Trainer Todd Pletcher has become well-known for his “Todd-lers” at Saratoga, winning such 2-year-old stakes as the Hopeful, Spinaway, Sanford, and Schuylerville, all of which are graded. But for all his success with juveniles at the Spa, Pletcher has never saddled a winner of the Saratoga Special. That could change when he sends out Stat, a two-length winner of his debut at Belmont Park July 9 in the Three Chimneys Saratoga Special Stakes (gr. II) at 6 1/2 furlongs Monday, Aug. 15.
The Saratoga Special is race 8 and is scheduled for 4:56 (EDT).
Owned by Bortolazzo Stable, Stat, by Unbridled's Song, stayed about five lengths off the lead in the 5 1/2-furlong Belmont event July 9, then swept three-wide to hit the wire in 1:04.76.
“We were very pleased with his first start and are hopeful he can get us this elusive race,” said Pletcher, who earlier in the meet swept the first pair of juvenile stakes, taking the Sanford with Overdriven and the Schuylerville with Georgie’s Angel.
John Velazquez is back aboard Stat, who was made the 7-5 morning line favorite and drew post position 2.
The second choice, at 3-1, is Trinniberg, a Teuflesberg colt owned by Shivananda Parbhoo. Trinniberg, who set the pace in his triumph at Calder in his only start, will be ridden by C.H. Velasquez.
Highweight at 122 pounds for the Saratoga Special is Canadian import Banner Bill, who has won all three of his starts at Woodbine including the Victoria Stakes and Colin Stakes over Polytrack. The son Rockport Harbor is owned by R Plus Partners and will be ridden by Alex Solis.
“He’s been here at Saratoga since Monday (Aug. 8),” said trainer Ralph Biamonte. “I train him on the dirt up in Canada, and he’s been galloping over it here just fine. Alex gave him a little bit of a blowout the other day, and he said he was very, very mature and laid-back for a 2-year-old.”
Union Rags, a son of Dixie Union who won at Delaware Park in July, should get a good deal of support in the Saratoga Special by virtue of a bullet workout of :47.66 –the best of 44 works that Aug. 9 morning at the Spa. Union Rags is 5-1 in the morning line.
Making his North American debut in the Saratoga Special is Italo, a maiden winner at Longchamp in May who returned to finish last in the Coventry Stakes (Eng-II) at Royal Ascot in June. Jeffrey Sanchez rides the son of With Distinction for owner/trainer Wesley Ward and Ice Wine Stable.
Indian Evening, by Indian Charlie, rallied to win at Woodbine in his only start. The colt is trained by Josie Carroll for Vinery Stables.
$150,000 Three Chimneys Saratoga Special (gr. II, Race 8, 4:56 p.m,), 2-year-olds, 6 ½ furlongs.
Post Horse Jockey Weight Trainer ML Odds
1. Union Rags J Castellano 118 M R Matz 5-1
2. Stat J R Velazquez 118 T A Pletcher 7-5
3. Banner Bill A O Solis 122 R J Biamonte 6-1
4. Indian Evening R Maragh 118 J Carroll 5-1
5. Italo J Sanchez 118 W A Ward 10-1
6. Trinniberg C H Velasquez 118 B Parboo 3-1