Bern Identity won the Sanford Stakes on July 22 at Saratoga.

Bern Identity won the Sanford Stakes on July 22 at Saratoga.

NYRA/Adam Mooshian

Bern Identity Faces Pletcher Trio in Hopeful

George and Lori Hall's Sanford winner attempts to match Afleet Alex's rare double.

Todd Pletcher will saddle one-third of the starters in this year's $300,000 Three Chimneys Hopeful Stakes (gr. II) for 2-year-olds Sept. 3 at Saratoga Race Course, but Kelly Breen has the morning line favorite in Bern Identity.

The seven-furlong Hopeful brought out a field of nine on closing day of the 2012 Saratoga meet, including a talented trio from the Pletcher stable.

But the multiple Eclipse Award-winning conditioner would be the first to admit numbers don’t always guarantee a victory, nor are races always run the way one might expect.

“Maybe some horses will show a little more in the morning than others, but occasionally the dynamics of the race will unfold and perhaps the one you think has a little better chance doesn’t perform as well as another one,” he said. “In this situation, you take them all over there and hope it works out for well for all of them and that one of them can get lucky and win it.”

The Hopeful is a "Win & You're" Breeders' Cup Challenge race for the BC Juvenile (gr. I) Nov. 3 at Santa Anita Park. The headline event of an 11-race Labor Day card, the Hopeful goes as race 9 with a 4:52 p.m. EDT probable post. Also on the program is the $150,000 Glens Fall Handicap (gr. IIIT) for fillies and mares at 11 furlongs on the grass.

Bern Identity is part of a George and Lori Hall-owned entry that includes Vegas No Show listed as the 5-2 morning line favorite. Bern Identity, a colt by Bernstein, broke his maiden in his second start by more than 13 lengths June 1 at Belmont Park. He proved that effort was no fluke when he returned seven weeks later to handily win Saratoga's Sanford Stakes (gr. II) as the favorite.

Only a handful of juveniles have won both the Sanford and the Hopeful. Afleet Alex  was the most recent in 2004, and he went on the following year to capture the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes (both gr. I) en route to earning 3-year-old divisional honors.

The other half of the entry, Vegas No Show, is a supplemental addition to the field. The Hard Spun  colt broke his maiden going a mile at Delaware Park in his second start July 26.

Bern Identity drew post 2 and will be ridden by leading Saratoga jockey Ramon Dominguez, replacing Rosie Napravnik, who gets the call on Shanghai Bobby  for Pletcher. Vegas No Show breaks from post 8 with Alan Garcia aboard.

The only other horse in the Hopeful field to have defeated winners is Shanghai Bobby, part of a Starlight racing entry with Lawn Man. Shanghai Bobby, 2-for-2 thus far, is making his Saratoga debut after winning the Track Barron Stakes at Belmont June 27.

Pletcher's other two, Lawn Man and Repole Stable's Overanalyze , wheel back off impressive maiden victories at Saratoga. That's not surprising, considering Pletcher has had 21 juvenile winners at the meet from 58 starters.

The Starlight entry is 3-1 on the morning line while Overanalyze is pegged at 7-2. Javier Castellano has the assignment on Lawn Man while Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez will be aboard Overanalyze.

An intriguing entrant is Godolphin's Fortify, who drew off to an eye-catching 5 1/2-length tally in his Aug. 4 debut at the Spa. More recently, the son of Distorted Humor  zipped a half-mile in :46.11 Aug. 27 to signal his sharpness.

“He’s been our best, for sure,” said trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, who is enjoying a big Saratog meet. “Experience and success give a horse like Bern Identity a big edge, but any of these could be anything. You never know. We could just be plain old better.

“That’s exactly why the Hopeful is properly named,” he added. “You’re hoping you go forward from here to bigger and better things. We’re looking forward to seeing him step up to the next group.”

Joe Bravo will be back aboard Fortify, 4-1 on the morning line.

Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, a six-time winner of the Hopeful, has supplemented Robert Baker’s Royal Art to the race. Third to Overanalyze in his only start on Aug. 9, Royal Art drew post 6 and will be ridden by Rajiv Maragh as the 20-1 outsider on the morning line.

Rounding out the field are Majestic Hussar, a maiden winner over a sloppy track Aug. 11, and Show Some Magic, who broke his maiden fourth time out on Aug. 16.

Fortify and Royal Art race without Lasix.

$300,000 Three Chimneys Hopeful Stakes (gr. II, Race 9, 4:52 p.m.), 2YOs, 7 Furlongs
PP. Horse, Jockey, Trainer
1. Show Some Magic (KY), J R Leparoux, S M Asmussen
2. a-Bern Identity (KY), R A Dominguez, K J Breen
3. b-Lawn Man (KY), J Castellano, T A Pletcher
4. Fortify (KY), J Bravo, K P McLaughlin
5. Majestic Hussar (KY), J Lezcano, E Kenneally
6. Royal Art (KY), R Maragh, D W Lukas
7. Overanalyze (KY), J R Velazquez, T A Pletcher
8. a-Vegas No Show (KY), A Garcia, K J Breen
9. b-Shanghai Bobby (KY), R Napravnik, T A Pletcher
a - George and Lori Hall-owned entry
b - Starlight Racing entry
All carry 120 pounds.