German-bred Sanagas, the 2-1 morning-line favorite, goes for his first graded stakes win when facing six other turf males in the $150,000 Bowling Green Handicap (gr. IIT) on opening-day of the Belmont Park fall meet Sept. 10.
The 5-year-old Lomitas gelding came from far back to win the 1 5/8-mile John’s Call at Saratoga on Aug. 5, his second start in the United States. Winner of four of his five starts in Germany, Sanagas finished seventh in the Arlington Handicap (gr. IIIT) in his American debut on July 9, his lone off-the-board effort in seven lifetime starts.
“It seems to be a logical progression from an overnight stakes to a graded stakes without getting too carried away,” said trainer Graham Motion, who trains Sanagas for Andreas Jacobs. “He’s had one nice work on the grass since the John’s Call. He’s a horse with a lot of potential, but he’s a quirky horse to ride. In first race, he lugged in through the stretch and we put an extension blinker on him; then in the last race he lugged out. It’s a bit confusing, but he hasn’t run that much for an older horse.”
Rajiv Maragh is back aboard Sanagas, who drew post 3 in the 1 3/8-mile turf race.
The 7-year-old Bold Hawk, who resumed his racing career last fall after a three-year absence, will wear blinkers in the Bowling Green as he makes his fifth start of 2011.
“He’s still learning so we’re trying to keep him from ducking all over the place,” said trainer Jimmy Toner of Bold Hawk, who in 2011 has finished off the board in the United Nations (gr. IT), the Woodford Reserve Manhattan (gr. IT), and the Three Coins Up turf overnight stakes. “He’s trained twice in blinkers, and last time he seemed to handle it pretty well. In the John’s Call, I don’t think he would have gotten to the winner, but I think had he been more focused he would have held on for second.”
High weight at 117 pounds is 2010’s Red Smith Handicap (gr. IIT) winner Grassy, one of two Bowling Green entrants saddled by Christophe Clement. Most recently fourth in the Sky Classic (Can-IIT) at Woodbine on Aug. 21, Grassy is seeking his first victory of 2011, having finished second in both the June 26 Singspiel (Can-IIIT) and the Three Coins Up over a yielding course at Belmont on May 22.
“He may have been a little unfit the last time,” said Clement of Grassy. “But he is training well, and he likes yielding turf.”
Garrett Gomez comes in to ride Grassy, the 5-2 second choice on the morning line.
Clement, who won the Bowling Green in 1996 and 1999, also sends out Sal the Barber, winner of the 2010 Three Coins Up who was most recently sixth in the Monmouth (gr. IIIT) on June 12.
“It’s a little ambitious, but again, he is training well,” said Clement, who will give a leg up to Cornelio Velasquez.
Making his stakes debut and completing the field for the Bowling Green is the Bill Mott-trained Colonialism. The 4-year-old has been no worse than third since breaking his maiden at Tampa Bay Downs last December, and enters the race off a nearly last-to-first victory in an optional claimer at Saratoga on Aug. 10.
“It’s a step up,” said Mott, who won the race last year with Al Khali. “His last race was very good, but they always have to prove themselves.”
$150,000 Bowling Green Handicap (gr. IIT, Race 9, 5:18 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 3/8 Miles (Turf) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer, Odds 1. Kindergarden Kid (KY), A Garcia, 114, B Tagg, 8/1
2. Sal the Barber (KY), C H Velasquez, 115, C Clement, 8/1
3. Sanagas (GER), R Maragh, 116, H G Motion, 2/1
4. Bold Hawk (KY), J L Espinoza, 115, J J Toner, 10/1
5. Colonialism (KY), E Castro, 114, W I Mott, 6/1
6. Center Divider (KY), J Castellano, 114, C C Brown, 5/1
7. Grassy (KY), G K Gomez 117, C Clement, 5/2