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2023 Amsterdam Stakes Preview & FREE Picks | Ryvit Rides 5-Race Win Streak Into Saratoga
Ryvit (Evers/Eclipse Sportswire/CSM)

2023 Amsterdam Stakes Preview & FREE Picks | Ryvit Rides 5-Race Win Streak Into Saratoga

Aaron previews the 2023 Amsterdam Stakes (G2) from Saratoga, then gives his top picks & long shots. The Steve Asmussen-trained Ryvit rides a 5-race win streak into upstate New York, where he’ll face a field filled with fellow seasoned stakes runners.

Who will win the local prep for the H. Allen Jerkens Stakes (G1)? Tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!

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The press release:

William and Corinne Heiligbrodt’s Ryvit brings a five-race win streak into Friday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Amsterdam, a 6 1/2-furlong sprint for sophomores at Saratoga Race Course.

The Amsterdam is slated as Race 10 on Friday’s 11-race card. First post is 1:10 p.m. Eastern. 

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Trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, the Competitive Edge colt needed four starts to graduate, overpowering a restricted maiden special weight field in March at Oaklawn Park. But the $70,000 Texas Thoroughbred Association Yearling and HORA Sale graduate hasn’t lost since, taking the Bachelor in April at Oaklawn, the Grade 3 Chick Lang in May at Pimlico and the Maxfield last out on July 2 over a sloppy and sealed main track at Ellis Park.

Asmussen said Ryvit, who has won his last three outings in frontrunning fashion, has overcome issues with the starting gate to develop into a win machine.

“We started him early last year and he had a weird incident at the gate where it didn’t come open smoothly, and that caused quite a bit of an issue with him. It took him three more races to get that out of his head,” Asmussen said.

Asmussen has won the Amsterdam a record six times, scoring for the Heiligbrodts with Bwana Charlie [2004] and Yaupon [2020] as well as with Santana Strings [2005], Holy Boss [2015], Jackie’s Warrior [2021] and Gunite [2022].

“Ryvit just wins,” Asmussen said. “The Amsterdam has been good to us and hopefully it continues to be.”

Ricardo Santana, Jr. has the call from post 5 aboard Ryvit, who is assigned a co-field high 124 pounds.

Drew’s Gold won his first four career starts before finishing a prominent second last out to Arabian Lion in the Grade 1 Woody Stephens presented by Mohegan Sun on June 10 at Belmont Park.

Trained and co-owned by James Chapman with Stuart Tsujimoto, the Violence ridgling has outrun his $25,000 purchase price at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale, banking $302,620 led by wins in the Jimmy Winkfield in February at Aqueduct Racetrack and the Gold Fever in May at Belmont Park. The latter effort garnered a 98 Beyer Speed Figure.

Chapman said he was confident that Drew’s Gold would step up and perform in the Woody Stephens and the dark bay, despite lunging at the break, responded with a strong effort when second at every point of call to earn a career-best 106 Beyer.

“I told everyone coming out of his win that he was going to jump again and that’s what he did. Who would have thought you could run a 106 Beyer and get beat,” Chapman said. “It was his first time seven-eighths and it was his first time in a graded race out of open races and that horse came back from running long at Pimlico and ran a good race. He got beat, but to me he didn’t get beat. He ran his best race and did what he was supposed to do – he just didn’t get the money.”

Jose Ortiz, who guided Drew’s Gold [122 pounds] through a half-mile breeze in 47.88 seconds over the Spa main track Thursday, picks up the mount from the inside post.

AMO Racing USA’s undefeated New York Thunder [post 6, Tyler Gaffalione, 122 pounds] will make his dirt and graded-stakes debut for trainer Jorge Delgado.

The Nyquist colt made his first two starts sprinting five furlongs at Gulfstream Park, graduating by 6 1/2-lengths in November over synthetic ahead of a 1 3/4-length score in December over turf.

The $130,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase enters from a gate-to-wire 7 1/2-length romp on April 30 in the Woodstock, traveling six-furlongs over the Woodbine Tapeta.

New York Thunder is out of the Midshipman mare Start Over, who is a half-sister to graded stakes-placed Degree of Risk. His third dam, Surf Club, produced 2012 Grade 1 Forego-winner Emcee.

SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Robert Masterson, Stonestreet Stables, Jay A. Schoenfarber, Waves Edge Capital and Catherine Donovan’s multiple graded-stakes placed Gilmore [post 4, Irad Ortiz, Jr., 118 pounds] will look to make the grade for trainer Brendan Walsh.

The Twirling Candy bay closed to finish third last out in the Woody Stephens, finishing 2 1/2-lengths back of the victorious Arabian Lion while earning a career-best 104 Beyer.

“He ran great,” said Walsh of the Woody Stephens effort. “This is a cutback for him, but he is sharper. I thought he ran a lot sharper in the Woody Stephens – he was a lot closer to the pace than he had been. He was running at the end.”

By Twirling Candy and out of the Henny Hughes mare My Surfer Girl, the $250,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase finished second in the nine-furlong El Camino Real Derby in February over the Golden Gate synthetic when in the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.

Gilmore has made his last four starts for Walsh, including a runner-up effort in the seven-furlong Grade 3 Bay Shore in April at Aqueduct and a rallying effort to finish third in the Grade 2 Pat Day Mile on May 6 at Churchill Downs.

Walsh said Gilmore has continued to develop and, like his fellow Amsterdam contenders, will be hopeful of using this race as a springboard to the Grade 1, $500,000 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial on August 26 at the Spa.

“He seems like he’s improving,” Walsh said. “It’s a nice race for him and if nothing else, it’s a good race to take him to the Allen Jerkens if you look at the big picture.”

Rounding out the field are Grade 3 Bay Shore-winner Joey Freshwater [post 2, Jose Lezcano, 124 pounds], who adds blinkers for trainer Linda Rice; and the graded stakes-placed Deer District [post 3, Martin Garcia, 118 pounds] for trainer Dale Romans.