Nine colts and geldings have been entered in what should be a wide-open 93rd running of the $150,000 Sanford Stakes (gr. II) for 2-year-olds at Saratoga July 26. Six of the entrants will be making their second start, five of whom won their debut. Two entrants have raced twice, while one has raced three times.
The most experienced entrant is Ready’s Image, the only stakes winner in the field. Ready’s Image dominated in the Tremont Stakes at Belmont in his last start. In the Tremont, Ready’s Image flashed strong speed to win by 7 3/4 lengths under Johnny Velazquez’s hand-ride.
Ready’s Image’s sire, More Than Ready , won both the Tremont and the Sanford in 1999. Thirteen months later, More Than Ready became a grade I winner when he captured the 2000 King’s Bishop Stakes, also at Saratoga. Todd Pletcher trains both horses for owner James Scatuorchio.
Pletcher and Scatuorchio are hoping to enjoy repeat success in the Sanford, which they won last year with Scat Daddy, who won this year’s Florida Derby (gr. I). Pletcher also won the Sanford in 2003 with Chapel Royal and has been the leading trainer at Saratoga for the past five years.
The Roundhouse, a son of Fusaichi Pegasus , was impressive in his debut, where he displayed a strong rally to win a maiden special weight at Monmouth Park. The expected fast pace of the Sanford should be of benefit to The Roundhouse.
That pace might be set by Fed Watcher, another second-time starter. In his debut, Fed Watcher (by Songandaprayer) shot straight to the lead and set fractions of :22 and :44 and stopped the clock in :56 to win by 1 1/2 lengths in a five-furlong maiden special weight at Belmont Park June 30.
Fed Watcher might be challenged on the front end by Tale of Ekati, who drew the rail position. Tale of Ekati enters the Sanford off an 8 1/2 length score in his first start, a maiden special weight at Belmont July 7. The son of Tale of the Cat was challenged early in that race and dueled through fractions of :22 1/5 and :44 4/5 before he drew off to win by 8 1/4 lengths.
Like The Roundhouse, Sok Sok will make his second career start in the Sanford after coming from off the pace to win in his debut. Sok Sok, by Trippi, raced 4 1/4 lengths behind the leader at the first call after he was bumped at the start in that race, a maiden special weight at Churchill Downs June 16. The Steve Asmussen trainee overcame that trouble to win by three lengths.
Little Nick is expected to contribute to the early pace, while Ascot Hall will attempt to win the Sanford from far back. Twenty Eight Hours, third to Ready’s Image in the Tremont, will try to turn the tables. Shotten Heimer, the lone maiden among the Sanford entries, is cross-entered in a maiden special weight on Saratoga’s opening day (July 25).
Post time is scheduled for 4:48 p.m. EST.
The field, with post positions, weights, and jockeys:
1. Tale of Ekati, 119, Cornelio Velasquez
2. Sok Sok, 119, Shaun Bridgmohan
3. Little Nick, 119, Dale Romans
4. Ascot Hall, 119, Julien Leparoux
5. Shotten Heimer, 117, Ramon Dominguez
6. The Roundhouse, 119, Garret Gomez
7. Fed Watcher, 119, Eibar Coa
8. Twenty Eight Hours, 119, Edgar Prado
9. Ready’s Image, 121, John Velazquez