Pletcher's Juveniles Now Proven After Hopeful 1-2 Finish

Pletcher's Juveniles Now Proven After Hopeful 1-2 Finish
Photo: Coglianese Photos
Circular Quay rolls to victory in the Hopeful Stakes.
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The formidable two-ply entry from Todd Pletcher lived up to its favorite status Monday as Michael and Dorean Tabor's homebred Circular Quay defeated stablemate Scat Daddy by 4 1/4 lengths in the grade I, $250,000 Hopeful for 2-year-olds at Saratoga.

Far back early, Circular Quay circled the other four horses in the field under jockey Garrett Gomez after Pegasus Wind and Irish Ace battled on a pace of :22.36, :44.88, and 1:10.19 for the first six furlongs on the fast main track.

Scat Daddy, however, had come up the inside to challenge and, after being part of that speed duel, had to muscle his way by Unbridled Express to get running room. Circular Quay had clear sailing to the wire and prevailed to win the seven furlong race in 1:23.

"I thought both horses ran extremely well," said Pletcher, who captured his fifth straight Saratoga leading trainer title and sixth overall. "Scat Daddy broke a half-step slow and rushed up and had to steady a bit and was part of that speed duel. Circular Quay--the race obviously set up well for him. I expected Circular Quay to be last down the backstretch, but I didn't expect him to be that far back. He was way out the back, but it worked out well for him. That's kind of been his natural running style. Sometimes, when you're the lone closer, it's as good as being the lone speed.

"I think this puts both horses right at the top of the class," Pletcher continued. "I thought Scat Daddy, considering everything, was the one horse that finished up well out of the speed duel. Circular Quay... is the divisional leader at this stage."

A son of Thunder Gulch who is undefeated in three career starts, including two wins at Churchill Downs, Circular Quay (as did Scat Daddy) paid $3.60 and $2.80 for the win and place, with no show wagering.

Pletcher said both horses will be pointed toward the $2-million Bessemer Trust Juvenile (gr. I) at 1 1/16 miles at Churchill Downs on Saturday, Nov. 4. Belmont Park's grade I, $400,000 Champagne for 2-year-olds at a mile on Saturday, Oct. 14 is also a possibility.

"I'm not sure what we'll do," Pletcher said. "I'm not crazy about the Champagne being three weeks before the Breeders' Cup. It's possible that one might run in there, and it's possible that neither may run in there."

Unbridled Express was third in the Hopeful, followed by Pegasus Wind and Irish Ace.

"I was in a perfect spot turning for home, but he didn't kick in like I thought he would," said Edgar Prado, jockey of Unbridled Express. "I knew they were moving real fast in front of me, so I put him outside and bided my time. He was trying real hard."

(Chart, Equibase)

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