Salvator Mile H. (gr. III)

(gr. III , 8f ,)

NOTIONAL (B h, 117 lb) $180,000
In Excess (IRE) —Truly Blessed , by French Deputy
B—Vessels Stallion Farm LLC, CA.; O—J. Paul Reddam; T—Mark A. Hennig

Gottcha Gold (B h, 121 lb) $60,000
Coronado's Quest —Gottcha Last , by Pleasant Tap
B—Centaur Farms, Inc., FL.; O—Centaur Farms, Inc. (Heath); T—Edward Plesa, Jr.

Honest Man (DK B/ h, 117 lb) $33,000
Unbridled's Song —Oath , by Known Fact
B—Racehorse Management, LLC, KY.; O—WinStar Farm LLC and Fox Hill Farm; T—J. Larry Jones

Margins: 2¼, 2¼, neck. Others: Indy Wind 119($18,000) , Better Than Bonds 117($9,000) , Rathor (IRE) 117 . Winning Jockey, Joe Bravo.

HeÕs baaack. Once called Òthe most talented California-bred colt of his crop,Ó Notional had fallen off the radar screen after returning from injury with a series of unmemorable performances. On July 5, he made his presence felt loud and clear. The J. Paul Reddam colorbearer engaged the pacesetter Gottcha Gold in a spirited battle before drawing clear by 21Ú4 lengths in 1:35.84 in the Salvator Mile Handicap (gr. III) at Monmouth Park. It was a welcome result for his connections, who had nursed him back to health following a fractured cannon bone.

Once a star on the Derby trail, Notional broke his maiden at first asking at 2 with a 105 Beyer Speed Figure and then scored impressive victories in both the San Rafael Stakes (gr. II) and Risen Star Stakes (gr. III). He was a strong second in the Florida Derby (gr. I) before fracturing his left front while galloping about three weeks prior to the 2007 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).

He struggled to regain the winnerÕs circle after racing exclusively on synthetic and turf surfaces since his return this February. The Salvator was his first try back on conventional dirt.

ÒMr. Reddam thought the artificial surface in California wasnÕt suiting him well,Ó said trainer Mark Hennig after the race. ÒHe sent him to me in New York at the beginning of June. (Original trainer) Doug (OÕNeill) and I talked about him. He didnÕt know if he could attribute it to the surface or his injury after the Florida Derby. Doug and I worked together wellÑit was an East-West attack.Ó

Bred by the Vessels familyÕs Vessels Stallion Farm, Notional is bred on whatÕs dubbed the ÒRasmussen Factor,Ó that is, inbred to a superior femaleÑin his case 4x4 to the mare La MorlayeÑthrough different individuals within five generations. Vessels has since privately sold NotionalÕs dam, Truly Blessed, to Ernie Moody of Mercedes Stable. She has a yearling Jackpot colt, was barren for 2008, and bred to Hard Rock Ten.

Winner of the Met Mile (gr. I) and three other grade I stakes, In Excess, sire of Notional, is represented by 56 stakes winners. His six 2008 added-money winners include multiple stakes winner EZ Dreamer and Cave Springs. The 21-year-old Caro-line stallion holds court at Vessels near Bonsall, Calif. His 2008 fee is private.ÑJ.W.