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Fantasioso Looks To Capitalize On Increased Distance In John’s Call
John's Call, the multiple Grade 1-winning gelding for whom the race is named (Credit: NYRA)

Fantasioso Looks To Capitalize On Increased Distance In John’s Call

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – Bloom Racing Stable’s Fantasioso, the runner-up in the 2-mile Belmont Gold Cup (G2) in June, will look to again thrive when competing at a long distance in Wednesday’s $120,000 John’s Call at 1 5/8 miles over Saratoga Race Course’s Mellon turf.

The 17th running of the John’s Call, for 4-year-olds and up who have not won a graded stakes this year, will see a seven-horse field sent off in race 9 on the 10-race card. Post time is 5:39 PM Eastern.

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Running in the marathon Belmont Gold Cup on the eve of Belmont Stakes Day, Fantasioso thrived going a career-long distance, finishing only behind Baron Samedi to tie a personal-best with a 95 Beyer Speed Figure.

The Argentinian-bred Fantasioso was a two-time Group 3 winner in his native country, capturing the 2019 Progreso and the 2020 Botafogo, both at San Isidro. Since arriving to the United States this spring and transferring to the care of trainer Ignacio Correas IV, Fantasioso has netted speed figures in excess of 90 in each of his 4 starts.

Fantasioso was shortened to 1 3/8 miles in the United Nations (G1) last out, finishing eighth. Correas said returning to a longer distance in his Saratoga debut should be beneficial. He will reunite with Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano, who was aboard for the Belmont Gold Cup, breaking from post 6.

“He’s been training very well and I think the added distance will be in his favor,” Correas said. “He’s been doing well coming out of the United Nations and he’ll be shipping to Saratoga and will be there Saturday night.”

In April, Fantasioso commenced his 6-year-old campaign by crossing the wire fourth in the Elkhorn (G2) at Keeneland.

Fantasioso finished seventh in the Louisville (G3) in May at Churchill, just 3 1/2 lengths back to winner Arklow (a multiple graded stakes winner with more than $2.7 million in earnings) before his stellar effort at Belmont a month later.

“He’s run 4 times for me and 3 have been good races. I’ll be happy if he can repeat any of those three races on Wednesday,” Correas said. “We just threw out the United Nations. I think that was a little short for him. But he’s been training like he was for those other races. I’m happy with him.”

Fantasioso will compete against a familiar rival in Trinity Farm’s Red Knight, who placed fifth in the Elkhorn and was the runner-up in the Louisville. Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, the veteran 7-year-old Pure Prize gelding has already raced at the Spa this meet, finishing fifth in the 1 3/8-mile Bowling Green (G2) on July 31.

Red Knight, the winner of the Sycamore (G3) in October at Keeneland before capping his 2020 with a runner-up finish in the Red Smith (G3) in November at Aqueduct Racetrack, carries an 8-8-1 record in 26 career starts into the John’s Call.

Junior Alvarado will ride from the inside post.

Donegal Racing’s Shamrocket has finished on the board in his last 3 starts for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher. After running fourth in the Man o’ War (G1) in May at Belmont, the 4-year-old son of Tonalist posted an allowance win at Belmont and followed with a third-place finish in the 1 1/2-mile Grand Couturier in July at the same track.

Returning to graded stakes company, Shamrocket used a ground-saving trip to rally for third in the Bowling Green last month. Joel Rosario will pick up the mount for Shamrocket’s return to the Spa, exiting post 3.

Peter Brant’s Serve the King has provided a strong account in stakes races as he looks to break through, entering the John’s Call off consecutive fourth-place efforts in the Monmouth (G3) and the United Nations following an 8-month hiatus.

Making his first start since running second in the 2020 Monmouth in October, Serve the King gained in the stretch to get fourth in his first race back off the respite in this year’s edition of the race on June 5. Staying at the New Jersey track for the United Nations, the 5-year-old son of Kingman earned a 97 Beyer in finishing just a neck back to Bromance in his bid for a placing.

The Chad Brown trainee will have the services of jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. from the outermost post.

Mike Maker, the leading trainer at the Saratoga meet, will send out a pair of contenders in a Ajourneytofreedom and Conviction Trade.

Ajourneytofreedom, owned by Paradise Farms and David Staudacher, rallied from eighth to finish third in the Belmont Gold Cup over yielding turf. The 4-year-old Hard Spun colt returned to best Jais’s Solitude by a neck in a 1 1/2-mile optional claimer over firm Saratoga turf on July 23 and will be looking for his first stakes score with Tyler Gaffalione picking up the mount from post 4.

Conviction Trade, who shares the same owners with Ajourneytofreedom, started his year with a placing in the John B. Connally (G3) in January at Sam Houston before 4 subsequent off-the-board finishes.

Jose Ortiz, aboard when Conviction Trade last competed in a stakes when seventh in the Belmont Gold Cup, will have the return call from post 5.

Lotenbach Stables’ Ry’s the Guy ran predominantly on turf during his 4-year-old year in 2020 but made his last 5 starts on the main track, starting with a win in the Champions Day Marathon in September 2020 at Churchill.

Trainer Ian Wilkes will now move Ry’s the Guy back to turf for the first time since August 2020, making the move after the son of Distorted Humor ran fifth in the Birdstone on August 5 at the Spa after finishing sixth in the Brooklyn (G2) going 1 1/2 miles on Big Sandy on Belmont Stakes Day.

Luis Saez, the meet’s leading rider, will be in the irons from post 7.

Moretti is entered for the main track only.

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