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Fantastico Roberto Tops Saranac


With just a few days left until the close of the 142nd meet at Saratoga Race Course, trainer Todd Pletcher is well on his way to his seventh training title, having along the way collected victories in the Grade 1 King’s Bishop, the Grade 1 Betfair TVG Coaching Club American Oaks, and the Grade 2 Amsterdam, to name but a few.


Sunday, he looks to add yet another stakes victory to his impressive 2010 Spa resume when he sends out Fantastico Roberto in the 103rd running of the Grade 3, $100,000 Saranac for 3-year-olds going 1 3/16 miles on the turf.


Owned by Team Valor International, the Irish-bred began his career with a pair of victories in Italy before coming to North America, where he finished fourth in the Spectacular Bid at Arlington Park and third in the Grade 3 Summer Stakes at Woodbine to close out his juvenile campaign.


Second in his first two starts as a 3-year-old, the Refuse to Bend colt scored his first stateside victory in the Choice Stakes at Monmouth, but then finished seventh of eighth after a headstrong start as the favorite in the Jersey Derby on August 1.


“In the Saranac, he’ll be reunited with John Velazquez, and we’ll be taking the blinkers off to see if we can get him to settle,” said Pletcher, who has never won the Saranac. “His race prior to the Jersey Derby was very good, and the distance here should suit him well.”


At 5-2 on the morning line, Fantastico Roberto will leave from post position 2 under 119 pounds, two more than his six rivals.


Devon Rock, who was third behind Fantastico Roberto in the Choice, came off that effort to post another third-place finish in a July 29 allowance at Saratoga, beaten two lengths as the favorite after being forced three-wide on the far turn. The lightly raced son of Rock Hard Ten, who broke his maiden in his second start at Belmont Park on June 5, has been training well at the Spa, including a bullet work in 1:02.25 over the training track on August 21 and a seven-furlong turf work on Monday in 1:28.

The Centennial Farms’ color-bearer will be ridden by Javier Castellano from post 5 at  9-2 on the morning line.


Making his first start in graded stakes company will be Sequoia Racing’s Mystic, who was unraced as a juvenile. A winner of two of his seven starts this year, including a three-quarter length victory going 1 1/8 miles at the Spa on August 7, he will be ridden by Kent Desormeaux from post 4 at 7-2 on the morning line.


Lethal Combination, who also began his career abroad, was impressive in finishing third in the Quick Call Stakes at the Spa on July 29, rallying from seventh, 11 lengths back, to miss by a length in fourth.


“He’s doing very well,” said Kiaran McLaughlin, who trains the Broken Vow colt for Namcook Stables. “I thought his last race was very good; he came running going a mile and was going strong at the end.”


Alan Garcia rides Lethal Combination, 3-1 on the morning line, from post position 3.


Citrus Kid, who was seventh in his debut at the Spa last summer and returned to finish fifth in the Grade 2 Hall of Game on August 13, and Turf Melody, who was fifth in the Quick Call in his most recent start, complete the field for the Saranac.


The field for the Grade 3 Saranac:








Turf Melody (KY)

R A Dominguez


H G Motion



Fantastico Roberto (IRE)

J R Velazquez


T A Pletcher



Lethal Combination (KY)

A Garcia


K P McLaughlin



Mystic (KY)

K J Desormeaux


W I Mott



Devon Rock (KY)

J Castellano


J A Jerkens



Citrus Kid (KY)

C Hill


J P Terranova, II







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