Wide open 14-horse field to battle in Woodward Stakes

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Gunnevera will return to Saratoga Race Course for the first time since running second in last year’s Travers as he headlines a full field of 14 in today’s 65th running of the Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward, presented by NYRA Bets, for 3-year-olds and up.

One of four graded stakes on the last Saturday card of the Saratoga meet, the Woodward, Race 11 with an approximate post time of 6:47 p.m., will be carried live nationwide on NBCSN as part of its broadcast from Saratoga from 5:30-7 p.m.

Margoth’s Gunnevera is coming off a 6 ½-length win against optional claimers on August 10 at Gulfstream Park in his first race since running eighth in the Group 1, $10 million Dubai World Cup on March 31 at Meydan.

 The Antonio Sano trainee will be running for the third time this year after starting his 4-year-old campaign third to Gun Runner in the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Invitational on January 27 at Gulfstream. After suffering a foot injury in Dubai, the Dialed In colt was given time off before his comeback three weeks ago. He will now be running at the Spa for the third straight year after winning the 2016 Saratoga Special and running second to West Coast in last year’s Mid-Summer Derby.

Jockey Edgard Zayas, who was aboard for the Travers and his fifth-place finish in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic in November at Del Mar, will be aboard from post 9.

Tapwrit will look to improve on a fourth-place effort in the Grade 1 Whitney when he returns to the Spa. The 2017 Grade 1 Belmont Stakes winner will be making his fourth start since running fourth in last year’s edition of the Travers. One of three entrants for trainer Todd Pletcher, Tapwrit returned from a nine-month layoff to run third in an optional claimer at 1 1/16 miles on June 3 at Belmont Park. The 4-year-old Tapit colt then ran fifth after tiring late in the Grade 2 Suburban at 1 ¼ miles at Belmont. Cutting back to the Woodward distance of 1 1/8 miles, Tapwrit stayed near the pace before tiring on a sloppy and sealed track in the Whitney on August 4. 

“I thought his two works since the Whitney were good, we’re hoping to catch a fast track and we think part of the reason he tired out in the Whitney was the sealed nature of the track,” Pletcher said. “He’s training where we wanted him to be, now, we need him to step up and run the race he’s capable of. In training, he seems like he’s in as good of form as ever. Hopefully, the surface will make a difference this time.”

Owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Robert LaPenta, Bridlewood Farm, Gainesway Stable and Whisper Hill Farm, Tapwrit will be looking for his first win since his “Test of the Champion” triumph and third career graded stakes win overall, joining the 2017 Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby.

Hall of Famer John Velazquez, aboard for the Whitney, will have the return call from post 4.

Pletcher, who is seeking his fourth Woodward win and first since Liam’s Map in 2015, will saddle two other challengers in Rally Cry and Patch.

In his first start since running sixth in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup in October 2017, Rally Cry finished fourth in an optional claimer July 21 at Saratoga.

“He needed that race, it was just a wicked fast past and he chased too hard and flattened out after that,” Pletcher said. “This would be a different pace scenario. He seems to do his best when he’s gathered up in the bridle, and that’s what we’re hoping to do.”

Paul Pompa, Jr.’s Rally Cry finished second to eventual Horse of the Year Gun Runner in last year’s Woodward, which came after the son of Uncle Mo registered a 8 ¾-length score in the Alydar in August 2017 at the Spa, earning a personal-best 110 Beyer Speed Figure.

“He trains exceptionally well, he’s always been an impressive horse to watch train,” Pletcher said. “Rather than put him in another allowance race, we’ll see if he can somehow get the kind of trip he got in the Alydar last year, where he was very impressive. If he runs his ‘A’ race, we feel like he’s capable.”

Hall of Famer Mike Smith will pick up the mount on Rally Cry and will break from the outside post.

Patch, who ran third in last year’s Belmont Stakes, will be aiming for his first stakes win and enters off a third-place finish to Kurilov and Realm in the Alydar on August 5.

Outside of a sixth-place finish in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap, Patch has done well at the Woodward distance, running fourth in the 2017 Grade 2 West Virginia Derby and third in that year’s Grade 2 Louisiana Derby.

“I think the mile and an eighth suits him well and hopefully he’s the type of horse who can benefit from a solid pace as well,” Pletcher said. “He’s not the most enthusiastic breeze horse, but he seems to show up at game time.”

Luis Saez will have the call from post 3.

Kurilov ran second in the Alydar, switching to dirt after four consecutive turf starts, including three Grade 1 appearances for trainer Chad Brown. After finishing eighth in the Grade 1 United Nations on June 30 on the Monmouth turf, Brown said.

“It’s a much tougher race now, but the horse seems to be doing well on the dirt,” he said.

The 5-year-old Chilean-bred was a Group 1 winner in his native country, where he made his first 11 starts before first racing in North American in November. After running second to Heart to Heart by a neck in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf on November 10, Kurilov will be going for his first North American stakes win with Jose Ortiz from post 7.

Seeking the Soul won an optional claimer on the Saratoga main track last year, helping to propel him to an impressive fall in which he ran third in the Grade 3 Lukas Classic in September at Churchill Downs before winning the Grade 1 Clark Handicap on the same track in November. After running fifth in the Pegasus World Cup, trainer Dallas Stewart gave the 5-year-old a six-month layoff before returning to run second in the Michael G. Schaefer Memorial July 14 at Indiana Grand.

Seeking the Soul shipped into Saratoga last week, putting in what Stewart said was an impressive work on the Oklahoma training track Friday. Hall of Famer Javier Castellano picks up the mount from post 10.

“He’s doing great; he had a good work here and wasn’t blowing hard [despite it] being a very fast work,” Stewart said. “He’s won here already, so we’re looking forward to running him Saturday.”

Yoshida, who ran fifth in the Grade 1 Fourstardave Handicap on August 11 at the Spa in his first race since running fifth in the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes in June at Royal Ascot, will be attempting to win at Saratoga for the first time in four starts for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott.

Yoshida, who won the Grade 3 Hill Prince in October at Belmont, started his year with a win in the Grade 1 Old Forester Turf Classic on May 5 at Churchill. Joel Rosario will ride from the rail.

Hence returned to the winner’s circle for the first time since his sophomore campaign when he won the Downs At Albuquerque Handicap on August 4 for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen. The winner of the 2017 Grade 3 Iowa Derby, who ran 11th in last year’s Kentucky Derby and ninth in the Preakness, will be running at Saratoga for the first time since his debut in August 2016, drawing post 5 with Ricardo Santana, Jr. set to ride.

Rounding out the field is a pair of entries for trainer Brad Cox in Term of Art and Leofric from posts 6 and 11, respectively; Sunny Ridge from post 12 with meet-leading Irad Ortiz, Jr.; Discreet Lover, the third-place finisher in the Whitney, from post 8; Imperative, out of post 2; and Zanotti leaving from post 13.

Spinaway

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Chasing Yesterday, Summer Wind Equine’s homebred half-sister to American Pharoah, will make her stakes debut today at Saratoga Race Course as part of a field of 12 juvenile fillies for the Grade 1, $350,000 Spinaway at seven furlongs.

Carded as Race 10, the 127th running of the Spinaway – a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies on Nov. 2 at Churchill Downs — will join the Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward presented by NYRA Bets as part of a live broadcast on NBCSN airing from 5:30-7 p.m.

Trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, Chasing Yesterday won her July 28 unveiling in memorable fashion, stalking the pace before drawing off to a 4 ¼-length maiden special weight win under confident handling from Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith at Del Mar.

The chestnut Tapit filly is out of Littleprincessemma, who produced 2015 Triple Crown champion American Pharoah, as well as Grade 1-placed American Cleopatra and stakes-placed St. Patrick’s Day.

“She’s not a really big filly, but she’s starting to fill out. She worked well for this and she shipped well, so we’ll find out what she’s made of,” said Baffert by phone from California. “We’ve loved her from Day 1. She’s always shown that she’s special. Hopefully, she gets a nice, clean trip and it sets her up for something in the future.

“She doesn’t look like Pharoah. She probably looks more like her mother, but I see a lot of Tapit in her too,” he added. “Her disposition is like Pharoah’s though. She’s a sweetheart, very loveable, like Abel Tasman in that way. When she gets on the track though, she’s like Pharaoh – all racehorse. She just turns it on.”

Smith has the return call. The pair will break from post 7.

John Oxley’s Catherinethegreat will try to bookend the Saratoga meet following her 4 ¼-length victory in the Grade 3 Schuylerville on opening weekend. The gray Florida-bred by Uncaptured was a well-clear second in her debut and broke her maiden by 10 ¼ lengths over a sloppy and sealed track in June before taking the July 20 Schuylerville gate to wire for trainer Mark Casse.

“She caught a pretty rough track [in her debut], and the winner I think had two starts already and had run well,” said Casse. “That filly beat us pretty good, but I was real happy with our filly. She kept running. When she came back, I thought she would run well, but I didn’t know she would win by 10 and an 80 Beyer.

“Then of course, when we came up here, a lot of people thought it was just that she liked mud [but] I felt pretty good about it. Last race, we had the one hole, and Jose said if she comes away from there running he was going for it, but I think she’s rateable too.”

Catherinethegreat will be ridden by Jose Ortiz from post 4.

Six-time Spinaway winner Todd Pletcher will saddle a talented trio in Virginia Eloise, Guacamole, and Nonna Madeline.

Virginia Eloise was an impressive, five-length debut winner at Belmont in July before stepping up to the stakes level last time out the Grade 2 Adirondack on August 11. In that effort, the Curlin filly rank for Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano through the early going before putting in a late run to finish second by a half-length.

“She was a little too far back last time and she was a little green when the dirt hit her in the face. She did like a lot of inexperienced horses will do and she overreacted and backed up,” said Pletcher. “She got on track a little too late, but she closed well. She’s one that we feel like is bred to handle longer distances, so we are looking forward to stretching her out a little more. I think ultimately two turns will be her game.”

Guacamole was a wide-running third in the Adirondack following her Spa unveiling, where the Flat Out filly battled Super Simple down the lane to come up a nose short at the wire on July 26. She was elevated to the win following the disqualification of Super Simple for interference.

“I thought she ran a respectable race in the Adirondack,” Pletcher said. “She’s a hearty filly, maintains her weight well, so we’re looking to try her again.”

Nonna Madeline, by Candy Ride, is exiting a runner-up finish to Catherinethegreat in the Schuylerville, where she broke a step slow and was unable to catch the frontrunner.

“She didn’t get away well, but she made a solid move and finished a nice second, and we’ve been pointing for this since then,” said Pletcher.

Virginia Eloise will have the services of Castellano from post 3. Guacamole will break from post 8 with Luis Saez aboard, while Nonna Madeline will be ridden from post 5 by Hall of Famer John Velazquez.

Rounding out the field for the Spinaway are Restless Rider, a game 11 ¼-length winner of the Debutante on June 30 at Churchill; runaway Miss Ohio heroine Baby Nina; maiden winner Sippican Harbor, who graduated on August 12 at Saratoga by an eye-catching 17 lengths in an off-the-turf maiden special weight; as well as Cassies Dreamer, Bella Ciao, Reflect, and Love My Honey.

Glens Falls

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Today’s Grade 2, $250,000 Glens Falls will feature a wide-open affair with eight fillies and mares set to contest the 1 3/8 miles over Saratoga Race Course’s inner turf.

One of four stakes races on the day highlighted by the Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward presented by NYRA Bets, the 23rd running of the Glens Falls will be joined by the Grade 1, $350,000 Spinaway for juvenile fillies and the Grade 3, $300,000 Saranac for 3-year-olds.

Televised coverage of Woodward Day will be nationally broadcast on NBCSN from 5:30-7p.m. Additionally, Saratoga Live will air nationally on FS2 from 2:30 – 4:30 p.m. and regionally on MSG+, FOX Sports Prime Ticket and FOX Sports San Diego and Altitude.

The 23rd running of the Glens Falls will see Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey saddle Allen Stable’s filly Danceland, with the hope that she will remain perfect through two starts at the Spa and capture her first graded stakes victory. The 4-year-old Tapit filly closed strong last out, posting a half-length win against optional claimers earlier in the meet on August 2.

She will now make her fourth start of the year after beginning the year by beating only three in an 11-horse field at Keeneland in an allowance level start. She then returned against conditional claimers to win by a nose on June 16 at Belmont Park.

“She’s doing really well,” McGaughey said. “Obviously her two races are good this year. This is a big step up for her, I like the distance, I think she’ll settle in behind horses and go from there. Right now, I’m looking forward to running her. She needed time off then, so we gave her time off, then she had a horrid trip at Keeneland. We brought her back, and she ran really well at Belmont. So far, so good.”

Danceland will be joined by Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez from post 4.

Among the three starters trainer Chad Brown will send to the post is Klaravich Stables’ Homeland Security, the one-length winner of the 1 1/2 mile, $100,000 River Memories on July 8 at Belmont Park. The 4-year-old by Smart Strike is a Kentucky bred who has displayed a strong closing kick and thrives as the distance increases. She will look to add her first graded stakes victory in breaking from post 6.

Mrs. John Magnier’s multiple graded stakes winner Santa Monica will make her fourth start in the United States after 21 career starts in Ireland. The 5-year-old English-bred Mastercraftsman mare ended her European tour in the 32red E.B.F Stallion River Eden Stakes at Lingfield in England with a ninth-place finish.

She is the only to boast more than one graded or group stakes win in the Glens Falls field, capturing last year’s Group 3 Munster Oaks by a neck in June 2017 at Cork. In her last race, she earned a graded stakes win with a front-running half-length score in the Grade 2 Dance Smartly on June 30 at Woodbine.

Santa Monica began the current campaign at Keeneland while debuting for Brown’s barn and drew away to a four-length victory against allowance foes at 1 1/2 miles over a turf course labeled good. She then shipped north and missed to settle for a close third behind Holy Helena and Lottie in the Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay Stakes on May 5 at Belmont Park before the mare trekked to Canada for her last start. She drew post 5 with meet-leading rider Irad Ortiz, Jr. aboard.

Martin S. Schwartz’s Onthemoonagain is entry from Brown’s contingent with overseas experience, finishing third in her U.S. debut after a rough start where she was impeded late against conditional claimers on August 2 at Saratoga. The French-bred 4-year-old filly by Cape Cross owns eight starts in France, with five of those in against graded stakes company.

“They’re coming into the Glens Falls the right way,” Brown said. “Both horses have been training particularly well.”

Onthemoonagain will run from post 3 and be ridden by Hall of Fame rider Javier Castellano.

Lady Montdore will carry Godolphin Racing’s blue around the inner turf while making her second start in the country following five starts in France for trainer Andre Fabre. The 4-year-old Kentucky-bred filly by Medaglia d’ Oro won her first race in the U.S. on August 6 at Saratoga, registering a 4 ½-length victory, stalking the leaders from off the pace.

Lady Montdore will start from post 8 and be ridden by Manuel Franco.

Blackstone River Stable’s La Manta Gris, a Lemon Drop Kid filly, will run from post 7 with Ricardo Santana, Jr. in the irons.

Savannah Belle will make her 18th career start for trainer Brian Lynch and returns after finishing fourth in the 1 1/4 mile Waya Stakes on August 12. The 4-year-old filly by Discreetly Mine drew post 2 and gets Luis Saez in the saddle.

Graded stakes-winner Summersault, third in the River Memories and seventh in the Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay, owns the most experience in the fray with 33 starts heading into the Glens Falls. The 6-year-old mare by Rock Hard Ten drew the rail and Jose Lezcano.

Land Mine is entered to run on the main track only.

Saranac

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Raging Bull, who bested Maraud by a nose in the Grade 2 Hall of Fame, will face his rival again in the Grade 3, $300,000 Saranac today at Saratoga Race Course.

One of four stakes races on the day highlighted by the Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward presented by NYRA Bets, the Saranac will be joined by the Grade 1, $350,000 Spinaway for juvenile fillies and the Grade 2, $250,000 Glens Falls for fillies and mares.

Televised coverage of Woodward Day will be nationally broadcast on NBCSN from 5:30 – 7p.m. Additionally, Saratoga Live will air nationally on FS2 from 2:30 – 4:30 p.m. and regionally on MSG+, FOX Sports Prime Ticket and FOX Sports San Diego and Altitude.

Raging Bull, a French-bred son of Dark Angel for owner Peter Brant and trainer Chad Brown, won his debut on April 19 at Keeneland and followed with an optional claiming win at Belmont in June. Trying stakes company for the first time in July, he finished second-the Manila on July 4 at Belmont Park before winning in the Hall of Fame.

Earning a co-field-high 92 Beyer Speed Figure along with Maraud for that victory on a turf course listed as yielding, Brown said he was encouraged with how Raging Bull has come along since the race, breezing four furlongs in 50.77 seconds on the Oklahoma training track last week Friday in his final preparation for the race.

“He’s been coming along well,” said Brown. “My only concern would be if the turf course isn’t playing fair with his running style, but otherwise it’s all systems go.”

Raging Bull will leave from post 3 with regular rider Joel Rosario.

Breaking his maiden at Saratoga in his juvenile debut, Treadway Racing Stable’s Maraud will look to turn the tables on Raging Bull.

Trained by Todd Pletcher, the Blame colt has made 10 lifetime starts with four victories, one second and two third-place finishes. Kicking off his 2018 campaign with a victory in the Grade 3 Palm Beach on March 3 at Gulfstream Park, he followed with a disappointing fifth-place finish in the Grade 3 Transylvania at Parx Racing before winning the Grade 2 American Turf at Churchill Downs. Maraud finished fourth and sixth respectively in his previous two starts before the Hall of Fame, Pletcher said he expects Maraud to be at his top form today.

“He’s trained well since his last race,” said Pletcher. “He was a little unlucky to miss a head bob in his last race, but he acts like he’s maintained his form like he usually does coming in for this.”

Maraud will depart form post 9 with meet-leading rider Irad Ortiz, Jr. in the irons.

Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen enters Woodford Racing’s Hot Springs.

Purchased for $750,000 as a yearling, the Uncle Mo colt rebounded from a ninth-place finish debut with an impressive 4 ½ length victory in his second start on June 3 at Churchill Downs. Following up win an allowance victory at Churchill on July 29, he made his graded stakes debut in the Grade 3 Kent on July 14 at Delaware Park, where he finished second to Golden Brown.

Hot Springs will leave from post 6 with Ricardo Santanta, Jr. aboard.

Trainer Christophe Clement has entered Therapist for Oak Bluff Stables and Up the Ante for Castleton Lyons. Rounding out the field is Golden Brown, Sand Dancer, March to the Arch and Free Drop Billy.

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