Sanford Test for Scat Daddy

Edited release from the New York Racing Association

After being a Thoroughbred trainer for 10 years, Todd Pletcher should be used to the racing spotlight. This is especially true at Saratoga Race Course, where he has been the leading trainer for the past four years and also holds the single-season win record.

On Thursday, Pletcher will once again be unable avoid the spotlight at the Spa.

Not only will Pletcher have the likely favorite, James Scatuorchio's Scat Daddy, for the 92nd running of the $150,000 Sanford Stakes (gr. II) for 2-year-olds at six furlongs, he will be featured in Saratoga's first giveaway of the season.

All paid admissions will receive a Todd Pletcher bobblehead doll while supplies last.

"It's going to be interesting to see how this day goes," Pletcher said. "I was reluctant at first to do it, but I decided to go along with it. The doll came out really nice. It does look like me."

The Sanford, which returns to the Spa schedule to set up the traditional three-stakes race series for 2-year-olds at Saratoga. The other races in the series are the grade II, $200,000 Saratoga Special Breeders' Cup at 6 ½ furlongs Aug. 17th and the grade I, $250,000 Hopeful at seven furlongs on Closing Day, Sept.4.

Pletcher had seven horses nominated for the Sanford: grade III Bashford Manner winner Circular Quay, Tremont winner Out of Gwedda, Scat Daddy, Air Lord, Bella Shambrock, Daytona, and Soaring By. Pletcher decided to give Scat Daddy a test -- coming off a maiden win into a stakes race.

Scatuorchio, Pletcher, and Velazquez had previous success in the Sanford. In 1999, More Than Ready won the Sanford before winning the grade I King's Bishop as a 3-year-old the following year. Pletcher and Velazquez are also seeking their third Sanford victory as a team after winning the race in 2003, the same year Pletcher established a Saratoga training record of 35 victories, which surpassed Bill Mott's 22 victories in 2001, with Chapel Royal.

Even before Scat Daddy made his debut, there was much hype surrounding the colt. First, the colt's debut, which was originally scheduled for June 3 at Monmouth Park, was suppose to mark the return of two-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey John Velazquez.

Velazquez suffered a cracked right-shoulder blade and bruised ribs as a result of Up an Octave collapsing and rolling over him just after the finish of the Forerunner Stakes at Keeneland April 30. After the accident, doctors told Velazquez he would be sidelined for at least five months.

Second, Scat Daddy showed a lot of potential during morning workouts for Pletcher. Just a week before his debut, Scat Daddy posted a five-furlong "bullet" workout, which went in :58 4/5.

Third, Scat Daddy's pedigree suggests a possible stakes future. His sire, Johannesburg, was unbeaten in his 2-year-old career, which was highlighted by the 2001 Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) victory at Belmont Park. His dam, Love Style, was unraced; however, Love Style was sired by Mr. Prospector and comes out of Likeable Style, who won the 1993 grade I Las Virgenes Stakes and was a multiple grade III winner.

Instead of having Scat Daddy run in a maiden race at Monmouth Park, Pletcher called an audible and brought the colt to Belmont Park where he dominated for a 5¼-length victory over a muddy track. Pletcher was more impressed with the performance because Scat Daddy was forced to go with an atypical running style.

"Challenging Scat Daddy is Ronald Winchell's War Wolf, who is also coming off a maiden victory. Shaun Bridgmohan will ride War Wolf again after the son of Tale of the Cat   won by 4¾ lengths in his second start at Churchill Downs.

Trainer Jamie Sanders will give Teufelsberg another shot against winners. In four starts, the son of Johannesburg has yet to graduate from the maiden ranks. Against Circular Quay in the Bashford Mannor at Churchill Downs, Teufelsberg set the early pace before tiring in the last eighth of a mile to finish fourth.

Owned by Debra Wycoff and trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, Trip to the Bank enters the Sanford as also a non-winner; however, in two career starts, Trip to the Bank, who was also entered in Wednesday's fifth race at Saratoga, was second to Scat Daddy and Out of Gwedda.

Bagger Vance, co-owned and trained by Jeffrey Minton, was a non-threatening sixth over the Belmont turf course in his debut.

The field for Thursday's Sanford Stakes includes:
1--Bagger Vance ( Jose Santos, 117)
2--Teuflesberg (Rafael Bejarano, 117)
3--War Wolf (Shaun Bridgmohan, 119)
4--Scat Daddy (John Velazquez , 119)
5--Trip to the Bank (Eibar Coa, 117)

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