(Edited press release)
For the first time, the winner of the Alfred G. Vanderbilt (gr. II) will be guaranteed a spot in the TVG Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I) as a part of the new Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” series.
But with a wide-open field where six of the eight participants are coming off wins of their own, the ticket to Monmouth Park will not come easy at Saratoga July 28.
The 23rd running of the Vanderbilt is for 3-year-olds and up and will be run at six furlongs. The race will be one of four graded events in an 11-race card, and the stakes races will be televised live by ABC, beginning at 4 p.m.
Cougar Cat and Commentator are the only two entrants that were not victorious in their last start. Cougar Cat, however, took second in the Iowa Sprint Handicap last time out at Prairie Meadows, beaten 1 1/2 lengths by Benny the Bull, who is also in the Vanderbilt field.
Commentator is coming off a third-place effort in the July 4 Tom Fool Breeders’ Cup Handicap (gr. II) at Belmont Park. The 6-year-old gelding by Distorted Humor ’s only other start in 2007 was an 11 1/2-length romp in the Richmond Runner Stakes at Belmont May 28.
Commentator, who will be ridden by Corey Nakatani, won the 2005 Whitney Handicap (gr. I) at Saratoga and has three wins in four tries over this course.
Of the six horses coming off a win, three--Attila’s Storm, Diabolical, and Saint Anddan--captured a graded event their last time out.
Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel will send out Saint Anddan, who won the May 5 Churchill Downs Stakes (gr. II) by two lengths in his last race.
“He ran good that day,” said Frankel. “It was a little surprising that he won so easy, but it was a good effort.”
The 5-year-old son of A.P. Indy has not raced in nearly three months but has shown a steady list of workouts and will break from the rail.
“He hasn’t been out in a while, but hopefully, he puts it together this race,” said Frankel. “He’s done well off a layoff before, so we’ll see how he runs.”
Saint Anddan, who will be ridden by Rafael Bejarano, has won three of his last four starts, including the D.F. Kenner at Fair Grounds March 24.
Another challenger will be Steve Klesaris’ Diabolical, who captured the Maryland Sprint Handicap (gr. III) as the favorite at Pimlico May 19.
Diabolical, who will be ridden by Mario Pino, has hit the board in his last five races, the last four being graded stakes.
Diabolical, also coming off a layoff, fired a bullet workout on July 14 going four furlongs in :48 1/5. The Vanderbilt distance also bodes well for the colt, who has had two wins and three seconds in his five starts at six furlongs.
Attila’s Storm, trained by Richard Schosberg, posted his last score in the March 10 Toboggan Handicap (gr. III) at Aqueduct.
Attila’s Storm, who will be ridden by John Velazquez, is no stranger to graded stakes company. The son of Forest Wildcathas placed in three other graded contests, including a second in the 2005 Malibu Stakes (gr. I) at Santa Anita.
Attila’s Storm, who will break from post 3, has not run in almost five months, but Schosberg isn’t worried.
“Usually, his first race back is pretty good,” Schosberg said. “He finished third in the Vosburgh Stakes (gr. I) last year after a pretty long layoff and was third to Henny Hughes after pressing the pace with him. My feeling is he is ready to go. He is up here, and he is sharp.”
Rounding out the field are other recent winners Abraaj and Simon Pure.
Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (gr. II), $250,000, July 28, 3-year-olds and up, six furlongs, approx. post 4:43 p.m. EST
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Saint Anddan, 120, Rafael Bejarano
2. Cougar Cat, 116, Robby Albarado
3. Attila's Storm, 117, John Velazquez
4. Commentator, 119, Corey S. Nakatani
5. Diabolical, 120, Mario Pino
6. Abraaj, 114, Alan Garcia
7. Benny the Bull, 115, Edgar S. Prado
8. Simon Pure, 114, Garrett Gomez