Coming in off a 5 3/4-length victory in the Oceanport Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Monmouth Park, Silver Max looks for a repeat performance Aug. 31 in the $250,000 Bernard Baruch Handicap (gr. IIT) at Saratoga Race Course.
The Mark Bacon and Dana Wells runner will chase win number 10 in the 1 1/16-mile race over the lawn at Saratoga among a field of seven 3-year-olds and up.
The Bernard Baruch will be run as race eight of 12 on the card with an approximate post time of 4:38 p.m. EDT.
After his July 2012 Virginia Derby (gr. IIT) win, Silver Max was winless for 11 months, picking up his first 2013 score at Churchill Downs with a 9 1/2-length romp in the Opening Verse stakes June 1. Since then he's finished third in the June 29 Cornhusker Handicap (gr. III) at Prairie Meadows, and then scored at Monmouth in the Oceanport July 28.
With more victories than any other entrant at the Bernard Baruch distance to his credit (five over turf rated "firm") the Dale Romans trainee has the requisite experience. And with his recent strong finishes, is primed for the competition.
"I think he's back, and he'll end up being one of the best turf horses in the country when the year is done," said Romans of Silver Max, the 9-5 favorite on the morning line. "He had the makings of it last year. I squeezed the lemon a little bit, and he needed a freshener. He got it, and he's doing a lot better."
The Badge of Silver colt will break from the outside post 7 carrying 120 pounds with regular rider Robby Albarado in the boot.
Trainer John Charalambous comes to the Spa from Woodbine to send out grade II winner So Long George. The 4-year-old Arch gelding is fresh off a win in the July 21 Nijinsky Stakes (Can-IIT) at the Ontario oval, only his third start this year. Earlier this summer the dark bay finished fourth in the June 23 King Edward Stakes (Can-IIT) and on June 1 scored in an allowance/optional claiming event.
Racing in the colors of Up Hill Stable, So Long George has picked up six wins in his 13 starts, two over Woodbine's synthetic surface and one over firm turf. Emma-Jayne Wilson, who has ridden So Long George to all his victories, has the call and the pair will break from post 2.
Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) runner-up in 2011, Charlie LoPresti trainee Turallure was given time off and has only started seven times since. He is yet to come back to the winner's circle since his victory in the Ricoh Woodbine Mile (Can-IT) in September 2011.
"After we put him away after the Breeders' Cup, we brought him back in the (Maker's 46 Mile, gr. IT) at Keeneland and he ran a brilliant race, lost to Data Link . Then he kind of tailed off," said LoPresti.
There was a reason for the drop apparently. "He had bone bruising," LoPresti said. "We gave him all the time off and we brought him back. He hasn't run any bad races, but he hasn't been brilliant the way he was."
Turallure comes into the Bernard Baruch off a second to Seal Cove in a July 24 allowance/optional race at Saratoga. LoPresti brought him back to where he won the Bernard Baruch in 2011 in the hopes of seeing the old Turallure return.
"Right before we came to Saratoga after the race at Arlington Park (a fifth in the Swoon's Son Stakes), he started to show some real spark again and I thought 'I want to get him up to Saratoga where he really shined a couple years ago.'
"It's such a busy racetrack atmosphere and sure enough, when we got up there, the old Turallure was back. He was brilliant in his breezes...he ran a great race here. I think we've got him back to where he was."
Turallure will carry 117 pounds as he breaks from the 3 hole with Julien Leparoux up.
Live Oak Plantation homebred Za Approval, with three wins from his five starts this season, was second last time out in the Shoemaker Mile Stakes (gr. IT) at Betfair Hollywood Park. In his previous two starts he picked up consecutive graded stakes scores in the March 3 Appleton Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream Park, and Monmouth's Red Bank Stakes (gr. IIIT) May 18.
Though he will be stretching out from his last four starts at 1 mile, the 5-year-old Ghostzapper gelding has two turf wins at the Bernard Baruch distance. Christophe Clement sends out Za Approval from post 6 with Joe Bravo in the saddle as part of his highweight impost of 121 pounds.
Irish import Willyconker, a grade I winner of the 2012 Frank E. Kilroe Mile Stakes goes out for owner Southern Equine Stable. The Eric Guillot trainee will break from the 4 hole carrying 114 pounds, the lightest weight in the field.
Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott sends out Wachtel Stable's Tetradrachm, a 4-year-old Badge of Silver allowance winner who is 4-3-0 in his last eight starts. Paris Vegas, a stakes winner in France, seeks his first U.S. stakes score for Merrifield Farm and trainer Tom Voss.
$250,000 Bernard Baruch Handicap (gr. IIT, Race 8, approximate post time 4:38, p.m. EDT), 3YOs & Up, 1 1/16 miles (turf)
PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer, Odds
1. Paris Vegas (KY), R Napravnik, 115, T H Voss, 12-1
2. So Long George (KY), E Wilson, 117, J Charalambous, 8-1
3. Turallure (KY), J R Leparoux, 117, C LoPresti, 6-1
4. Willyconker (IRE), I Ortiz, Jr., 114, E J Guillot, 20-1
5. Tetradrachm (KY), J R Velazquez, 115, W I Mott, 7-2
6. Za Approval (KY), J Bravo, 121, C Clement, 3-1
7. Silver Max (KY), R Albarado, 120, D L Romans, 9-5