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Birdstone Preview: Moretti the Marathoner
Moretti winning the Flat Out (Credit: Chelsea Durand / NYRA)

Birdstone Preview: Moretti the Marathoner

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – Trainer Todd Pletcher’s Moretti makes the next start in his newfound career as a marathoner in Sunday’s $100,000 Birdstone Stakes at Saratoga.

The Birdstone is a 1 3/4-mile dirt route that will make the field of seven turn left three times before hitting the wire. This year’s edition is slated as the penultimate event on a 10-race card.

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Here is a look at the full field for the Birdstone:

1. Standard Deviation 4/1 – After failing to take hold on dirt as a 3-year-old, he switched to the turf and immediately succeeded, winning a minor stakes in his first roll over the lawn. Though he hasn’t won in nearly a year, he’s in good hands with trainer Graham Motion, who adds blinkers (a 22% winning move) as he switches from turf to dirt (28%).

2. You’re to Blame 12/1 – He was a game victor in the 2018 Greenwood Cup (G3) in his first marathon distance attempt, and all told, he has a record of 6-1-3-0 when running at least 1 1/4 miles. He was a well-beaten fifth last time out in the 1 3/8-mile Flat Out Stakes, but that can be forgiven considering that was over a sloppy course, so expect a better effort if he catches a fast, clean main track.

3. Expert 5/1 – His first marathon attempt saw him finish third in the Flat Out, his most recent effort. The Dominick Schettino trainee appears to have suffered no ill effects as a result of running long; he fired a bullet best-of-seven 5-furlong move in 1:00.60 over the Belmont Park training track in his second timed workout after the race.

4. Rocketry 7/2 – In the summer and fall of 2018, he was considered the nation’s best dirt marathoner due to his wins in the 1 5/8-mile Temperence Hill Invitational (where he broke the course record) and the 1 3/4-mile Breeders’ Cup Marathon (G2). He hasn’t won again in 7 starts since, but he should at least be fresh as he makes his second start of the year following a fourth in mid-June’s Flat Out.

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5. American Tattoo 8/1 – He was a close third in the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Marathon (G2) and followed that by winning an off-turf edition of the 1 1/4-mile H. Allen Jerkens Stakes at Gulfstream Park. His most recent 2 efforts left a lot to be desired, but he makes his first start since March and for new trainer Jack Sisterson, who might be able to reignite something in a horse who won a 2018 Group 1 event in his native Argentina.

6. Moretti 8/5 – The morning line favorite has shown significant improvement as a 4-year-old after the $900k purchase was largely disappointing earlier in his career. He romped in the Flat Out, winning by 5 1/4 lengths, and was a solid second in the 1 1/4-mile Suburban Stakes (G2) last time out behind Tacitus, one of the top older dirt males in training.

7. Highland Sky 8/1 – Though 26 of his 28 prior starts came on turf, he was a dominating 8 1/4-length victor in last year’s off-turf running of the 1 1/4-mile John’s Call Stakes over the local main track. He’s cross-entered in Saturday’s Bowling Green Stakes (G2), a 1 3/8-mile local inner turf event, so where he runs will depend on trainer Barclay Tagg’s confidence level.

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