Volponi and Medaglia d'Oro, the top two finishers in last year's Breeders' Cup Classic (gr.I) are the obvious standouts in what could be a four-horse field. Proud Citizen and Saarland are the other two horses considered definite starters. Entries will be taken and post positions drawn on Thursday.
Lukas said Wednesday that Proud Citizen, who was second in the Kentucky Derby (gr.I) and third in the Preakness (gr.I) last year, has to be considered a contender. The Whitney will be his fifth start this year since since recovering from a fractured cannon bone, an injury he suffered while running fifth in the Belmont Stakes (gr.I).
In his last start, Proud Citizen easily won an allowance race at Churchill Downs. His time for 1:28 1/5 for the 7 1/2 furlongs was a fifth of a second off the track record.
"He's doing very well," Lukas said. "I think I've got him pretty much where I can get something done.
"You've got to remember, this was one of the best 3-year-olds in the country last year. Before the injury in the Belmont, this horse was as good as any of them."
Proud Citizen was give extra time to recuperate and didn't make his first start of this season until May 3 in the Churchill Downs Handicap (gr.II), where he finished ninth, beaten by more than seven lengths. He was fourth in the Met Mile (gr.I) and a well-beaten eighth in the Stephen Foster (gr.I) prior to the allowance victory.
"You're talking about a horse with a lot of talent," Lukas said. "I think I've got him as good as I've ever had him right now. Whether I can pull this off, I don't know. I'm not trying to sell him to anybody, but he's damn sure OK. This is not just your average horse. I'm not just throwing him in there like, `It's a short field, we'll try this.' This horse is very, very, very worthy."Scrimshaw Tries Sprinting
Lukas will also saddle Scrimshaw in the six-furlong Amsterdam (gr.II). It will be the first start for the colt since he ran last of six in the Belmont Stakes. Like Proud Citizen did last year, Scrimshaw won the Lexington (gr.II) at Keeneland before running in all three of the Triple Crown races. Lukas said the son of Gulch needed a long break after four races in seven weeks.
"Where normally I'd give them a couple of weeks, I gave him 28 or 29 days off," Lukas said. "So, therefore, I'm not ready to go two turns with him, so I thought I'd try it. I've had good luck before shortening up, so we'll try it."
Lukas said the Travers (gr.I) isn't necessarily the goal for Scrimshaw, who might be turned into a sprinter if he runs well in the Amsterdam.
"I did that with Orientate real successfully and I did it with Grand Slam real successfully," Lukas said. "We'll see what happens."
Stand On Top, the Real Spa Horse, Wins
Believe it or not, in the local connections category at Saratoga Race Course, Stand on Top has an edge on Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Funny Cide.
Not only was Stand on Top born in a Saratoga Springs, the 2-year-old filly is owned by John Jayko of Saratoga Springs and trained by another native of the city, Teresa Pompay.
In her career debut in the second race Wednesday, Stand on Top, pressed the early pace and withstood a duel in the stretch with betting favorite Star Celebrity to win the six-furlong race by a half-length. She paid $10.20.
Funny Cide was foaled in Saratoga Springs and was sold at auction at the Fasig-Tipton Preferred Sale in 2001. The Saratoga Springs-based Sackatoga Stable later purchased him. He has not raced at Saratoga Race Course, but is being pointed for the Travers (gr.I) on Aug. 23.
Pompay, who is based at Monmouth Park during the summer, sent the filly to Saratoga Tuesday morning.
"She's really professional," Pompay said. "With shipping and everything, she just ran really, really professional.
"It's great, coming here and winning because these are local people. Their great-grandparents are from here. So are my great-grandparents. We've been friends for a long time, so it's kind of good to put everything together."
Stand on Top was Pompay's second winner from a handful of starters at the track. Her other winner at Saratoga was Someplace Fast, owned by her father, John.
"I've had a couple of seconds," she said. "I don't like to come unless I really think I have a good shot, when I think the horse is ready. It doesn't always work out, but I have all my family, all my friends, their friends here so you don't want to look bad."
Jayko, a former trainer who now operates a landscaping business in Saratoga Springs, still operates Fedwell Farms, the home of Stand on Top's dam, Stand From Under.
During his training career, Jayko said he won two races at Saratoga. Stand on Top is his first Saratoga owner as an owner.Around the Spa
One bettor, using New York City Off-Track Betting Corp., had the only winning ticket for Wednesday's Pick 6, which paid $198,544. There was a carryover of $44,000 carryover from Monday's program.
The superfecta in the ninth race paid $26,975.
Hockey Hall of Fame members Bobby Hull and Marcel Dionne are scheduled to take part in the track's NHL Day activities Saturday. Also expected to attend are Adam Oates of the Anaheim Mighy Ducks and the Hanson Brothers from the movie "Slap Shot."