Moonlight Song will make his first start since winning the 2015 John Morrissey at Saratoga Race Course when he runs in this year's edition of the New York-bred stakes .
Trained by Charlie Baker for Albert Fried Jr., the 9-year-old Moonlight Song impressed in awork, completing five furlongs in a bullet 59.30 over Oklahoma's training track.
While Baker was pleased with the move, he said he wished Fried's homebred had a couple of works longer than five furlongs under his belt for the $100,000 Morrissey, which will be run at 6 1/2 furlongs.
"It was a decent work. He's always been a good work horse," Baker saidmorning outside his Saratoga barn. "He's a horse that runs well fresh, but you still have to get him to the point where he is fit enough to go. Last year, I had him really ready coming into the race off a layoff [with longer works]. Pretty much he is ready to run, but not quite where I would want him to be coming back off a layoff going into this race."
When the son of Unbridled's Song won last year's Morrissey in the slop, a track condition he relishes, it was following a near nine-month layoff. Plagued by physical issues throughout his career, Moonlight Song's latest setback was a suspensory tear. Although the tear was small, it kept Moonlight Song sidelined an entire calendar year.
Over the next few days, Baker will be schooling the quirky Moonlight Song in the paddock - and probably more than once. The gelding has always had the propensity to become agitated and is high strung. His trips to the paddock are as much about taking an edge off that nervous energy, as they are to reacquaint him with the Saratoga paddock.
"He's a character, for sure," Baker said. "We're going to school him in the paddock today,, and maybe , just to get him to the race in one piece. He gets really sweaty in the paddock, no matter what. We get him over there and then cool him off [with water]."
Baker reports that Joking, who provided the trainer with the first graded stakes win of his career when he won the Grade 2 True North Handicap at Belmont Park in June, is recovering nicely from a popped splint bone that necessitated him being scratched from the Belmont Sprint Championship July 9.
Joking, who is owned by Baker, is currently at Belmont Park and will resume training shortly with an eye on a fall campaign.
"I haven't picked a race out yet for him, but I know we will be ready to run in the fall," Baker said.
Hot City Girl is being pointed toward the fourth running of the listed $100,000 Shine Again on , trainer Linda Rice said morning. The 4-year-old chestnut filly is coming off a third-place showing in the Dancin Renee last out on July 3 at Belmont Park and was a possibility for the Grade 2 Honorable Miss.
But Rice said the Shine Again, for 4-year-old fillies and mares who have not won a graded race in 2016, could offer class relief.
"The distance [of seven furlongs] suits her a little better," Rice said. "She's doing well. She came out of her last race well. I wasn't thrilled with the set up in her last race. She went too fast early."
Hot City Girl, who ended her 2015 campaign with a second-place showing in the Grade 1 La Brea at Santa Anita, will be making her Saratoga Race Course debut in the Shine Again.
"We got a couple of nice breezes in," Rice said. I'm thinking she'll be ready to run mid-August. I don't want to push her."
at Aqueduct, could be pointed toward the Birdstone on , though Rice said she is leaving her options open.
Spending his first full meet riding at Saratoga this summer, jockey Florent Geroux picked up his first win at the historic race coursein his second of five mounts for the day aboard LNJ Foxwoods first-time starter, 2-year-old filly Bowie for trainer Steve Asmussen in Race 6.
Born in France, the 30-year-old jockey first made a pair of starts last summer at Saratoga, finishing second aboard I'm a Chatterbox in the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks and Grade 1 Alabama. Geroux finished 2015, his most successful year, with victories in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf on Catch a Glimpse, Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint with Mongolianand a victory in the Grade 1 Arlington Million on The Pizza Man.
Geroux's success has continued in 2016 where he was the leading rider at Fair Grounds, and notched a victory on the NYRA circuit earlier this month in the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks riding Catch a Glimpsefor trainer Mark Casse and owner Gary Barber.
Content after his first full day of riding at the Spa, Geroux was looking forward to the rest of the meet.
"I'm very excited about the weeks ahead here at Saratoga," said Geroux. "I have a lot of opportunities coming up and obviously, I'm hoping for more winners."
Already the regular rider for multiple graded stakes winner Catch a Glimpse, Geroux also is the main rider for multiple stakes winner Gun Runner for Asmussen who is possible to make a start in the Grade 1 Travers on. Although he will travel to California to ride at Del Mar in the Grade 2 San Clemente Handicap, Geroux will return to ride at Saratoga .
The fields for next weekend's stakes are beginning to take shape, anchored by the 53rd running of the Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy on Saturday, July 30.
Todd Pletcher-trained Destin owns a pair of graded stakes wins this spring at Tampa Bay Downs, including a game one-length score in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby. Owned by Twin Creeks Racing Stables and Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, the gray Giant's Causeway colt was sixth in the "Run for the Roses" before his gutsy bid in the Belmont.
Next weekend's stakes action will get underway with the $100,000 Curlin for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles, which is expected to attract last-out winners Connect, Dolphus and Gift Box, as well as multiple graded stakes-placed Swipe. Forever d'Oro and Majesto are also probable, while Flash McCaul and Voluntario are possible.
On tap for$100,000 John Morrissey for New York-breds is Weekend Hideaway.The Philip Serpe-trained 6-year-old is no stranger to the winner's circle at Saratoga, with three wins at the track in the past and will be looking to make it 2-for-2 following his victory in the race last year.
Todd Pletcher trainee Ostrolenka, a half-brother to stakes-placed Great
Gracie Dane,is another confirmed runner for the John Morrissey. The bay colt will be up against Weekend Hideaway again having finished fourth in the Affirmed Success at Belmont last month.
Other notable confirmed contenders for the race are Notacatbutallama, Moonlight Song, Love That Jazz, Eye Luv Lulu, Drama King and Crackerjack Jones.
The Amsterdam for 3-year-old sprinters at 6 ½ furlongs is likely to draw back-to-back winner Maniacal for owner-trainer Wesley Ward; Gold Fever victor King Kranz; Counterforce, winner of the Bachelor this spring; New York-bred Mind Your Biscuits; Quijote and Threefivindia. Cashel Rock is questionable.
Grade 1 Manhattan hero Flintshire remains on target for the Bowling Green, at 1 3/8 miles on the inner turf, for trainer Chad Brown. Likely to take on the multiple Grade 1 winner are Grand Tito, Smooth Daddy and Twilight Eclipse.
live racing program will be highlighted by a pair of stakes, the Grade 3, $200,000 Shuvee Handicap and the $100,000 Caress. Stakes winners Carrumba, Curalina, Jo
Probable for the Caress are Forest Funds, Harp N Halo, Miss Ella, Miss Matzoball, Richies Sweetheart and Unbridled Courage. Disco Barbie, Everything Lovely, Joya Real, Monster Sleeping and Rumble Doll are possible.