After a fifth-place finish in the June 5 RTN True North Handicap (gr. III) at Belmont Park, Michael Dubb and Gary Aisquith's Sage Valley looks to get back to winning ways in the $100,000 James Marvin Handicap (gr. III) on July 19, opening day at Saratoga Race Course.
Sage Valley returned from a layup with a driving 2 1/4-length victory in the May 18 Maryland Sprint Handicap (gr. III) for trainer Rudy Rodriguez, building a four-race win streak which was subsequently snapped by his True North loss. The 4-year-old son of Discreet Cat had been on the sidelines before the Maryland Sprint after taking the Sept. 9 seven-furlong Mr. Nasty overnight stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack by 6 3/4 lengths.
Sage Valley carries 123 pounds as the highweight in a field of nine in the seven-furlong James Marvin, breaking from post 4 under jockey Cornelio Velasquez. The Marvin is race 8 of 10 with an approximate post time of 4:47 p.m. EDT and immediately precedes the $150,000 Schuylerville Stakes (gr. III) for 2-year-old fillies.
Live Oak Plantation's Souper Speedy , declared the winner of the Jaipur Stakes at Belmont Park on June 7, has also done well after taking time off to regroup. The lightly-raced 4-year-old Indian Charlie colt has been first, second, or third in all but one of his seven lifetime starts, and was runner-up by three-quarters of a length to O'Prado Again in the 2011 Remsen (gr. II). He finished second by a head to Big Screen but was placed in front of his contender after that one was disqualified for interference in the stretch.
"He's has two good races in a row since he's been away," trainer Tom Albertrani said of Souper Speedy, who was off from November of 2012 until April. "The horse has come back very well, so this race looks like an ideal spot."
Politicallycorrect finished third in the Jaipur Stakes for Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey and trainer Wesley Ward. The 4-year-old son of Kitten's Joy hasn't won since the Nov. 3 Damascus Stakes at Santa Anita Park.
B J D Thoroughbreds' 4-year-old Political Force gelding Right to Vote took the June 29 Kelly's Landing Stakes, run at the James Marvin distance at Churchill Downs, by five lengths for trainer Ron Moquett.
Laurie's Rocket was runner-up in the Kelly's Landing for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas and owner Willis Horton, and before that had a string of thirds in the True North, Maryland Sprint, and Churchill Downs Stakes (gr. III). The 4-year-old son of Bluegrass Cat looks back to March 23 for his most recent victory, the Count Fleet Stakes at Oaklawn Park.
Drawing Away Stable and David Jacobson's Strapping Groom has been running competitively at Belmont and was claimed for $35,000 by his new connections two starts back. On June 26 the 6-year-old son of Johannesburg wired the 6 1/2-furlong Lion Cavern overnight stakes by 3 1/2 lengths.
John D. Gunther and Eurowest Bloodstock Services' homebred Jaguar Paw exits a 5 3/4-length romp for trainer Chad Brown in the June 14 Three Coins Up Stakes going 1 1/8 miles at Belmont. He shortens up to this distance for the first time since August of 2012 when he was eighth in the Play The King Stakes (Can-IIT) on Woodbine turf.
Kasey K Racing Stable and Brier Creek Farm's Hello Lover finished third by 1 1/4 lengths in the June 22 Donald LeVine Memorial Handicap going the James Marvin distance at Parx Racing after winning a 1 1/16-mile starter at Pimlico Race Course on May 18 for trainer Robert Reed Jr.
Willyconker, claimed for $62,500 last time out winning a mile turf race at Betfair Hollywood Park on May 25, starts for the first time for Southern Equine Stable and Eric Guillot. The 6-year-old Pyrus gelding upset the 2012 Frank E. Kilroe Mile Stakes (gr. IT) last March on the Santa Anita turf at odds of 10-1.
$100,000 James Marvin Stakes (gr. III, Race 8, approximate post time 4:47 p.m. EDT), 3YOs & Up, seven furlongs (dirt)
PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer