Defending champion Saginaw squares off against the up-and-coming Saratoga Snacks Aug. 1 at Saratoga Race Course in a contentious renewal of the $100,000 John Morrissey Stakes for New York-breds, 3 years old and up.
Saginaw, a 7-year-old gelding, is four-for-four this year heading into the 6 1/2-furlong Morrissey, a race named after the former bare-knuckle boxer who 150 years ago was one of the founders of the Saratoga Springs, N.Y. track.
Claimed for $30,000 by trainer David Jacobson for Drawing Away Stable in March 2012, Saginaw tied for the most wins in North America that year with 10, suffering a rare defeat when he finished third behind Saratoga Snacks in the Alex M. Robb Stakes in December at Aqueduct Racetrack.
"He loves being here in Saratoga," Jacobson said of Saginaw, whose most recent victory was a come-from-behind, half-length win in the June 1 Affirmed Success Stakes at Belmont Park. "We are looking forward to running in the race. At this level, against these horses, he will have to give it his best game."
Saginaw will leave from post position 3 with Junior Alvarado up as the 9-5 second choice on the morning line. He, like Saratoga Snacks, will tote 124 pounds.
A ridgling by Tale of the Cat , 4-year-old Saratoga Snacks is trained by Gary Sciacca for Bill Parcells' August Dawn Farm. He has finished first or second in all of his eight starts, including a 1 1/4-length victory in Belmont Park's June 30 Shy Groom Stakes, his first start this year.
"He's doing good," said Sciacca. "This could be a stepping stone to the (Aug. 31) Forego (gr. I); we'll see what happens. He had a good blowout on Saturday (three furlongs in :37.22) and he's ready to go."
The 7-5 morning-line favorite, Saratoga Snacks drew post position 2 and will be ridden by Joel Rosario.
Having taken an optional claimer by 5 3/4 lengths July 20, Night Maneuver is already a winner at the Spa's 150th anniversary meet. He returns to stakes company for the first time since a third-place finish in the June 2012 Mike Lee Stakes at Belmont.
Trained by Gary Contessa for Darlene Bilinski, the 4-year-old gelding drew the rail under jockey Rajiv Maragh and was listed at 7-2 on the morning line.
Completing the field are two veterans from trainer Mike Hushion: multiple stakes winner Mine Over Matter and B Shanny, who were second and third, respectively, behind Saratoga Snacks in the Shy Groom.
$100,000 John Morrissey Stakes (Race 6, approximate post time 3:46 p.m. EDT), for 3YOs & Up, New York-breds
PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer, ML Odds