Trainer Todd Pletcher will send out a pair of juveniles in Sunday’s $200,000 Sanford (G2), the first graded stake of the Saratoga meeting for two-year-old colts and geldings.
Pletcher has won the Sanford five times, taking the race last year with the Mike Repole owned Overdriven.
Onetwentyeight, a two-year-old colt by Discreet Cat will represent Repole this year coming off a gate to wire score to break his maiden on June 28 by five lengths under a confident ride from jockey Javier Castellano.
Castellano lands on the other Pletcher entrant, recent maiden winner Rose Junction, who broke his maiden on June 8 with John Velazquez aboard.
Velazquez was injured in a spill at Churchill Downs last month and will not return to the saddle until next week.
Pletcher has been the dominant barn with juveniles at Saratoga in recent years, winning 41 races with two-year-olds during the past three meetings at the Spa.
Rose Junction is the 5-2 morning line favorite while his stablemate Onetwentyeight is 8-1.
Four of the runners in the field made their last start at Churchill Downs including Bashford Manor (G3) third place finisher Special Jo, who will be saddled by trainer Steve Asmussen.
The stakes action starts with the second race, the $100,000 Duluth for three-year-olds going a mile on the inner turf.
Summer Front was scratched out of yesterday’s Virginia Derby (G2) to go here and is the 8-5 morning line favorite for trainer Christophe Clement.
The second choice on the mooring line is Howe Great (3-1), who will be late scratch. His connections elected to run him yesterday, the colt winning the Jersey Derby at Monmouth Park.
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Let’s head out to Saratoga for the Sunday’s featured race of the day:
Saratoga Race 9 The Sanford G2 ( Post time 5:30 ET)
5 Rose Junction 5-2
1 Handsome Jack 4-1
3 Bern Identity 4-1
6 Special Jo 5-1
Analysis: Rose Junction is one of two in here sent out by the Todd Pletcher barn that has won this race five times, taking the race last year with the Mike Repole owned Overdriven. Our top pick here was sent off as the betting favorite in his debut, and he showed good early speed dueling for the early lead and drawing clear late to win by three lengths. The runner up Lignite came back to graduate in his next start opening day here on Friday. The $310,00 purchase has a nice pedigree, by Dixie Union and the first foal to race out of the stakes winner Sandra’s Rose ($199K) who did her best work on turf Castellano takes over from the injured Velazquez and this colt looks capable of handling the extra furlong here.
Handsome Jack was dropped in for a $20K tag for his maiden breaker at Churchill Downs after showing speed and tiring to finish fifth over poly at Keeneland in his debut. It looks like Wesley ward pulled one off as this guy has some talent, finishing a game second in the Track Barron last out at Belmont Park behind the talented Shanghai Bobby from the Pletcher barn. The gelding was better than a dozen lengths clear of the rest of the field last out.
Bern Identity dueled for the early lead and drew off in the stretch to win by 13 3/4 lengths in one of the better looking maiden efforts at the recently concluded Belmont Park meet. Only two have come out of that race to run back and they ran third and fifth. He caught a sloppy track in his debut, chasing the gate to wire winner Sweet Shirley Mae, who came back to finish fifth in the Schuylerville (G2) on opening day here. The colt popped a bullet on July 15 for the Kelly Breen barn that is showing a 0 for 17 mark at the Spa dating back five years, 0 for 4 last summer.
WIN: Rose Junction to win at 2-1 or better.
EX: 1,5 / 1,3,5,6
TRI: 1,5 / 1,3,5,6 / 1,3,5,6,8