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Bern Identity vs. Pletcher Trio in Hopeful

Trainer Todd Pletcher is looking to cap an extraordinary meet at Saratoga Race Course when he sends out a trio of talented 2-year-olds in Monday’s 108th running of the Grade 2, $300,000 Three Chimneys Hopeful.

A “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita Park on November 3, the seven-furlong Three Chimneys Hopeful is joined on the 11-race Labor Day card by the Grade 3, $150,000 Glens Falls.

First race post time is 12:30 p.m. and all fans will receive free grandstand and clubhouse admission on the final day of the 144th meet.

Heading into the final three days of racing, Pletcher had sent out 21 juvenile winners from 58 juvenile starters, among them Starlight Racing’s Lawn Man and Repole Stable’s Overanalyze, both wheeling back into the seven-furlong Three Chimneys Hopeful off impressive maiden victories.

Also coming from his barn will be Starlight’s stakes-winning Shanghai Bobby, 2-for-2 including the Track Barron last out on June 27 at Belmont Park.

While Pletcher-trained colts represent a full one-third of the field, he would be the first to admit numbers don’t always guarantee a victory, nor are races always run the way one might expect.

“Maybe some horses will show a little more in the morning than others, but occasionally the dynamics of the race will unfold and perhaps the one you think has a little better chance doesn’t perform as well as another one,” he said. “In this situation, you take them all over there and hope it works out for well for all of them and that one of them can get lucky and win it.”

Overanalyze, with Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez in the irons, will leave from post position 7 as the 7-2 third choice on the morning line.

Rosie Napravnik will ride Shanghai Bobby from post position 9 and Javier Castellano will be aboard Lawn Man, who drew post position 3, with the entry tabbed at 3-1 on the morning line.

Only one other colt in the field besides Shanghai Bobby has beaten winners – Three Chimneys Hopeful favorite Bern Identity, who broke his maiden by 13 ¾ lengths on June 1 at Belmont in his second start and returned seven weeks later to annex the Grade 2 Sanford at the Spa. Only a handful of juveniles have won both the Sanford and the Hopeful, most recently Afleet Alex, who in 2005 went on to win the Preakness and the Belmont en route to earning 3-year-old divisional honors.

Trained by Kelly Breen for George and Lori Hall, Bern Identity became the first horse to win the new $100,000 juvenile bonus from The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA), awarded to any 2-year-old maiden winner at Aqueduct Racetrack or Belmont Park who goes on to win a graded stakes at a NYRA track in 2012.

Bern Identity drew post position 2 and will gain the services of Saratoga’s leading jockey, Ramon Dominguez. The son of Bernstein will be coupled with supplemental entrant Vegas No Show, who broke his maiden on July 26 going a mile at Delaware Park. The Hall entry was tabbed at 5-2 on the morning line.

While race experience is considered a big plus for Bern Identity, there’s no denying the talent shown by Godolphin Racing’s Fortify. The Distorted Humor colt drew off to an eye-catching 5 ½-length victory in his debut on August 4 and zipped four furlongs in 46.11 Monday in preparation for the race.

“He’s been our best, for sure,” said trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, who has already won some of the biggest races at the meet including the Grade 1 TVG Coaching Club American Oaks and Grade 1 Alabama with Questing and the Grade 2 Jim Dandy and Grade 1 Travers with Alpha. “Experience and success give a horse like Bern Identity a big edge, but any of these could be anything. You never know. We could just be plain old better.

“That’s exactly why the Hopeful is properly named,” he added. “You’re hoping you go forward from here to bigger and better things. We’re looking forward to seeing him step up to the next group.”

Joe Bravo will be back aboard Fortify, 4-1 on the morning line from post position 4.

Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, a six-time winner of the Hopeful, has supplemented Robert Baker’s Royal Art to the race. Third to Overanalyze in his only start on August 9, Royal Art drew post position 6 and will be ridden by Rajiv Maragh as the 20-1 outsider on the morning line.

Rounding out the field are Majestic Hussar, a maiden winner over a sloppy track on August 11, and Show Some Magic, who broke his maiden fourth time out on August 16.


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