Seven juveniles attempt to rise to the occasion in Runhappy Hopeful
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Seven juvenile colts will face off in a quest to garner their first respective Grade 1 victories in the 116th running of the Grade 1, $250,000 Runhappy Hopeful on Closing Day today, going seven furlongs over the main track at Saratoga Race Course.
The historic test is the first Grade 1 event for juvenile colts on the East Coast and has been used as a stepping stone to Hall of Fame worthy campaigns for all time greats Regret (1914), Man o’ War (1919), Whirlaway (1940), Native Dancer (1952), Nashua (1954), Needles (1955), Buckpasser (1965), Secretariat (1972), Foolish Pleasure (1974), and Affirmed (1978), while solidifying Eclipse Award honors for Champion 2-Year-Olds Chief’s Crown (1984), Dehere (1993), Favorite Trick (1997), and Shanghai Bobby (2012).
Shadwell Stables’ Mutasaabeq arrives at the Hopeful off a stylish maiden special weight victory on August 8 at Saratoga, where he drew off in the stretch to win by 4 ½ lengths on debut, garnering an 84 Beyer Speed Figure.
Trainer Todd Pletcher, who saddled Circular Quay (2006), Shanghai Bobby (2012) and Competitive Edge (2014) to Hopeful triumphs, said that has been particularly impressed by the son of Into Mischief’s works from the gate. Prior to his maiden win, he worked a half-mile in a swift 46.53 seconds over the Saratoga main track.
“He had trained extremely well leading into that race,” Pletcher said. “His gate works were very impressive although his first step is not lightning quick. After that, he really gets going. I’m happy with everything he did prior to his debut, we were excited about the way he ran, we’ve been pointing for the Hopeful since then. He’s trained accordingly.”
Pletcher said that Mutasaabeq’s natural speed allows him to recover quickly.
“Once he got going, he put in an impressive run around the turn and it seemed like he had a lot in reserve,” Pletcher said. “This will be a step up in class and a stretch out in distance. There are some quality horses in there as one would imagine in a race like this, but we’re excited about giving him the opportunity.
“Hopefully he jumps a little better second time out, but we’ll play it by ear,” Pletcher added. “I liked the way he finished the other day, so seven-eighths should be within his range.”
Bred in Kentucky by BlackRidge Stables, Mutasaabeq is out of the Scat Daddy mare Downside Scenario and was purchased for $425,000 from the 2019 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, where he was consigned by Taylor Made Sales Agency.
Jockey Luis Saez, who rode 2017 Hopeful winner Sporting Chance, will ride from post 3.
After saddling last year’s winner Basin, Steve Asmussen will send out J. Kirk Robison’s Jackie’s Warrior as he attempts to become the first trainer to score back-to-back Hopeful wins since fellow Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas sent out High Yield (1999) and Yonaguska (2000).
The son of Maclean’s Music was an impressive winner of the Grade 2 Saratoga Special presented by Miller Lite on August 7, which garnered an 88 Beyer. He will look to become the first horse to sweep the Saratoga Special-Hopeful double since City Zip won the 2000 Saratoga Special before dead-heating for victory with Yonaguska that year.
Following a victory on debut at Churchill Downs over impressive next out winner Therideofalifetime, Jackie’s Warrior bested the same foe once more in the Saratoga Special in wire-to-wire fashion, crossing the wire under a hand ride by Joel Rosario.
“It’s good timing back, and he’s had a race over the track,” said Asmussen’s chief assistant Scott Blasi. “He’s done everything right for us in the mornings and we’re looking forward to running him. Seven-eighths of a mile is not going to be an issue for him.”
Rosario, the leading rider in stakes victories this meet, will return to the saddle from post 6.
Trainer Chad Brown sent out Practical Joke to a victory in the Hopeful for Klaravich Stables, who also won the 2011 Hopeful with Currency Swap. This year Brown and Klaravich will team up with Reinvestment Risk.
The son of freshman stallion Upstart won on debut and was geared down at the wire to a 7 ¾-length victory on August 1 at Saratoga, where he registered a 90 Beyer.
Bred in Kentucky by Aschinger Bloodstock Holdings, Reinvestment Risk was purchased for $280,000 from the OBS March Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training, where he was consigned by DeMeric Sales. He is out of the Candy Ride mare Ridingwiththedevil.
Jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. will be back aboard Reinvestment Risk from post 5.
Rounding out the field are Fearless Fly [post 1, Dylan Davis], Papetu [post 2, Jose Ortiz], Nutsie [post 4, Kendrick Carmouche], and Ampersand [post 7, Jose Lezcano].
The Runhappy Hopeful is slated as Race 13 on today’s 14-race card, which will feature a mandatory payout of the Empire 6 beginning in Race 8 at 3:39 p.m. The program also will feature the $85,000 Lure for older horses going 1 1/16 miles over the Mellon turf.
Today’s card offers a first post of 11:30 a.m.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Phipps Stable’s graded stakes-placed Breaking the Rules will look to go 3-for-3 to start the year when he returns to stakes company for the first time in the campaign in the $85,000 Lure today at Saratoga Race Course.
The eighth running of the Lure, contested at 1 1/16 miles on the Mellon turf course, is one of two stakes on the 14-race card with a special first post of 11:30 a.m. that marks the finale of the 40-day summer meet at the Spa
Breaking the Rules ended his 2018 campaign with his first stakes win in the Tropical Park in December at Gulfstream Park. Making his 2019 debut, the son of War Front ran second in the Grade 3 Canadian Turf at the same track before closing his year with a 13th-place effort in the Grade 1 Old Forester Turf Classic at Churchill Downs and eighth in the Grade 3 Poker in June 2019 at Belmont Park.
Off an 11-month layoff, Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey brought Breaking the Rules back on June 20 to compete over the Belmont grass, where he bested an eight-horse field in a 1 1/8-mile route. Cut back to the Lure’s distance last out on July 29, the Kentucky homebred posted a one-length win over firm Saratoga turf, earning the first triple digit Beyer Speed Figure of his career with a 101.
Breaking the Rules will look to win the third consecutive race of his 5-year-old campaign, drawing post 5 with Joel Rosario aboard.
“His last two races have been good. They’ve been spaced a bit now and I think he’s trained really well since we’ve come up here,” McGaughey said. “I’m looking forward to running him. This will be a good stepping-stone to bigger and better things.”
The Lure is named after the 2013 Hall of Fame inductee who McGaughey trained to a 14-8-0 record in 25 starts from 1991-94, including wins in consecutive years in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Mile from 1992-93. Lure won the 1992 Grade 2 Gotham on dirt before his remarkable turf success that saw him win nine graded stakes on that surface, including the 1994 Grade 1 International Handicap in Atlantic City.
“He was a very, very good horse,” McGaughey said. “He was a nice one to have in the barn. He was fast. He brought it all the time and anytime you have a horse that’s easy to train and as talented as him, it’s a lot of fun.”
Twin Creeks Racing Stables and Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners’ Virginia-bred Largent also enters with two straight wins including a one-length score in his stakes debut in the restricted Edward P. Evans going one mile on July 29 over the Colonial Downs turf.
With four wins and two runner-up efforts in six career starts, the 4-year-old Into Mischief colt will run in New York for the first time after racking up three wins at Gulfstream. Trainer Todd Pletcher said stretching him back to 1 1/16 miles, where he has one win and two second-place efforts in three starts, should be beneficial.
“He’s consistently run well every time” Pletcher said. “We had a little hiccup that cost us some time during the summer and that’s why we were delayed until the Colonial race. Since then, we planned on going back to another Virginia-bred race, but unfortunately they had to cancel the rest of the meet. This seemed like a logical spot to step up into some open restricted stakes company.”
Pletcher entered Friday’s action with 27 wins for the Saratoga summer meet, leading Chad Brown by one win with four days remaining in the race for the H. Allen Jerkens award. Pletcher has been the Spa’s leading trainer 12 times.
Luis Saez will have the call from post 2.
Brown, who is seeking his third consecutive Saratoga training title, will send out a strong pair of entrants led by the French-bred Olympico, who was second in the Grade 2 Knickerbocker in October at Belmont. Off a nine-month layoff, Olympico returned to run fifth in the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch on July 26 at Saratoga.
After arriving from his native country last year, Olympico made a stellar North American debut with a three-length win in the Grade 3 Fort Marcy in May 2019, earning a 103 Beyer. It was the first of three triple-digit Beyers in his career with the most recent being the 101 he garnered in the Knickerbocker going 1 1/8 miles.
Irad Ortiz, Jr., aboard for that effort, will have the return assignment in breaking from the outermost post 6.
Olympico’s stablemate, Devamani, has registered two runner-up finishes and a third-place effort last out in four starts during the current campaign. The French-bred 6-year-old will be looking for his first North American stakes win and first victory overall since November.
Jose Ortiz will be aboard from the inside post.
Ballagh Rocks, the winner of the 2017 Grade 3 Poker at Belmont, is 1-2-1 in five starts this year for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott. The 7-year-old ran second in back-to-back allowance races entering the Lure, starting at Churchill in June before last out on July 4 at Belmont.
Ballagh Rocks’ lone stakes start this year came in the Grade 3 Appleton in March at Gulfstream, where he finished ninth. Junior Alvarado will ride from post 4.
Rose’s Vision, a veteran of 21 starts for trainer Stewart Simon, will make his first stakes appearance in six starts. The 5-year-old gelded son of Artie Schiller won his only stakes in 2018 at Saratoga when he captured the Better Talk Now.
After making his last seven starts at Woodbine, Rose’s Vision will ship in from Canada looking to build on a 1 ¼-length win in a seven-furlong sprint last out on August 16.
Jose Lezcano will pick up the mount, breaking from post 3.
The Lure is carded as Race 8 with a post time of 3.08 p.m.