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2023 Saranac Stakes Preview | Carl Spackler, Activist Investing Give Brown Strong Pair At Saratoga
Carl Spackler (Coglianese Photos / Ryan Thompson)

2023 Saranac Stakes Preview | Carl Spackler, Activist Investing Give Brown Strong Pair At Saratoga

Four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown will saddle a pair of top contenders in graded stakes-winner Carl Spackler and the improving Activist Investing in Friday’s Grade 3, $175,000 Saranac, a 1 1/16-mile inner turf test for sophomores, at Saratoga Race Course.

The Saranac is slated as Race 4 on Friday’s 10-race card. First post is 1:10. p.m. Eastern.  

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Carl Spackler [post 2, Tyler Gaffalione, 124 pounds], owned by e Five Racing Thoroughbreds, has kept good company throughout his career, finishing a close second to eventual Grade 1-winner Far Bridge in his January debut at Gulfstream Park.

He followed with a romping 8 3/4-length maiden win one month later over the same oval ahead of a close eighth, defeated just 4 1/2-lengths, in the Grade 2 American Turf in May at Churchill Downs – a race won by next-out stakes winner Webslinger and featuring third-place finisher Major Dude, who took the next-out Grade 2 Penn Mile.

The Lope de Vega chestnut, bred in Ireland by Fifth Avenue Bloodstock, rebounded with a stylish 2 1/4-length score in the one-mile Grade 2 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame on August 11 here.

With returning rider Tyler Gaffalione up, Carl Spackler saved ground through the first turn and traveled just off the rail in fifth down the backstretch as Mysterious Night marked the half-mile in 47.45. Carl Spackler was angled five-wide for the stretch run and took over from his stablemate Appraise with a sixteenth to run to secure the comfortable win in a final time of 1:36.29 and garner a career-best 97 Beyer Speed Figure.

“Considering the layoff, I thought he ran terrific,” Brown said. “We thought so highly of him, so to see him get back on track in a big way in a big race was great.”

Carl Spackler is out of the Brown-trained and e Five Racing Thoroughbreds campaigned graded stakes-winning More Than Ready mare Zindaya, who is a half-sister to Grade 1-winner Western Aristocrat.

Klaravich Stables’ Activist Investing [post 5, Flavien Prat, 118 pounds] graduated at third asking in October at Belmont at the Big A. The British-bred Kingman bay, out of the Redoute’s Choice mare Astronomy’s Choice, returned from a 10-month layoff on August 13 here to best an optional-claiming field by 1 3/4-lengths traveling nine furlongs over firm footing.

“It was just some immaturity stuff, no big deal,” said Brown, regarding the time off. “It took longer than we thought, but he really impressed me off a really long layoff going a mile and an eighth which is hard to do.”

Brown said he is concerned about bringing both horses back on short rest, but the opportunity to race them again on a familiar surface put them into consideration.

“It’s nice that they handle it and they’re right here,” Brown said. “Right now, we’re planning on running [both] but we’ll take a good look at it, too.”

Harrell Ventures’ Lost Ark, a stakes winner on dirt, will make his grass debut for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher.

The Violence colt, out of the stakes-winning A.P. Indy mare Marion Ravenwood, saw his Champion half-sister and multiple Grade 1-winning stablemate Nest finish third in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign here on Friday.

Lost Ark won impressively on debut last July sprinting 5 1/2-furlongs at Belmont Park ahead of a 7 1/2-length score in the one-mile Sapling one month later at Monmouth Park that featured his third-place stablemate Major Dude, who is now a multiple graded stakes-winner on turf.

The $275,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase was off-the-board in his final pair of starts as a 2-year-old, but returned victorious in June in a 1 1/16-mile optional-claimer at Monmouth. He was a distant fourth last out on July 21 here in the restricted nine-furlong Curlin won by Scotland, who finished sixth in Saturday’s Grade 1 Travers. The Curlin runner-up, Il Miracolo, exited that effort to win the Grade 3 Smarty Jones at Parx.

Lost Ark has worked three times over the Oklahoma training turf, including a half-mile effort in 49.23 Sunday.

The Spa’s leading rider Irad Ortiz, Jr. has the call from the outermost post 7 aboard Lost Ark, who is assigned 118 pounds.

Gatsas Stables, R. A. Hill Stable and Steve Schoenfeld’s stakes-winner Freedom Trail [post 3, Jose Ortiz, 118 pounds] sports a record of 7-2-0-1 and purse earnings of $155,125 for trainer John Terranova.

The Collected colt won his first two outings traveling 1 1/16-miles over firm turf at Belmont at the Big A, taking his debut by a head in September ahead of a three-quarter length score in the Awad in October.

Freedom Trail has competed exclusively in stakes company since, finishing third last out in the 11-furlong Kent over soft going on July 15 at Delaware Park. He breezed back five-eighths in a bullet 1:00.50 August 20 over the Oklahoma training turf.

Bred in Kentucky by LNJ Foxwoods, the $150,000 OBS Spring Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training purchase is out of the War Front mare Freedom, who is a half-sibling to multiple Grade 1-winners Hoppertunity and Executiveprivilege.

Lael Stables’ Taking Candy [post 1, Jose Lezcano, 118 pounds] enters from a narrow nose score in a 1 1/16-mile optional-claiming tilt here over good going on July 22.

Trained by Cherie DeVaux, the Twirling Candy colt utilized late-running tactics in his first three outings, including a maiden score against elders at this distance on May 21 at Churchill Downs.

Last out, with returning rider Jose Lezcano aboard for the first time, Taking Candy stalked from third position before advancing to the lead inside the final sixteenth and getting the better of a head bob over Scramble to secure the win at odds of 12-1. The victory earned a career-best 84 Beyer.

Bred in Kentucky by KatieRich Farms, Taking Candy is out of the Trappe Shot mare Taking Aim, who is a half-sister to 2012 Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile-winner Tapizar.

Rounding out the field are stakes-placed Mendelssohns March [post 6, Junior Alvarado, 118 pounds] for trainer Kenny McPeek; and two-time winner Yacowlef [post 4, Joel Rosario, 120 pounds], who makes his stateside debut for trainer Jack Sisterson. Gilmore was entered for the main-track only.