Fantastico Roberto, who set the pace but tired in the Jersey Derby last out, was tabbed as the 5-2 morning-line favorite in the $100,000 Saranac (gr. IIIT) Sept. 5 on the Saratoga turf course. A field of six 3-year-olds was entered for the 1 3/16-mile test.
Owned by Team Valor International, Irish-bred Fastastico Roberto began his career with a pair of victories in Italy before coming to North America last summer, He finished fourth in the Spectacular Bid at Arlington Park and third in the Summer Stakes (Can-IIIT) at Woodbine to close out his juvenile campaign.
Second in his first two starts as a 3-year-old, the Refuse To Bend colt scored his first stateside victory in the Choice Stakes at Monmouth, but then finished seventh of eighth after a headstrong start as the favorite in the Jersey Derby on Aug. 1.
“In the Saranac, he’ll be reunited with John Velazquez, and we’ll be taking the blinkers off to see if we can get him to settle,” said trainer Todd Pletcher, who has never won the Saranac. “His race prior to the Jersey Derby was very good, and the distance here should suit him well.”
Fastastico Roberto was bred by Flor Ryan and is out of the Fantastic Light mare Fantastic Account.
Centennial Farms’ Devon Rock, who was third behind Fantastico Roberto in the Choice, came off that effort to post another third-place finish in a July 29 allowance at Saratoga, beaten two lengths as the favorite after being forced three-wide on the far turn. The lightly raced son of Rock Hard Ten, who broke his maiden in his second start at Belmont Park on June 5, has been training well at the Spa, including a bullet work in 1:02.25 over the training track on Aug. 21.
The Jimmy Jerkens trainee will be ridden by Javier Castellano.
Making his first start in graded stakes company will be Sequoia Racing’s Mystic, who was unraced as a juvenile. A winner of two of his seven starts this year, including a three-quarters of a length victory going 1 1/8 miles at the Spa on Aug. 7, the 7-2 second choice will be ridden by Kent Desormeaux.
Namcook Stables’ Lethal Combination, who also began his career abroad, was impressive in finishing third in the Quick Call Stakes at the Spa on July 29, rallying from seventh, 11 lengths back, to miss by a length in fourth.
“He’s doing very well,” said trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, who trains the Broken Vow colt. “I thought his last race was very good; he came running going a mile and was going strong at the end.”
Citrus Kid, seventh in his debut at the Spa last summer and fifth in the Hall of Fame (gr. IIT) on Aug. 13, and Turf Melody, who was fifth in the Quick Call in his most recent start, complete the field.
$100,000 Saranac (gr. IIIT, Race 9, 5:22 p.m.), 3YO, 1 3/16 Miles (Turf) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer 1. Turf Melody (KY), R A Dominguez, 117, H G Motion
2. Fantastico Roberto (IRE), J R Velazquez, 119, T A Pletcher
3. Lethal Combination (KY), A Garcia, 117, K P McLaughlin
4. Mystic (KY), K J Desormeaux, 117, W I Mott
5. Devon Rock (KY), J Castellano, 117, J A Jerkens
6. Citrus Kid (KY), C Hill, 117, J P Terranova II