Kantharos Tops Saratoga Special

Kantharos Tops Saratoga Special
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire

Kantharos, who won his first two starts by a combined 21 ¼ lengths, could be difficult to catch once again in Monday’s Grade 2, $150,000 Saratoga Special.

After dueling for the early lead and drawing off to graduate by 11 ¾ lengths on debut at Churchill Downs May 13, Kantharos was forced to show a new dimension in that venue’s Grade 3 Bashford Manor July 3 after stumbling at the start. The Steve Asmussen trainee passed the test in style, sitting off horses up the backstretch, swooping to the lead nearing the quarter pole, and running away while racing under wraps to score by 9 ½ lengths.

“He’s a real smart horse – he has a good mind for a 2-year-old,” said Barbara Banke, who owns Kantharos with her husband, Jess Jackson of Stonestreet Stables. “I think he’ll run a good race, and we’re hoping a lot of people will turn out to see him.”

His connections pondered sending the colt to the Grade 2, six-furlong Sanford on July 25 before opting in favor of the 6 ½-furlong Saratoga Special.

“We considered the Sanford, but the timing was perfect with the Saratoga Special,” said Banke.

Kantharos, the 4-5 morning-line favorite for the Sanford, drew post position 4 and will be ridden by Garrett Gomez.

Trainer Rick Violette entered Sovereign Default and Bail Out the Cat in the Saratoga Special. Alan Garcia was named to ride both colts, with one expected to be scratched.

Sovereign Default has raced once, scoring by two lengths at Belmont Park July 15, with the third-place finisher Punster returning to finish second by a nose at Saratoga August 7.

“We have at least one potential star in here, and the horses who just broke their maidens need to confirm how good they are,” said Violette, who trains both entrants for Klaravich Stables and William H. Lawrence. “The horse who finished third in Sovereign Default’s race nearly won the other day, and the runner-up [Stay Thirsty] races tomorrow.”

Bail Out the Cat, meanwhile, debuted a 2 ½-length winner at Belmont June 10, then was sixth in the Grade 2 Sanford at Saratoga July 25 after acting up at the gate and missing the break.

“Bail Out the Cat had the disastrous gate incident that virtually eliminated him,” said Violette. “We’ve done a lot of gate schooling with him since then, and he’s been perfect every time.”

Sovereign Default and Bail Out the Cat, a coupled entry, were installed as the 8-5 second choice.

Wetzel, previously trained by Asmussen, was acquired privately by IEAH Stables after digging in to win by a nose in his first start, a maiden event at Keeneland April 2. Subsequently sent to Rick Dutrow, Jr., Wetzel enters the Saratoga Special off a fourth in the Grade 3 Kentucky Juvenile at Churchill April 30 in his first start for his new connections.

Ramon Dominguez will ride Wetzel, the 6-1 third choice.

Completing the field are Manchurian High, an unraced maiden, and Blue Right By, seventh in the Sanford.

The field for the Grade 2 Saratoga Special:

Program No.








Bail Out the Cat (KY)

A Garcia

R A Violette, Jr.




Sovereign Default (FL)

A Garcia

R A Violette, Jr.




Wetzel (KY)

R A Dominguez

R E Dutrow, Jr.




Manchurian High (FL)

F Lenclud

W Phipps




Kantharos (KY)

G K Gomez

S M Asmussen




Blue Right By (KY)

C H Borel

D Stewart



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