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The Grade 1, $500,000 Fourstardave will go off as number 10 on a competitive 11-race card at Saratoga on Saturday. While the race only drew a field of seven, don’t let that fool you; it’s a stacked group. The race is becoming known as a key prep for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Mile, as several winners have gone on to win in that spot. Last year’s Fourstardave winner Tourist went on to narrowly defeat Tepin in a thrilling Breeders’ Cup Turf Mile.
Leading the field is Disco Partner, who might be running as well as anyone in the country right now. Everybody knows about his incredible world record-setting win in the Grade 3 Jaipur Stakes at Belmont Park, but last time out, he stretched out to a mile and looked just as strong in the $150,000 Forbidden Apple. Trained by Christophe Clement and ridden by Tyler Gaffalione, Disco Partner will break from post 6 on Saturday.
“I thought he won well at Belmont, but it’s a Grade 1, so we’ll try it,” said Clement. “It looks very ambitious, and we can always go back shorter next time, but he’s won at a mile, so we’ll see what happens.”
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American Patriot, trained by Todd Pletcher, is another horse that will warrant plenty of attention. Two races back, he won the Grade 1 Makers 46 Mile at Keeneland, then finished 11th at the prestigious Royal Ascot meet in the Group 1 Queen Anne.
“He came back from Royal Ascot in good form, and he’s been pointing for this since then,” Pletcher said. “He’s been training well, he seems happy, and he’s getting back to what he’s best at, which is a two-turn mile. He gives us the impression he’s training as well as he ever has. It’s a tough race for sure, but he acts like he’s in good form. I think his Maker’s 46 indicates that, when he’s on his A-game, he can compete with the best of the American milers.”
John Velazquez has the mount on American Patriot, who will break from post 2.
#6 Disco Partner – This horse is just too good right now to not put on top. His Jaipur victory is what he’s famous for, but he showed last time out that a mile on the turf was no problem when he romped in a small Belmont Park stakes event. The list of horses that have come back to win after running in the Jaipur gets longer every week. Horses like Green Mask are running freakish races and making Disco Partner look better and better. This race will obviously be his biggest test yet, but if he brings that same turn of foot that he’s been showing, it will be lights out for the rest of this field.
#3 Time Test – He was a solid second last time out in the Grade 1 Manhattan Stakes, but I’m a little concerned with how the winner and third-place finisher followed that up. Ascend finished first and Sadler’s Joy third in the Manhattan, but both were defeated next out in the Grade 2 Bowling Green Stakes. I still think very highly of Time Test, and you obviously can’t go wrong with trainer Chad Brown, but that last race was one that he should have won. He’ll be on all of my tickets, but I can’t quite make him my top pick.
#2 American Patriot – Draw a line through that last race when they took him to Royal Ascot and entered him in one of the meet’s toughest races. That was over his head, but when you look at his Grade 1 win at Keeneland, you have to be impressed. That field was loaded with talent, so that’s a key race when analyzing his talent level. They’ve given him sufficient time off after the Ascot try, so he’ll come back with a strong effort. Pletcher is not one to take lightly at Saratoga.
#7 World Approval – I’m always on the wrong side with this horse, so perhaps it’s a good thing for his fan base that I’m picking him as just an exotic play here. There’s no doubt that he’s as classy as they come, but going a mile is something he hasn’t done since his 2-year-old season when he tried the dirt at Aqueduct. He has two very nice wins this year, but was a little disappointing last time out in the Manhattan, finishing fifth. Underneath is the best play with him in this spot.
#5 Sassy Little Lila – This is a curious entry for trainer Brad Cox, putting his filly up against the boys in an ultra tough spot. Coming off of her last race, though, she has a shot after finishing a good second in the Grade 1 Just a Game at Belmont Park. Her early speed on this turf course is going to be very dangerous, but at the same time, this is going to be the best field she has faced by far. If you get a good enough price, it’s worth a shot, because if she is left alone on the front end, she might get brave and take them all the way.
#1 Ballagh Rocks – A really nice horse that I’ve picked on several occasions without much luck, he did narrowly win last time out over Projected, but it’s a bad sign that Projected came back to lose last time out in a race that he should’ve won. It wouldn’t be a shock, but you have to throw out somebody.
#4 Weekend Hideaway – He is a main-track-only entry, so let’s hope he doesn’t draw into the race, but if it does come off of the turf, then he’s one you must respect, as he’s the only one with solid dirt form.
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