Trainer Potts eyes a first Saratoga win with American Sailor in Troy

Trainer Potts eyes a first Saratoga win with American Sailor in Troy
Photo: Laurel Park
Firm in his belief that Raj Jagnanan’s stakes winner American Sailor is better than ever at the age of 8, trainer Wayne Potts is taking aim at a big target.

Based with Potts at Laurel Park, where he opened his season in impressive fashion last month, American Sailor is being pointed to a return to graded-stakes competition in the $200,000 Troy (G3) Aug. 8 on the Saratoga turf.

The 5 ½-furlong Troy would be the third time facing graded company for American Sailor and the first since running 10th in the 2016 Twin Spires Turf Sprint (G3) at Churchill Downs for previous trainer Joe Sharp.

“He has a huge heart, a huge heart. He just does everything you ask him to do,” Potts said. “When he hits the racetrack, he’s all business.”

American Sailor, a gelded son of City Zip, won a turf sprint stakes at Sam Houston in 2016 and ran second in subsequent editions to begin his 2017, 2018 and 2019 campaigns. The connections skipped the trip this past winter and wound up not getting started until June 8, in part due to the coronavirus pandemic that paused live racing in Maryland for 2 ½ months until May 30.

“I think we did the right thing by finally letting him go out and drop his head and be a horse. We gave him the winter off and he came back, and I think he’s better now than when I previously had him, knock on wood, that’s for sure,” Potts said. “We’re very pleased with him.”

The speedy American Sailor earned his 14th career victory in the third-level optional claiming allowance at Laurel, opening up by as many as five lengths after a half-mile to win by a length in 1:03.53 for 5 ½ furlongs. He followed up with a determined runner-up effort after setting the pace in the Wolf Hill Stakes July 18 at Monmouth, finishing between Archidust and Shekky Shebaz – both turf stakes winners at Saratoga.

“It was a very solid field. We were thrilled. It was a super effort, and he gave it everything he had,” Potts said. “He came out of the race very good so I nominated him to the Troy. We’re going to look at the race at Saratoga, and I nominated him to the Da Hoss [Aug. 15] at Colonial [Downs] as a backup plan.”

American Sailor, seventh in last year’s Da Hoss, is among 17 nominees to the Troy. He was claimed by Potts for $25,000 out of a Sept. 3, 2017 win at Suffolk Downs and ran nine times with two wins and a second in the stakes at Sam Houston before being lost for a $7,500 tag in June 2018.

Jagnanan purchased American Sailor privately after he made one start for owner-trainer David Nunn, and has a record of 4-3-1 with nearly $300,000 in purse earnings from 12 races since being reunited with Potts.

Potts made two starts at Saratoga last summer, both with the gelding Dazzling Okie, finishing third in a mid-July claimer.

“I’ve never won a race at Saratoga, so it would be a steppingstone in the right direction,” Potts said. “We might get a short field there, who knows. We have to see how it all plays out, but as long as he stays like he is right now, I plan on being there.”

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