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SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – Four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown was highly impressed with a comeback allowance optional claiming victory from L’Imperator, so much so that he will step the 4-time winner up in class for the 63rd running of the $200,000 Bernard Baruch Handicap (G2) on Monday, Closing Day at Saratoga Race Course.
The 1 1/16-mile event for 3-year-olds and up over the Mellon turf honors the late financier and philanthropist. During World War I, Baruch was chairman of the War Industries Board where he managed the nation’s economic mobilization under President Woodrow Wilson. He was subsequently appointed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as an advisor to the director of the Office of War and Mobilization. As a thoroughbred owner, Baruch campaigned horses under the moniker Kershaw Stable, whose Happy Argo won the 1927 Carter.
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Owned by Madaket Stables, Wonder Stables, and Robert V. LaPenta, L’Imperator arose from nearly a year layoff in style, defeating graded stakes-placed Ever Dangerous by 1 3/4 lengths in a 9-furlong allowance optional claiming tilt on August 4 over the inner turf. The French-bred son of Holy Roman Emperor settled in fifth along the rail down the backstretch and made a sweeping four-wide move approaching upper stretch before collaring the pacesetter at the 1/8 pole to secure the victory.
The triumph was the first start for L’Imperator since making his North American debut in the Saranac (G3) in August 2020, where he maintained seventh position throughout every point of call.
Brown gave L’Imperator an extended rest, which he said made a huge difference.
“He’s come back really well. He’s a totally different horse and I’ve been very pleased with him,” Brown said. “It’s a little bit of a cutback in distance, that would be the only concern. But we’re giving it a shot. I was impressed and he exceed my expectations in his allowance win. Gelding him and giving him the time off have really gotten him over some of his soreness and such. He certainly did a 180.”
Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., a 2-time winner of the Bernard Baruch, will pilot L’Imperator, who will carry 118 pounds, from post 3.
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Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher will saddle a pair of contenders in pursuit of their first graded stakes victories in their second starts off a layoff in No Word [post 4, Manny Franco, 117] and En Wye Cee [post 2, Luis Saez, 117].
Wertheimer and Frere’s No Word was a troubled eighth in an August 6 allowance optional claiming event going 9 furlongs at the Spa.
The 4-year-old homebred son of Silent Name had to check entering the first turn, then raced four-wide down the backstretch before moving two paths to the outside in upper stretch and lacked an aggressive run, finishing 4 1/2 lengths to Forty Under.
No Word will attempt to recapture his sophomore season form, which saw him finish a narrow third to subsequent Grade 1 winners Domestic Spending and Gufo in the Saratoga Derby Invitational before coming up a 1/2-length shy of victory in the Belmont Derby Invitational (G1) when second to Gufo.
Out of the unraced A.P. Indy mare Listen A.P., No Word is a full-brother to dual graded stakes winner Silentio.
“He had a tough trip last out, but he’s come back well,” Pletcher said.
Waterford Stables’ En Wye Cee seeks his first turf triumph after a trio of third-place finishes over grass. Last out, the homebred son of Declaration of War finished behind L’Imperator, where he lacked racing room in upper to mid stretch and rallied late in the final furlong to round out the trifecta. This was his first start since finishing third in the Knickerbocker (G3) in October at Belmont Park.
“He had a tough trip in his comeback race but ran well, hopefully he moves forward from having a start,” Pletcher said.
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Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey will seek his fifth Bernard Baruch triumph with Phipps Stable’s 3-time winner Dreams of Tomorrow, who enters from a fourth in the Lure on August 7 at the Spa.
McGaughey previously sent out My Big Boy , Furiously , Lure , and Ironicus  to Bernard Baruch victories.
Dreams of Tomorrow, a 4-year-old bay son of Speightstown, has never finished worse than fourth in a dozen lifetime starts and earned his first victory at sixth asking going 9 furlongs over Aqueduct’s inner turf in December. Following a stakes placing when third in the Henry Clark on April 24 at Pimlico, Dreams of Tomorrow defeated next-out winners Red Storm Rising and Voodoo Zip in a 1-mile allowance on May 15 over the Widener turf at Belmont. He defeated winners once more in an off-the-turf allowance optional claiming event on July 9 over a muddy and sealed Belmont main track.
Dreams of Tomorrow will carry 118 pounds under jockey Jose Lezcano, who will ride from post 5.
Completing the field is Flying P Stables’ Tell Your Daddy, who arrives off a second-place finish in the Lure on August 7 for trainer Tom Morley.
The dark bay or brown son of Scat Daddy was claimed $40,000 in January at Fair Grounds Race Course and was third in the Seek Again on May 22 at Belmont in his second start for Morley.
Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez will guide Tell Your Daddy, who will carry 118 pounds, from post 1.
The Bernard Baruch is slated as race 3 on Monday’s 12-race Closing Day card, which offers a first post of 12:35 PM Eastern.
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