GoldMark Farm’s undefeated Backtalk will try to remain perfect in four lifetime starts, but will have to overcome post 13 when he meets a dozen rivals in the $300,000 Three Chimneys Hopeful Stakes (gr. I), Saratoga’s final major race for 2-year-olds on Labor Day.
Backtalk, a son of Smarty Jones, came from off the pace to capture Saratoga’s July 30 Sanford (gr. II) by a neck in his most recent outing. In his first two starts, both at Churchill Downs, he broke his maiden and won the Bashford Manor (gr. III). Trainer Tom Amoss took the chestnut colt back to Churchill to train for the seven-furlong Hopeful. He turned in his final breeze Aug. 30, going six furlong is 1:15.40.
In his first three starts, Backtalk was ridden by Miguel Mena. But Mena was arrested on drunken driving charges Sept. 1 and stewards have ruled him ineligible to ride in New York. In light of those developments, Amoss named Richard Migliore as Backtalk’s rider for the Hopeful.
Backtalk was bred in Florida by Clover Leaf Farms II and is out of the Affirmed mare Apasionata Sonata. He was a $250,000 purchase at the Keeneland 2008 September yearling sale.
“The seven-eighths (of a mile) is a benefit to him,” Amoss said of the Hopeful distance, “but not where he wants to be. You won’t see the best of Backtalk until he goes two turns. We’re coming up to this race great; things are coming up well. This is a big mature horse.”
The colt Backtalk edged out in the Sanford, Enumerate, is also back for the Hopeful. A homebred for Padua Stables and trained by Steve Asmussen, Enumerate had a troubled trip in the Sanford, as he had to be steadied near the three-sixteenths pole by Edgar Prado before making his late charge. The Sanford was the stakes debut for the son of Proud Accolade, who broke his maiden by five lengths June 28 at Churchill.
Enumerate drew post 8 and will be guided by Prado once again.
“Enumerate had a bit of a rough trip," Asmussen's assistant Scott Blasi said. "He’s improving. (The Sanford) was just the second start of his life.”
Asmussen has two others entered, including J. Kirk Robinson’s Grand Slam Andre. The chestnut son of Grand Slam has won three of five starts this season, including his last two in stakes company, one at Lone Star Park and the other at Remington Park. Grand Slam Andre finished fourth in the Bashford Manor, beaten 3 1/2 lengths. Jesus Castanon will be in the irons.
Robert Gentry’s Prince Rooney, the 9-2 morning-line favorite, is Asmussen’s third hope. The son of Tale of the Cat won by a whopping 15 lengths Aug. 1 in the Mountaineer Juvenile Stakes to stay unbeaten in two starts. Shaun Bridgmohan rides.
Todd Pletcher will also have a pair of chances, sending out impressive maiden winners One Note Samba and Aikenite. Anstu Stables’ One Note Samba, a New York bred son of Grand Reward, broke his maiden by 7 3/4 lengths Aug. 16 at the Spa, going gate-to-wire under John Velazquez. Dogwood Stable’s Aikenite, by Yes It's True, won in his debut Aug. 9 at Saratoga, also under Velazquez. In the Hopeful, Jose Lezcano will ride One Note Samba and Calvin Borel has the call on Aikenite.
Trainer and co-owner Merrill Scherer will send out Flatter Than Me, who was beaten just a length by Backtalk in the Bashford Manor, but was well back in a sixth-place finish in the Aug. 20 Saratoga Special (gr. II).
"He was so disappointing last time I could have thrown up,” Scherer said. “But you can’t quit on one race. I assumed I gave (jockey Robby Albarado) the wrong instructions when that dirt hit him in the face and he started turning left and right. He has plenty of speed. I should have kept him on the pace. I like the horse. He’s a grand looking horse."
Also on the Sept. 7 card is the $100,000 Glen Falls Handicap (gr. IIIT) for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up. A field of 10 and two also eligibles were entered for the 11-furlong turf race.
Carrying top weight of 123 pounds will be Christophe Clement trainee Winter View, winner of a pair of grade III events this season. Winter View, a 5-year-old daughter of Thunder Gulch, won the Bewitch in April at Keeneland and All Along Stakes at Colonial Downs in June. Last out, he was sixth, but beaten only 1 1/2 lengths in the Robert Dick Memorial Handicap (gr. IIIT) July 18 at Delaware Park. Julien Leparoux, aboard for the two stakes triumphs, has the call once again.
The winner of the Dick Memorial also returns in the Glen Falls, 6-year-old Caprice. The German-bred Monsun mare turned the tables on Winter View in that race after finsihing fourth to her in the Bewitch. It was her first graded stakes score. Edgar Prado rides for Graham Motion.
$300,000 Hopeful (gr. I, Race 10, 5:56 p.m.), 2YO, 7 Furlongs (Dirt) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Westover Wildcat (KY), R A Dominguez, 120, A W Dutrow
2. One Note Samba (NY), J Lezcano, 120, T A Pletcher
3. Aspire (KY), J R Leparoux, 120, E Kenneally
4. Grand Slam Andre (KY), J L Castanon, 120, S M Asmussen
5. Aikenite (FL), C H Borel, 120, T A Pletcher
6. Overlap (KY), J Castellano, 120, B Tagg
7. Not Macho Any More (FL), K J Desormeaux, 120, R A Violette, Jr.
8. Enumerate (FL), E S Prado, 120, S M Asmussen
9. Liston (KY), R Maragh, 120, K P McLaughlin
10. Prince Rooney (KY), S Bridgmohan, 120, S M Asmussen
11. Flatter Than Me (KY), J F Chavez, 120, M R Scherer
12. Dublin (KY), J Theriot, 120, D W Lukas
13. Backtalk (FL), R Migliore, 120, T M Amoss
$100,000 Glen Falls Handicap (gr. IIIT, Race 9, 5:22 p.m.), Fillies and Mares 3YO and Up, 1 3/8 Miles (Turf) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer 1. Queen of Hearts (KY), J L Espinoza, 116, J A Jerkens
2. Astrologie (FR), R A Dominguez, 116, C Clement
3. Mushka (KY), K J Desormeaux, 116, W I Mott
4. Bubbly Jane (BRZ), R Maragh, 118, P H Lobo
5. Caprice (GER), E S Prado, 120, H G Motion
6. Winter View (KY), J R Leparoux, 123, J E Sheppard
7. Tejida (KY), C S Nakatani, 116, M R Matz
8. Avie's Tale (KY), J Lezcano, 116, C Clement
9. Communique (KY), R Migliore, 116, G R Arnold, II
10. Lemonette (KY), C H Borel, 116, E R Reed
11. Zaskar (GB), J Castellano, 116, J P Terranova, II
12. Shake the Moon (GER), S Bridgmohan, 116, C Clement