Trainer Todd Pletcher has a host of Saratoga stakes wins to his credit and hopes to add one more to the list when he saddles Vicarage in Sunday's $150,000 Amsterdam Stakes (gr. II), going six furlongs.
An easy winner of Belmont Park's six-furlong Smoke Glacken
last month, Vicarage will be looking for his first stakes win at Saratoga and his third on the year.
A son of Vicar
, Vicarage began the year with a convincing win in a Gulfstream Park allowance race and hit the Triple Crown trail. His ride was short-lived. Following a second in the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) and sixth-place effort in the Florida Derby (gr. I), he finished a distant third in the Derby Trial.
The post Triple Crown days have seen Vicarage finish seventh to Woke Up Dreamin and a tough group of older horses in the True North Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) and win the Smoke Glacken by 4 1/4 lengths.
"He arguably ran his best race in the Smoke Glacken," said Pletcher, who conditions Vicarage for Dogwood Stables. "This is what we've been trying to do, back him up to sprints, getting him to relax and come with a run late. I think six and seven furlongs are his best distances."
Vicarage drew post nine and will be ridden by John Velazquez.
Giving Vicarage a run for his money will be the Richard Dutrow-trained Silver Train.
A son of Old Trieste, Silver Train enters the Amsterdam off a big 6 3/4-length entry-level allowance win at Belmont July 2. The winning margin was impressive enough, but his final time of 1:07 3/5 was fast enough to equal the time established by champion Artax
"We've got him right," Dutrow said. "He was screwed up behind. We did some work behind, and it's paying off. Saying that, I don't think any of us were expecting him to run like that. He surprised all of us."
Silver Train ran a couple of times at Saratoga last summer and was pretty good, earning a seven-length win and a second versus maidens.
Jockey Edgar Prado, a two-time Amsterdam winner, gets the call on Silver Train.
Another runner not to be overlooked is Nick Zito's Middle Earth. The son of Dixieland Band
is two for four under Zito, winning his maiden and a Keeneland allowance. He ran well in the Riva Ridge (gr. II) on the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) undercard, finishing third to Lost in the Fog and the late Egg Head.
Most recently, Middle Earth finished a well-beaten fifth in the Dwyer (gr. II).
Zito will give a leg up to jockey Ramon Dominguez. The pair will break from post five.
The field for Sunday's $150,000 Amsterdam (gr. II) includes:
1-- Storm Surge (Robby Albarado, 123)
2-- Going Wild (Cornelio Velasquez, 121)
3-- Gamblers Slew (Jorge Chavez, 121)
4-- Maddy's Lion (Fernando Jara, 115)
5-- Middle Earth (Ramon Dominguez, 115)
6-- Social Probation (Calvin Borel, 115)
7-- Santana Strings (Eibar Coa, 121)
8-- Silver Train (Edgar Prado, 115)
9-- Vicarage (John Velazquez, 121)