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Golden Pal Ready To Shine In Quick Call On Saratoga Opening Day
Golden Pal (Credit: Coady Photography)

Golden Pal Ready To Shine In Quick Call On Saratoga Opening Day

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – Mrs. John Magnier, Michael B. Tabor, Derrick Smith, and Westerberg’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2)-winner Golden Pal will make his seasonal debut in Thursday’s $120,000 Quick Call (G3), a 5 1/2-furlong Mellon turf sprint for sophomores on Opening Day of the 40-day summer meet at Saratoga Race Course.

Golden Pal, trained by Wesley Ward, enjoyed a memorable juvenile campaign, finishing second in the Norfolk (G2) at Ascot last June ahead of a stylish gate-to-wire maiden win in the 5 1/2-furlong Skidmore in August on the Saratoga turf, garnering a career-best 92 Beyer Speed Figure.

Sent to post as the odds-on favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint, contested at 5 1/2 furlongs over good going at Keeneland, Golden Pal set splits of 21.62, 44.63, and 56.42 seconds, holding off a late rally from Cowan to secure a 3/4-length score in a final time of 1:02.82.

Out of the 11-time stakes-winning Midshipman mare Lady Shipman, Golden Pal has posted 5 breezes dating back to June 6 in preparation for his sophomore debut, including an easy 1/2-mile in 51.80 on the Belmont inner turf on Thursday.

“He’s doing really well. We’re excited about him,” said Ward. “I think he’ll be the best horse I ever had, but we’ll see if it comes out that way. He does things in the mornings that are just so impressive. He’s just an immensely talented horse and we’re looking forward to getting his season started here at Saratoga on Opening Day. Hopefully, that leads into the Breeders’ Cup at the end of the year.”

Irad Ortiz Jr. retains the mount from post 3.

Ward also entered Silverton Hill’s Fire Sword, who has won 3 of 5 career starts, albeit as Main Track Only.

Bryan Hilliard’s Second of July will look to get back to winning ways for trainer Phil Gleaves after off-the-board finishes in his last 2 starts.

The Jack Milton chestnut graduated on debut in September at odds of 68/1 in a 6-furlong inner turf sprint at Belmont and proved the result was no fluke, capturing the Futurity (G3) over the Widener turf course a month later.

Second of July finished 12th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint to close out his 2-year-old season and was seventh after being bumped at the start last out in a 6-furlong turf sprint in June at Belmont in his seasonal debut.

Gleaves said Second of July has excuses for his last 2 starts.

“In the Breeders’ Cup, he got hit with a clod of turf, so much so that when I got back to the barn his right eye was fully closed. That told the tale of that race and then I gave him the winter off,” said Gleaves. “I ran him back at Belmont and our plan was to sit second or third that day and he got hit by the horse outside him leaving the gate and that put him back to last. The jock tried to put him in the race and the horse ran off, so to speak, going from last to second into a 44 and change pace.

“Since then, he’s been doing good and training well,” Gleaves added. “I would hope he’ll get back to his best form on Thursday.”

Gleaves said Second of July, a longshot in both winning efforts, continues to be a good-moving horse.

“I wouldn’t say he’s grown that much from 2 to 3, but he’s still a very sound and fluid-moving horse,” said Gleaves. “At some point, I want to stretch him out. He’s a Jack Milton, so you would think he would have no problems going two turns. For now though, coming off the bad race at Belmont, I’d like to have one more sprint under our belts.”

Dylan Davis, aboard for both winning efforts, will guide Second of July from post 2.

“He’s got very good speed if he needs to use it, but in his 2 winning races, he came from off the pace,” said Gleaves. “So, I’m sure we’ll try something like that again.”

Although cross-entered in Sunday’s $75,000 My Frenchman at Monmouth Park, Gleaves confirmed the Saratoga-based Second of July will contest the Quick Call.

West Point Thoroughbreds and Marvin Delfiner’s Jaxon Traveler, a $140,000 purchase at the OBS Spring Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training, has posted a consistent record of 4 wins and 3 seconds in 7 starts for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen.

The dark bay Munnings colt, bred in Maryland by Dr. and Mrs. A. Leonard Pineau, completed his 2020 campaign with a score in the 7-furlong Maryland Juvenile Futurity in December at Laurel Park.

Jaxon Traveler opened his sophomore season with a pair of starts at Oaklawn Park, finishing second in the Gazebo in March ahead of a 2 3/4-length score in the Bachelor in April.

He has finished second in both of his recent efforts in the Chick Lang (G3) in May at Pimlico and in the Woodstock last out on June 20 on the Tapeta at Woodbine Racetrack.

Jaxon Traveler will make his turf debut from post 9 under Jose Ortiz.

Lindy Farms and Ice Wine Stable’s Fauci, runner-up to Golden Pal in the Skidmore last summer, completed his 4-race juvenile campaign with a close second in the Juvenile Turf Sprint over soft going at Kentucky Downs.

Also cross-entered in the My Frenchman, trainer Phil Antonacci said Fauci will race at his Monmouth Park base on Sunday unless weather intervenes.

“The plan right now is Monmouth and, depending on weather, the race at Saratoga will be a backup,” said Antonacci. “The weather has been a little weird lately and they’re off the turf here today, so I want to be prepared in case it does come off the turf tomorrow.”

Initially trained by Ward, Fauci was transferred to Antonacci following a second-place finish in the Palisades Turf Sprint in April at Keeneland.

In two starts for Antonacci, Fauci finished fourth in the off-the-turf Paradise Creek in May at Belmont ahead of a rallying allowance win over older horses in a 5 1/2-furlong turf sprint on June 20 at Monmouth Park.

“Wesley put a great base into him,” said Antonacci. “He’s very easy to train and a gentleman and a pleasure to be around so far. We’re lucky to have him. He makes my job easy.”

Should he race at Saratoga, Fauci will emerge from post 6 under Nik Juarez.

Rounding out the field are Omaha City (post 4, Manny Franco), winner of the Hollywood Beach in September at Gulfstream; Kentucky Pharoah (post 1, Tyler Gaffalione), who captured the Dania Beach in January at Gulfstream; and allowance winner Rebel Posse (post 8, Reylu Gutierrez). Maiden winner Mr. Sippi is entered as Main Track Only.

The Quick Call is slated as race 8 on Thursday’s 10-race Opening Day card. First post is 1:05 PM Eastern.

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