Tom Amoss came to Saratoga “with some anticipation and excitement” about the 2-year-olds in his barn.
Then again, so did many other prominent trainers.
“Saratoga is difficult,” Amoss said. “It’s difficult to be competitive. Although we’re excited about our 2-year-olds, we had probably some concern as to how competitive we would be against the other really good 2-year-olds up here.
“So far, so good.”
Amoss has recorded three wins during the 2021 Saratoga meet, two of which came in maiden special weight races for 2-year-olds. Filly Microbiome scored by 5 1/2 lengths on debut July 15 at the Spa, while colt Kevin’s Folly scored a 7-1 upset Saturday in his bow.
Amoss, who also is a TV analyst for “Saratoga Live,” talked Tuesday for the latest edition of Horse Racing Nation’s Barn Tour series. He discussed those two maiden winners and some of his other promising juveniles, in addition to other graded-stakes runners.
Kevin’s Folly. He went off Saturday as the fourth betting choice in a field of six 2-year-olds going 5 1/2 furlongs.
Jockey Tyler Gaffalione found a rail-riding trip for the Distorted Humor colt. He moved up from fifth place coming around the turn to first a furlong from the wire and stayed up as a 1 1/2-length winner over the Todd Pletcher-trained favorite, Master Game.
“It’s gratifying,” Amoss said. “He really prepared well. We knew the race was tough. We heard a lot about the Pletcher horse. To come away with the win and a win that we thought was impressive, that’s what we were looking for.”
Kevin’s Folly’s next start will come in a stakes race, either at Saratoga or elsewhere, Amoss said.
Microbiome. The Twirling Candy filly gave Amoss a win on the opening day of Saratoga’s meet, roaring to a 5 1/2-length victory under Gaffalione.
Microbiome will look to improve to 2-for-2 on Sunday in the Grade 2, $200,000 Adirondack Stakes going 6 1/2 furlongs on the Spa’s main track. She worked once since her debut, breezing four furlongs Thursday in 48.76 seconds.
“We’ll see how she does against winners,” Amoss said.
Owner Joel Politi purchased the Florida-bred filly as a yearling in September 2020 for $100,000. That’s $30,000 more than Politi paid in 2017 for the now-retired Serengeti Empress, who won five graded stakes, including the Kentucky Oaks, for Amoss and Politi from 2018 to 2020.
Cartel Queen. The Cairo Prince filly also ran on opening day at Saratoga, coming home fifth July 15 in the Schuylerville Stakes (G3). Before that, she was a second-out winner in May at Churchill Downs.
Cartel Queen returned to the work tab Saturday, but on the turf rather than the main track. She breezed four furlongs in 50.54 seconds.
“We really liked how she did,” Amoss said of her workout. “We’re thinking about moving her to grass for her next start.”
Saratoga hosts the $120,000 Bolton Landing on Aug. 18 for 2-year-old fillies sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs over the lawn.
Kneesnhips. The Connect filly was a debut winner July 4 at Ellis Park for Amoss and Politi. She won going 5 1/2 furlongs over the turf, and Amoss said she will also likely stay on the grass.
Kneesnhips joined Amoss’ Saratoga string following her Ellis win and breezed four furlongs in 50.54 seconds on the turf Saturday.
Ottoman Empire. The Classic Empire colt competed July 17 in the Sanford Stakes (G3), finishing fourth in a field of 11 juveniles. He was a debut winner in June at Churchill.
Ottoman Empire breezed four furlongs in 49.33 seconds July 27 at Saratoga.
“He still has some learning to do,” Amoss said. “He also broke his maiden first time out, and we’re kind of letting the development take place. I’m not sure how quickly we’ll run him back off that stakes race.”
Take the Backroads. The Will Take Charge filly takes a third crack at breaking her maiden Wednesday in the third race at Saratoga.
Another Politi-owned runner, Take the Backroads is the 2-1 morning-line favorite in a field of 10 2-year-old fillies sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf. Gaffalione has the mount on a filly who was third on debut at Churchill, then second at the Spa in her next start July 21.
“She’s got a strong pedigree for the grass,” Amoss said. “She’s on the grass (Wednesday) and the weather is clear. I think she’ll run very well.”
Other juveniles. When asked about more 2-year-olds that could make Saratoga debuts in upcoming weeks, Amoss pointed to Iberville and Mommasgottarun.
Iberville, a Pioneerof the Nile colt, breezed four furlongs in 50.78 seconds July 24 over the Saratoga turf training course. He was a $260,000 auction purchase in September 2020 as a yearling.
Mommasgottarun, a Maclean’s Music filly, breezed four furlongs Thursday at Saratoga in 48.76 seconds. She was a $110,000 yearling purchase last September.
Graded stakes runners
Dean Martini. The 4-year-old Cairo Prince gelding is training at Saratoga, Amoss said. The Grade 3 winner has not started since running ninth in a May allowance race at Churchill.
Dean Martini won last June’s Ohio Derby (G3), which was a points-paying prep toward the postponed 2020 Kentucky Derby. He is winless in nine starts since and sports a 19: 2-5-5 ledger.
Li’l Tootsie. The 3-year-old Tapiture filly won an allowance optional claiming race in May at Churchill Downs, but then finished ninth of nine last month in the Indiana Oaks (G3).
Li’l Tootsie has shipped up to Saratoga, where she breezed five furlongs Saturday over the turf training track in 1:03.66. She has competed in graded stakes at both one and two turns this season, and Amoss said the filly likely will focus on one-turn targets going forward.
For her career, the Politi-owned filly is 7: 3-1-0.
“She ran an inexplicable bad race at Indiana Grand,” Amoss said. “We feel like she’s recovered from that. We’re looking for a spot, but we haven’t decided anything specific.”
No Parole. The 4-year-old Violence colt, a Grade 1 winner in 2020, has not raced since finishing seventh at Oaklawn Park in April’s Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3). He is back in training at Saratoga, Amoss said.
No Parole is 11: 6-0-0 lifetime, with his career highlight a Woody Stephens Stakes (G1) triumph last June at Belmont Park. The Louisiana-bred runner’s lone win this year came in February at Delta Downs.
“He probably won’t make the meet here in Saratoga, but he is here in the barn and training on a daily basis,” Amoss said.
Sermononthemount. The 3-year-old Tale of Ekati colt was second July 7 at Indiana Grand behind Mr. Wireless in the Indiana Derby (G3) as an 18-1 long shot.
Sermononthemount will take on another Midwest derby Aug. 15, running in the $200,000 Ellis Park Derby at 1 1/8 miles. He is 9: 3-1-1 for his career, with his most recent win coming against claiming foes in May at Churchill.