four months last year, no 3-year-old turf horse could come close to
touching Silver Max. In one race after another, the Dale Romans-trained
son of Badge of Silver flaunted a devastating combination of high speed
and bottomless stamina while winning five stakes races, three of them
graded, gate-to-wire by open lengths.
On Saturday, Silver Max makes his Saratoga Race Course debut as he takes on six others in the 55th running of the Grade 2, $250,000 Bernard Baruch Handicap, a 1 1/16-mile grass race for 3-year-olds and up.
Max raced 10 times in 2012 and won seven of them, with his biggest
scores coming in the Grade 2 Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs, the Grade
2 American Turf at Churchill Downs and the Grade 3 Transylvania at
form tailed off at the end of the year, when he was fifth as the 2-1
favorite in the Grade 1 Secretariat and ninth against older horses in
the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile.
to regain his form this year, Silver Max finished off the board in his
first two starts before winning an off-the-turf stakes by 9 ½ lengths on
June 1 at Churchill. Romans experimented further on dirt after that - a
third-place finish in the Grade 3 Cornhusker Handicap at Prairie
Meadows - and then returned Silver Max to the grass.
July 28, Silver Max looked like his old self, blasting to the lead in
the Grade 3 Oceanport at Monmouth Park and drawing off to win by 5 ¾
lengths. The performance produced his career-best Beyer Speed Figure of
102 and has Romans brimming with confidence heading into the Bernard
think he's back, and he'll end up being one of the best turf horses in
the country when the year is done," Romans said of Silver Max, the 9-5
favorite on the morning line, who drew the outside post in the field of
seven. "He had the makings of it last year. I squeezed the lemon a
little bit, and he needed a freshener. He got it, and he's doing a lot
entrant looking to return to top form is Turallure, a 6-year-old son of
Wando, who won the Bernard Baruch by 2 ¼ lengths in 2011.
by a nose by long-shot Court Vision in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Mile
that year, Turallure, 6-1 on the morning line, endured a winless 2012
and so far has been blanked this year. His second-place finish in a
high-quality $100,000 optional claimer on July 24, as well as his
physical appearance, have trainer Charles LoPresti feeling good about
the way he got when he got really good, and that's the way he got when
he got to the Breeders' Cup," LoPresti said, admiring the well-muscled
Turallure as he stood on an EquiVibe vibration therapy machine outside
his barn. "He looks really good, this horse right now. He's going to run
a really big race, I think.
Wise Dan, when you get to the fall of the year, mid-summer and the
fall, for whatever reason these horses get good," he added. "I think
Saratoga really agrees with this horse, because of the atmosphere, the
barn area, going to the turf to breeze. We go to Keeneland, and it's
really quiet there, and he gets in the thick of all this [at Saratoga]
and does good."
Turallure, the other runners in the field prefer to come from off the
pace, which gives a sizable advantage to Silver Max. One entrant using
new tactics lately has been long shot Paris Vegas, who has raced close
up in his past two starts.
his most recent outing, the same race Turallure exits, Paris Vegas
stayed within 1 ½ lengths the entire way and then finished fourth,
beaten by just three-quarters of a length under first-time rider Rosie
Napravnik, who retains the mount.
tried so much to take him back last year, we took him back so far, and
he'd make his run, but he was too far back," trainer Tom Voss said.
"We've kept him closer this year, and he's done much better. He's making
his run, but they're all getting first run on him. At least now he's in
position to make his run. We're here; we're going to take a shot at it.
He's doing so good, and he runs well here."
Paris Vegas, 12-1 on the morning line, finished seventh in the 2011 Bernard Baruch.
Approval, 3-1, a two-time graded stakes winner for trainer Christophe
Clement, enters off a second-place finish in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile
on June 29 at Betfair Hollywood Park. This will be the 5-year-old son
of Ghostzapper's first try at a mile and an eighth.
7-2, enters off a strong three-length victory in a $100,000 optional
claimer on August 3 in his first run for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott.
The son of Badge of Silver is 3-for-5 at the Bernard Baruch distance.
1 winner Willyconker, 20-1, recently fifth in the Grade 2 Fourstardave
Handicap for trainer Eric Guillot, and So Long George, 8-1, complete the
field. So Long George won the Grade 2 Nijinsky by three-quarters of a
length in his most recent start, July 21, at Woodbine.