The Saratoga meeting comes to a close on Monday with a field of 11 lining up in the $300,000 Hopeful (G1) the last graded stake of the summer at the Spa.
The 12-race closing day card gets underway at 12:35 ET with the supporting feature the $200,000 Bernard Baruch Handicap (G2) which drew a small field of five and will be the third race on today’s card.
The Hopeful drew a field of 11 led by an impressive duo of stakes winners in Wit and High Oak.
The Todd Pletcher trained Wit is the 7-5 morning line favorite. The son of Practical Joke won the Sanford (G3) over the Saratoga main track on July 17 by eight lengths. Irad Ortiz. Jr has the return call on the colt.
“Wit has the advantage of having a couple of starts. He deserves the chance to step up. I think the way Wit finished up going six furlongs you would think seven would be no problem,” Pletcher said.
Wit Wins Sanford
Fellow Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott will saddle High Oak (5-2), who is perfect in his two starts. The colt won the Saratoga Special (G2) on Aug. 14 by 4 ¼ lengths. His regular rider Junior Alvarado will be aboard again.
A live longshot is the Wesley Ward trained Headline Report (12-1), who was second in the Sanford in his last outing, which was contested over a wet track. The colt broke his maiden in his debut two back at Keeneland going 4 ½ furlongs on the main track.
“In the Sanford he broke sharp and he was right there, but Wit kind of took over turning for home and we were just soundly beaten by a much better horse on the day,” Ward said. “My guy is moving forward, though. I just think this is the right race over a surface that he’s shown he ran well on in the Sanford. We brought him back to his home track in Kentucky and he had a beautiful six-furlong work here the other day.”
After closing day racing will take a break in New York with Belmont Park opening Thursday Sept. 16.
Let’s head out to Saratoga for today’s featured race of the day:
Saratoga Race 10 The Hopeful G1 (5:38 ET)
#7 Headline Report 12-1
#6 Wit 7-5
#8 High Oak 5-2
#10 Power Agenda 10-1
The Ward trainee pressed a sharp early pace and was no match for Wit in a runner up finish over a wet track in the Sanford (G3) last out in his first start against winners. He was 5 1/2 lengths clear of the rest of the field. It may be a reach for this guy to turn the tables here but he owns solid early and mid pace numbers and was a smart looking maiden winner in his debut two back. Both of Wit’s wins have come on wet tracks and now he will likely be tested over a fast dirt surface. Our top pick looks quick enough he may be able to clear early and if he does and the racing strip is kind to speed this guy has an upset chance. Ward has had a good meet winning at a 18% clip but has not been doing it with juveniles as he is just 2 for 20 with two-year-olds here this summer. This guy was a $550,000 Ocala purchase, a big number for a son of Gormley who stands for just $5,000. The mare is by Tale of the Cat and has dropped two other foals to race, both winners including stakes winner Little Kansas ($198,327). The ridgling shipped to Keeneland after his Sanford effort and has worked quickly since his last start.
The morning line favorite stalked the early pace and drew away to easily win the Sanford (G3) over the wet track by eight lengths. He broke his maiden two back at Belmont Park, again over a wet track where he won by six lengths. He gets more of a test here but the Pletcher trainee should benefit from what likely is going to be a sharp early pace. The $575,000 Keeneland purchase is out of a Medaglia d’Oro mare that has dropped three other winners including G3 stakes winner Barkely ($366,425). Pletcher has won this race three times, the most recent with Competitive Edge in 2014. This colt is going to be tough but his price is going to be on the short side
This guy broke his maiden by a neck in his debut and improved his Beyer by 33 point when wining the Saratoga Special (G3) in his second career outing. He stalked the early pace, took command heading for home and drew clear to win by 4 1/4 lengths. He shreds top last out speed fig honors with Wit, both earning a 90. The runner up in his debut was Labarde, who has come back to run twice, checking in eighth and sixth. His last out Beyer seems high but the BRIS is just as good, earning a 97 to Wit’s 96. He does appear likely to appreciate the seven-furlong distance. It just seems a regression is just as likely as this guy running back to his last figure.
WIN: Headline Report to win at 8-1 or better.
EXACTA: 7 / 2,6,8,10 and 6,7 / 6,7,8