America America will do something rarely seen at Saratoga Race Course Friday: ship in from Europe to run in a graded stake, in this case, the Spinaway (gr. I).
Owned and trained by Franck Mourier, a native of France who lives in Florida in the winter, America America began her career in April at Gulfstream Park. Racing against colts, she won a three-furlong maiden race and finished second by a head in an ungraded stake.
Mourier and his wife, Capucine, took the daughter of Mister Baileys, who they purchased for $5,000 at Fasig-Tipton October, to Europe for races at seven different tracks, including the Royal Ascot meet.
"We wanted to have the first American-trained horse to win a 2-year-old race in England," Mourier, 34, said Thursday.
America America came close. After running eighth in the Queen Mary Stakes (Eng-III) at Royal Ascot, she was fifth, beaten 3 1/2 lengths in the Empress Stakes at Newmarket. America America missed by a head in a race against males in Hamburg, then had three seconds and a third in races in England. Four of her races in Europe were against males.
"She was unlucky a few times," Mourier said.
Mourier said he isn't worried about America America having any trouble making the transition back to a dirt surface.
"She's a very good-moving filly. That won't be a problem," Mourier said. "What we're more concerned about is the configuration of the race and how it will develop."
Mourier said he trained in France and that he and his wife are in the pinhooking business.
"We have no sponsors, no owners," he said. "We're buying and reselling horses in training. We didn't have the money to go into racing with them."Sackatoga Takes Shot with Saratoga Episode
The 10-man Sackatoga Stable didn't make it to the Travers with Funny Cide, but it will have a grade I runner Saturday when Saratoga Episode goes to the gate for the Hopeful (gr.I).
Managing partner Jack Knowlton said Thursday that trainer Barclay Tagg reversed his plans a second time and entered the New York-bred maiden winner in the seven-furlong race.
Tagg nominated the Wheaton colt after he broke his maiden on Aug. 14, giving Sackatoga its first Saratoga winner, then said he had decided to keep Saratoga Episode with New York-bred company. Saratoga Episode, purchased earlier in the year for $60,000, was second in his debut on July 25.
Knowlton said he was surprised when Tagg asked him Thursday morning whether Sackatoga would spend the $1,000 to enter the horse later in the day. The Hopeful drew a field of nine, led by Sanford (gr. II) winner Chapel Royal and Birdstone, a half-brother to graded-stakes winner Bird Town.
Knowlton said his group would do whatever Tagg recommended.
"I just think he feels that he's doing well," Knowlton said. "He's probably going to look at the race and look at the Beyers and wonder what he is doing in there, maybe.
"As you know, Barclay is a pretty conservative trainer. He's got to see something that he likes to put him in."
Tagg did not want to discuss his decision, saying only that the colt finished second in his first race and won his second race.
"Go talk to the owners," he said, "they're the ones who like to talk."
By that point, Knowlton spoke about his conversation with Tagg.
"He just likes the way he's doing and to see who shows up in the race," Knowlton said. "He'll blow out tomorrow morning and see how he does.
"One of the things is they think he'll go seven. You don't always know with these 2-year-olds whether they're ready to go. Look at him. He's a good-sized horse."
Knowlton laughed about the unexpected switch that will give him and his partners a starter in the Hopeful.
"It's pretty unbelieveable," Knowlton said. "I still haven't totally absorbed it yet, I don't think."Sellers Off Mounts After Horse Flips
Jockey Shane Sellers took off his final four mounts on Thursday after being hurt when his horse flipped prior to the first race.
Sellers suffered a bruised tailbone when he fell from Out of Sort's, a New York-bred trained by Gary Contessa. The 3-year-old filly reared and toppled over while waiting to be loaded into the starting gate.
The jockey was able to vault away from the horse's path before it landed on him, escaping serious injury. Out of Sort's was scratched.
Contessa's No Bad Habits was also scratched at the gate prior to the second race.Serpe Sparkles
Phil Serpe's outstanding meet continued on Thursday, when Over The Transom captured the opener, a six-furlong sprint for New York-bred fillies.
It was Serpe's eighth victory of the meet, tying him with Steve Asmussen for fourth in the trainer standings. It also snapped his 0-for-33 streak with first-time starters.
Sent off at 9-1, Over The Transom returned $20.20. She is a daughter of Allen's Prospect from the At the Threshold mare Through the Door.
Ms. Will a Way, a daughter of 1996 Travers winner Will's Way, was a closing second, keying a $180.50 exacta.Hidden Truth May Miss Saranac
Trainer Neil Howard said Thursday that Hidden Truth is questionable to run in the Saranac (gr. III) for 3-year-olds on closing day, Sept. 1.
The Danzig colt needed throat surgery to repair a displaced palate after running ninth of 11, beaten 11 3/4 lengths, in the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame (gr. II) on Aug. 4.
"He's not the best horse in the world, but he's better than that," Howard said.
After running eighth in his debut in February, Hidden Truth had been either first or second in five of six starts until the Hall of Fame race, including the Lexington (gr. III) July 13.
"We thought maybe something wasn't right, and it turned out it wasn't," Howard said. "I'm not sure yet what we're going to do. We might give him a chance in an allowance race to bounce back from that."
Howard said Hidden Truth has worked twice since the surgery, including Thursday's half-mile breeze in :49 1/5.
"He's doing great, very well," he said. "We're just up in the air."