What to watch for: Mitole puts streak on the line in Vanderbilt

July 23, 2019 09:58am
Similar to the last time Mitole ran, 3-year-olds will go in Saturday's featured race at Saratoga. But a horse who ranks among the best in training will feature in a top stakes on the undercard.

Met Mile (G1) winner Mitole, last seen on Belmont Stakes day, leads the cast for the Grade 1, $350,000 Alfred G. Memorial Handicap going six furlongs before sophomores command the spotlight in the Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy.

That's just a bit of what to watch for from stakes that will be drawn later this week, with Del Mar also hosting a pair of Grade 1 races. Let's look at the probables...

Some of the East Coast's best are expected to line up against Mitole. But will it matter? He has won seven straight races and won arguably the year's strongest event in taking the Met Mile over McKinzie, Thunder Snow and others.

Imperial Hint, off since running in Dubai, could make his reappearance in this race. But there's also a softer spot awaiting if connections don't want to tackle the big horse.

Strike Power just missed in the True North (G2) at a bit longer distance, and Firenze Fire has done his best running around one turn.



Also Saturday at Saratoga, a familiar group of turf routers will meet in the Grade 2, $250,000 Bowling Green going 1 3/8 miles.


The Bowling Green marks the return of Sadler's Joy, who hasn't been seen since running third to Enable and Magical in the Breeders' Cup Turf. But it will be missing 2017 winner Hunter O'Riley, the recent United Nations (G1) hero who reportedly suffered a setback in training.

Beyond that, the regulars at this level -- Focus Group and Zulu Alpha among them -- should show up.

This race will have quite a bit to live up to considering Glorious Empire and Channel Maker, who's set for a return, finished in a dead heat for the victory a year ago.



Should he get travel squared away, according to Del Mar's racing office, Recruiting Ready will be shipping to California for the Grade 1, $300,000 Bing Crosby, a "Win and You're In" toward the Breeders' Cup Sprint.


The graded stakes-winning son of Algorithms was most recently third in the True North on Belmont weekend and runs for trainer Stanley Hough and Sagamore Farm.

Heading up the local contingent are Triple Bend (G2) winner Air Strike and Cistron, that race's runner-up who two back won the Kona Gold (G2).

Smile Sprint (G3) winner Diamond Oops could be another making the ship for trainer Patrick Biancone with the Vanderbilt also an option.



Sunday's Grade 2, $200,000 Amsterdam for sophomore sprinters is still coming together. But the local prep for Saratoga's Allen Jerkens (G1) is expected to feature a colt that trainer Jorge Navarro has termed the best he's ever trained, comparing him to the late Private Zone.


Shancelot is 2-for-2, beating Bodexpress on debut before he cantered to an allowance win June 23 at Monmouth Park. The son of Shanghai Bobby worked locally for the Amsterdam, timed at 1:11.10 for six furlongs on Sunday at the Spa.

Wendell Fong is a New York stakes winner this season, while Honest Mischief brings in high hopes -- but not the result to match in the Woody Stephens (G1) -- for trainer Chad Brown and Juddmonte Farm.
 



The weekend closes strong with Paradise Woods heading up the Grade 1, $300,000 Clement L. Hirsch, which offers a spot in the Breeders' Cup Distaff to its winner.


Now in trainer John Shirreffs' care, Paradise Woods will be looking to turn the tables on Santa Maria Stakes (G2) winner La Force, who took advantage when the heavy favorite stumbled at the start.


Secret Spice is a Grade 1 winner, while Just a Smidge has continued to grind it out in graded company since a Feb. 7 allowance score.


 

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