Seven are entered in the 6 1/2-furlong event. With quite a bit of speed in the lineup, the Zayat Stables' colt by former juvenile champion Johannesburg could be sitting in an ideal spot, believes trainer Dale Romans.
“I’m not worried about it,” he said of the likely pace duel. “He can rate and sit right off of horses. He proved that in his last race at Churchill. He can go to the lead or stalk -- whatever he needs to do.”
Jockey Kent Desormeaux will get a leg up from Romans.
Desert Key comes into the Amsterdam after winning a first-level allowance race on the Belmont Stakes undercard by five lengths, leading all the way under jockey Edgar Prado and stopping the timer in a speedy 1:08 4/5 for six furlongs.
Like Romans, trainer Jimmy Jerkens doesn't think his son of E Dubai out of the Storm Cat mare, Storm Key, will mind conceding the lead, if necessary.
“He’s run good sitting off the pace,” Jerkens said. “I don’t think it will be a problem. He’s not terribly hard to rate. He’s hard to rate to a certain speed, but if there’s good speed in there, he can sit just off of them.”
Owned by Centennial Farms, Desert Key will be making just his fifth start in the Amsterdam.
Desert Key had his final workout for the Amsterdam on July 25 on Saratoga’s muddy main track. He covered three furlongs in a lightning :33.81, more than two full seconds faster than the next horse who worked the same distance.
“It was a little faster than I wanted but it was okay,” said Jerkens.
Bobby Frankel sends out another lightly raced speedster in Stronach Stables’ Fidelio. By Awesome Again, Fidelio has a record of three wins and a second from five career starts. He ran second behind last year’s champion juvenile colt War Pass here at Saratoga and tallied a 4 1/2-length win last out at Belmont in a seven-furlong optional claimer.
Kodiak Kowboy returns to the site of his off-the-pace win in the Saratoga Special (gr. II) last year, but this time he will be running for a different trainer. He was transferred to Larry Jones after previous trainer Steve Asmussen and Vinery Stables parted ways. The Saratoga Special was the final win in a five-race streak for Kodiak Cowboy in 2007.
Since then he has one win in five tries, including a runner-up finish in the Futurity (gr. II) and a third-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I). In his most recent start, Kodiak Kowboy was second to Preakness (gr. I) runner-up Macho Again in the Derby Trial Stakes at Churchill Downs on April 26.
$150,000 Amsterdam Stakes (gr. II, Race 9, 5:30 p.m.), 3-Year-Olds, 6 1/2 Furlongs
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Excess Capital (KY), 115, Javier Castellano
2. Devereux (FL), 121, Shaun Bridgmohan
3. Desert Key (KY), 115, Edgar S. Prado
4. Silver Edition (KY), 115, Julien R. Leparoux
5. Kodiak Kowboy (KY), 119, Gabriel Saez
6. Fidelio (KY), 117, John R. Velazquez
7. Eaton's Gift (KY), 123, Kent J. Desormeaux