Lunarpal, 10 Others Set to Tangle in the Sanford

By Pete Spanos

A group of 11 2-year-olds has been entered for the 91st running of the Sanford Stakes (gr. II) on Thursday at Saratoga's famed Race Course. Known for its annual showcasing of quality youngsters, the Spa's second day of racing has a crack line-up of 2-year-old colts going six furlongs in the Sanford, headed by multiple stakes winner Lunarpal.

The son of first-year-sire Successful Appeal , Lunarpal has notched four wins in as many attempts--beginning with a seven-length maiden win at Keeneland in April--followed by the first sweep of the major Churchill Downs 2-year-old stakes since Favorite Trick's hat trick of 1997.

Lunarpal captured the May 1 Three Chimneys Juvenile Stakes, the June 5 Kentucky Breeder's Cup (gr. III), and most recently the July 5 Bashford Manor (gr. III) on a sloppy Churchill surface. He retains the services of rider Shane Sellers -- aboard in all four wins-- and will break from the two-hole.

Sent out by trainer Steve Asmussen for owner and breeder Bill Heiligbrodt, the Florida-bred Lunarpal has been out front early in all of his starts and figures to be the one to catch heading for home.

Lunarpal will square off against the Todd Pletcher-trained Flamenco --
himself a perfect two for two -- including an impressive score in the five-furlong Victoria Stakes at Woodbine on June 26. Pletcher--who won a dozen 2-year-old races at the Spa last season--appears to have another talented group of young colts and fillies in his barn for this year's meet with Flamenco being one of his finest.

Flamenco was bred in Florida by Amanda Moloney and Richard and Linda Thompson, and is owned by John Fort's Peachtree Stables. The son of first-year sire Dance Master has also shown good early speed in both of his races. He broke his maiden by three lengths at Belmont on May 28 and stretches out to the six-furlong distance for the first time. Jerry Bailey climbs back aboard and will start his mount from post three.

Tremont Stakes (Belmont, June 26) winner Gold Joy, trained by Timothy Salzman and ridden by Mike Luzzi will head out for owners Kenneth Taylor and John Salzman, Sr. Bred in Florida by Chasemedaly Farm, Gold Joy is the son of Joyeux Dancerand will challenge from post six.

The Sanford first became famous in 1919 when long shot Upset toppled the heavily-chalked Man o' War--Big Red becoming one of the track's first tombstone etchings in its now infamous "graveyard of favorites." Those hoping to make some history of their own are Tremont runner-up Winning Expression, ridden by Edgar Prado, and the John Velasquez-ridden Smokescreen.

Sanford Stakes (gr. II), 2-year-olds, 6 Furlongs, $150,000, Thursday, July 29 -- Approx. Post Time 4:48 PM EDT

PP -- Horse, Weight, Jockey

1 -- Departing Now, 120, Frank Lavato
2 -- Lunarpal, 122, Shane Sellers
3 -- Flamenco, 122, Jerry Bailey
4 -- Smokescreen, 118, John Velasquez
5 -- Calypso Band, 118, Pablo Fragoso
6 -- Gold Joy, 122, Mike Luzzi
7 -- Fire Path, 118, Javier Castellano
8 -- Afleet Alex, 120, Jeremy Rose
9 -- Consolidator, 118, Pat Day
10 -- Maximus C, 118, Robby Albarado
11 -- Winning Expression, 118, Edgar Prado