The nation’s leading trainer, Todd Pletcher, who has won the Summer Stakes (Can-IIIT) twice and the Natalma Stakes (Can-IIIT) once, will have solid chances to record victories in both of Woodbine’s 2-year-old races on Sept. 18.
Pletcher will saddle Team Valor International’s homebred Pluck in the $250,000 Summer Stakes for juvenile males, and Edward Evans’ Street Chimes and Bobby Flay’s More Than Real in the $200,000 Natalma Stakes for juvenile fillies. Both races are at one mile on the turf.
The Summer Stakes, which will go as the fourth race with a 2:26 p.m. EDT post, drew a field of eight. Pluck, a son of More Than Ready—Secret Heart, by Fort Wood, broke his maiden at second asking July 11 on the Belmont Park turf. He made his stakes debut Aug. 14 at Monmouth Park in the Continental Mile, crossing the wire second by a neck before being placed fourth due to interference.
Pletcher, who won the event with Lismore Knight in 2002 and Dubleo in 2004, has assigned top rider Garrett Gomez to ride the colt.
Pluck is the lone Summer Stakes starter with stakes experience, but there are a couple of good-looking contenders in the race. One of them is Stormy Rush, undefeated in two starts at Woodbine for Roger Attfield, who saddled Patriot Love to win in 1997. Stormy Rush broke his maiden by 4 1/2 lengths on the turf in July and won an entry-level allowance race at six furlongs on the Polytrack Aug. 12 by three lengths. Jono Jones will have the mount on the son of Stormy Atlantic—Willow Rush, by Wild Rush.
Silverleo, by Badge of Silver, has also impressed in his last two starts. The chestnut colt romped in his second start on the Woodbine turf Aug. 1, then returned less than three weeks later to score by a length in an allowance contest going one mile. Gregory de Gannes has assigned Emile Ramsammy to ride.
De Gannes will also send out Midway Train, a sharp first out winner on Aug. 29 going seven furlongs on the turf.
Pletcher will have two chances in the Natalma, a race he won in 1998 with Pico Teneriffe. Street Chimes, by Street Cry, won her Aug. 22 debut on the sloppy Saratoga main track. More Than Real also won at first asking Aug. 14 at Saratoga, but she did it going 1 1/16 miles on the turf while racing for Chad Brown.
The probable favorite for the Natalma is Eugene Melnyk’s Roxy Gap, who is undefeated in three starts—all at Woodbine. The Indian Charlie filly broke her maiden by more than six lengths in July on Polytrack, came back to handily win the July 18 Shady Well Stakes, another sprint on the main track, and last out won an allowance race by 4 3/4 lengths going one mile on the turf.
Mark Casse, a two-time winner of the race, will give a leg up to Patrick Husbands.
$250,000 Summer Stakes (Can-IIIT, Race 4, 2:26 p.m.), 2YO, 1 Mile (Turf) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1 Rockin Heat (KY), E R Da Silva, 122, R Baker
2 Silverleo (KY), E Ramsammy, 122, G de Gannes
3 Midway Train (KY), V Espinoza, 122, G de Gannes
4 Pluck (KY), G K Gomez, 122, T A Pletcher
5 Stormy Rush (KY), J C Jones, 122, R L Attfield
6 Breaking Ball (KY), P Husbands, 122, M E Casse
7 Ronin Dax (KY), P A Valenzuela, 122, R Troeger
8 Forum (KY), J Castellano, 122, G Weaver
$200,000 Natalma Stakes (Can-III, Race 8, 4:38 p.m.), 2YO Fillies, 1 Mile (Turf) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Roxy Gap (ON), P Husbands, 119, M E Casse
2. Street Chimes (VA), D Cohen, 119, T A Pletcher
3. Dos Lunas (KY), R Maragh, 119, J Glenney
4. Sheba's Secret (KY), C Sutherland, 119, R L Attfield
5. New Normal (KY), J Castellano, 119, M R Frostad
6. Pulling for Dixie (KY), R A Dos Ramos, 119, B A Lynch
7. More Than Real (KY), G K Gomez, 119, T A Pletcher
8. The Platinum Angel (KY), J Stein, 119, M J Doyle
9. Molinaro Social (ON), S R Bahen, 119, R Armata