Trainer Todd Pletcher entered Stay Thirsty in the race, the third on the program, on May 12, a day after the Bernardini colt breezed a quick five furlongs over the Belmont Park training track in 1:00.28. The Vanlandingham has an approximate post of 1:54 p.m. EDT.
“He’s been training very well and we’ve kind of had a race around this time in mind for awhile, hopefully as a prep for the Suburban Handicap ,” Pletcher said. “The main goal for the summer is the Whitney. We’re happy to have him back.”
The $350,000 Suburban, at 1 1/8 miles, is July 7 at Belmont. The $750,000 Whitney Invitational (gr. I) is Aug. 4 at Saratoga Race course.
Owned by Mike Repole, Stay Thirsty has not raced since finishing 11th in the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs.
“It’s been a long time since the Breeders’ Cup, we’ve got to start somewhere, and this is a good spot,” said Repole. “It’s fun to see him back in the entry box, even though this seems a little tougher than an average overnight stakes.”
Stay Thirsty is 7-5 on the morning line for his return.
Leading the opposition in the field of six is the lightly raced but talented Trickmeister, whose only defeat in a half dozen career starts came in the Donn Handicap (gr. I) Feb. 17 at Gulfstream Park, his only start in 2012. Trickmeister was made the 8-5 second choice in the field of six.
The Vanlandingham field also includes stakes-winning New York-bred Swag Daddy (20-1), along with Sastre (50-1), Arthur's Tale (10-1), and Joan's Choice (7-2).
“Bringing Stay Thirsty back this year was a no brainer and I’m excited,” said Repole. “He won the Jim Dandy (gr. II), the Travers, and I think he’s going to be one of a really, really good group of older horses this year.”
Stay Thirsty also won the Gotham (gr. III) last year and was runner-up in the Belmont Stakes (gr. II) following a 12th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). Stay Thirsty ran third in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) prior to the Breeders' Cup.
Out of the Storm Bird mare Marozia, Stay Thirsty has compiled a 4-3-1 mark in 12 lifetime starts with earnings of nearly $1.5 million.