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Breeders' Cup 2017

Soldat Solid Choice in Pilgrim

Soldat, who broke his maiden in the Grade 3 With Anticipation at Saratoga Race Course last time out, heads a talented field of juveniles in Sunday’s 32nd running of the Grade 3, $150,000 Pilgrim at Belmont Park.


It will be just the second start on turf for the son of War Front, who stalked pacesetter Typhoon Slew in the 1 1/16-mile With Anticipation on September 3 before drawing clear to a three-length victory in his first start around two turns. Soldat was a two-time runner up in dirt maiden races earlier in the summer.


“We’re excited about the race,” said Kiaran McLaughlin, who trains the colt for majority owner Harvey Clarke and W. Craig Robertson, III. “Harvey Clarke is a great owner and a nice guy – he’s been in the game for 30 years and it’s great to have a horse like this heading into these types of races for him. Craig Robertson owns a small piece of this horse and it’s one of the first horses he’s ever owned, so it’s fun for all of us.”


The 1 1/16-mile Pilgrim is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Race with the winner earning an automatic starting berth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf on November 6 at Churchill Downs. With his earnings from the With Anticipation, Soldat is likely already assured a spot in that race, and is the current 3-1 favorite among ten potential contenders for the race as selected by the Daily Racing Form.


Soldat has also been installed as the 9-5 morning-line favorite in the Pilgrim and will leave from post position 8 with Alan Garcia.


Several other With Anticipation starters will run back in the Pilgrim, including runner-up Powhatan County and fourth-place finisher Air Support.


A maiden winner at the Pilgrim distance on opening day at Saratoga, Richlyn Farm’s Powhatan County finished fourth, but was placed third through disqualification in the Continental Mile at Monmouth on August 14 prior to being bumped at the break in the With Anticipation.


Javier Castellano will be back aboard and the pair will break from post 3 at 3-1 on the morning line.


Stuart Janney III’s Air Support also encountered trouble at the start of the With Anticipation, and Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey was content with the colt’s effort.


“I thought he ran fine, under the circumstances,” McGaughey said. “I wasn’t disappointed in his race at all. He got knocked back, and the course was speed-favoring. I thought he was in position, he just couldn’t catch up that day. It’s going to be different over this course and I think the softer ground will give him more of a chance to catch up. He’s doing really well.”


Maragh has the return call on the 6-1 morning-line co-third choice from post 4 aboard the son of Smart Strike, who broke his maiden going 1 1/16-miles at the Spa on August 13.


New York-bred maiden winners Deciphering Dreams and Dual Citizen will both step up into stakes company in the Pilgrim. Trained by Rick Dutrow, Jr. for Winter Park Partners, Deciphering Dreams got up late to collar front-running Dual Citizen in a 1 1/16-mile state-bred maiden contest at Saratoga on August 19. The David Duggan-trained Dual Citizen was making his first start in that race and came back to win impressively going a mile in New York-bred company on September 16 at Belmont.


Julien Leparoux will ride Dual Citizen, 6-1, from the rail, while Deciphering Dreams, also 6-1, will leave from post 2 with Ramon Dominguez.


Completing the field are Liondrive, The Flying Whizzer and Favorite Hour. Liondrive exits a neck win at seven furlongs on the grass at Belmont September 23, while The Flying Whizzer exits a runner-up finish in a turf allowance at Delaware Park on September 4 and Favorite Hour broke his maiden last time out over the artificial surface at Presque Isle Downs on August 27.  Running Tap may run if this race is moved to the main track.


The field for the Grade 3, $150,000 Pilgrim:








Dual Citizen (NY)

J R Leparoux


D P Duggan



Deciphering Dreams (NY)

R A Dominguez


R E Dutrow, Jr.



Powhatan County (KY)

J Castellano


G Weaver



Air Support (KY)

R Maragh


C R McGaughey III



Liondrive (LA)

J F Chavez


T A Ice



The Flying Whizzer (FL)

J Lezcano


J Cibelli



Favorite Hour (KY)

J R Velazquez


M J Trombetta



Soldat (KY)

A Garcia


K P McLaughlin


AE 9

Running Tap (PA) (MTO)



G Weaver






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