Todd Pletcher, eight times the leading trainer at Saratoga Race Course, always links his success at the meet to the performance of his 2-year-olds. Among his promising juveniles this year are Rose Junction and Onetwentyeight, who make their stakes debuts in the $200,000 Sanford (gr. II) going six furlongs July 22.
The Sanford is the featured ninth race on the card at the upstate oval, with an approximate post of 5:20 p.m. EDT.
Both Rose Junction, owned by Starlight Racing, and Mike Repole's Onetwentyeight were maiden winners at Belmont Park, making them eligible for the New York Racing Association's new $100,000 juvenile bonus, awarded to any 2-year-old maiden winner at Belmont or Aqueduct Racetrack that goes on to win a graded stakes at NYRA track in 2012.
Rose Junction earned an 88 Beyer speed figure for his three-length victory June 8, running five furlongs in :57.17. The Dixie Union colt was a $310,000 yearling purchase at the Keeneland September yearling sale.
Onetwentyeight, a half-brother to multiple graded stakes winner Tackleberry, was bought for $150,000 in March at the Ocala Breeders' Sale Co.'s select sale of 2-year-olds in training. Like his stablemate, the son of Discreet Cat was a wire-to-wire winner of his debut when he scored by five lengths going 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:04.33 June 28.
"They're both in the same position as they broke their maidens in their first start at Belmont," said Pletcher, a five-time winner of the Sanford who took last year's edition with Overdriven. "We'll see where they fit. We would like to collect the bonus."
With Javier Castellano aboard, Rose Junction drew post 5 and was tabbed the 5-2 favorite on the morning line. Onetwentyeight, 8-1 on the morning line, will be ridden by Rajiv Maragh from post position 8.
Co-second choices on the morning line are Handsome Jack, who earned a 90 Beyer while finishing second to Shanghai Bobby in the Track Barron overnight stakes at Belmont June 27, and Bern Identity, a second-out maiden winner at Belmont June 1.
Handsome Jack, a Mineshaft homebred owned and trained by Wesley Ward, was fifth in his debut over the artificial surface at Keeneland in April. He broke his maiden going 4 1/2 furlongs at Churchill Downs May 10.
Bern Identity, a son of Bernstein who fetched $75,000 at Keeneland September, earned an 86 Beyer for his 13 3/4-length victory and accomplished that feat in :57.55. He is also eligible for the NYRA juvenile graded stakes bonus.
Having drawn the rail, Handsome Jack will be ridden by Joel Rosario. ern Identity gets the services of Rosie Napravnik from post 3.
One of the more experienced colts in the Sanford is John Gordon, who will be making his fourth career start Sunday. The son of Orientate was second in his first two starts at Churchill Downs this spring and came from just off the pace to break his maiden going five furlongs there June 22.
"He's well seasoned for a 2-year-old," said Dale Romans, who trains John Gordon for his breeder, Mike Tarp. "I think having a couple of races under his belt gives him a little edge. He's doing well, so we're going to run him."
Alan Garcia will ride John Gordon, 12-1 on the morning line, from the outside.
Completing the field are Brave Dave, who led every step in his debut at Calder Casino & Race Course June 30, and Special Jo, Hightail , and Good Tickled, third, fourth and fifth, respectively, at Churchill in the June 30 Bashford Manor (gr. III).
$200,000 Sanford Stakes (gr. II, Race 9, 5:20 p.m.), 2YO, 6 Furlongs
PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer, Odds
1. Handsome Jack (FL), J. Rosario, 119, W A Ward, 4-1
2. Brave Dave (FL), P. Lopez, 119, E Plesa Jr., 8-1
3. Bern Identity (KY), R. Napravnik, 119, K J Breen, 4-1
4. Hightail (KY), E.S. Prado, 117, D W Lukas, 20-1
5. Rose Junction (KY), J. Castellano, 119, T A Pletcher, 5-2
6. Special Jo (KY), J.R. Lepraoux, 119, S M Asmussen, 5-1
7. Good Tickled (KY), R.A. Dominguez, 119, D Miller, 15-1
8. Onetwentyeight (FL), R. Maragh, 119, T A Pletcher, 8-1
9. John Gordon (KY), A. Garcia, 119, D L Romans, 12-1