fell on Sunday washing out the turf races but the weather is on the improve for Monday.

Let’s head out to the Spa for Monday’s featured race of the day:


Saratoga Race 9 The Hopeful G1 Post time 5:05 ET

6 Sporting Chance   8-1

5 National Flag    9-2

3 Firenze Fire   7-2

1 Mojovation   2-1

Sporting Chance took the field gate to wire for a sharp maiden score in his second career start for the Lukas barn that has won this race seven times. The colt was a $575,000 Keeneland purchase, out of the stakes winner Wynning Ride ($345,108) who has dropped one other winner. There is plenty of early zip signed up and the Hall of Fame trainer said he has been working this guy behind runners in the morning and likely takes a tracking role today. A couple of bullet works on the morning tab and he still looks as if he has a ton of upside. Worth a good look here if he goes off near his 8-1 morning line.

National Flag is one of two sent out by Pletcher who won this race in 2014 with Competitive Edge. Johnny V. is off this guy to stick with Mojovation and that should help the price. The colt was a $600,000 Keeneland purchase by Speightstown out of a Bernardini mare that has dropped two other winners. The colt chased the early pace and faded to finish seventh in his debut as the beaten chalk and then sat off the pace last out and finished gamely for his maiden win. The extra furlong here should suit him and with Ortiz up he likely gets a good tracking trip.

Firenze Fire is the lone stakes winner in the field, taking the Sanford (G2) last out at 12-1. The colt tracked the early pace, made a good move around the far turn, took over heading for home and held on to win by a length over a couple of foes he runs into again here. The Servis barn has been very live at the meeting, hitting at a 34% clip.


WIN: Sporting Chance to win at 9-2 or better.

EXACTA: 5,6 / 1,3,5,6

TRIFECTA: 5,6 / 1,3,5,6 / 1,3,5,6,8



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