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Stay Thirsty Returns to Action in Vanlandingham

Stay Thirsty (no. 9), ridden by Javier Castellano and trained by Todd Pletcher, wins the 142nd running of the grade 1 Travers Stakes for three year olds on August 27, 2011 at Saratoga Race Track in Saratoga Springs, New York. (Bob Mayberger/Eclipse Sportswire)
Mike Repole’s Stay Thirsty, who marked himself one of the leading 3-year-olds of 2011 in winning the Grade 2 Jim Dandy and Grade 1 Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race Course, will make his 4-year-old debut Thursday at Belmont Park in the 1 1/16-mile Vanlandingham overnight stakes, scheduled as the day’s third race with an approximate post of 1:54 p.m.


“He’s been training very well and we’ve kind of had a race around this time in mind for awhile, hopefully as a prep for the Suburban Handicap [Grade 2, $350,000  1 1/8 miles on July 7 at Belmont],” said trainer Todd Pletcher. “The main goal for the summer is the Whitney [Grade 1, $750,000, 1 1/8 miles on August 4 at Saratoga]. We’re happy to have him back.”


Stay Thirsty spent the first two years of his career partially overshadowed by his 2010 juvenile champion stablemate Uncle Mo, who has since been retired to stud. After winning last year’s Grade 3 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack en route to a seventh-place finish in the Grade 1 Florida Derby and a 12th-place showing in the Kentucky Derby, Stay Thirsty returned in the Belmont Stakes and was narrowly defeated by Ruler On Ice. After his spectacular Saratoga meet, the son of Bernardini ran third in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont and a disappointing 11th in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs last November.


“It’s been a long time since the Breeders’ Cup, we’ve got to start somewhere, and this is a good spot,” said Repole. “It’s fun to see him back in the entry box, even though this seems a little tougher than an average overnight stakes!”


On Thursday, Stay Thirsty (7-5 morning line favorite) will face the lightly raced, but talented Trickmeister, whose only defeat in a half dozen career starts came in this year’s Grade 1 Donn Handicap on February 17 at Gulfstream Park, his first and only start in 2012. Trickmeister was made the 8-5 second choice in the field of six. The Vanlandingham field also includes stakes-winning New York-bred Swag Daddy (20-1), along with Sastre (50-1), Arthur’s Tale (10-1), and Joan’s Choice (7-2).


“Bringing Stay Thirsty back this year was a no brainer and I’m excited,” said Repole. “He won the Jim Dandy, the Travers, and I think he’s going to be one of a really, really good group of older horses this year.”





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