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Maven Seeks A Return To Winning Form In Lucky Coin
Maven (Credit: Coady Photography)

Maven Seeks A Return To Winning Form In Lucky Coin

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – Richard Ravin’s Group 3 winner Maven headlines Friday’s $120,000 Lucky Coin at Saratoga Race Course.

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Trained by Wesley Ward, Maven enters the Lucky Coin, a 5 1/2-furlong Mellon turf sprint for older horses who have not won a stakes this year, from an off-the-board effort in the King’s Stand (G1) on June 15 at Ascot.

The 4-year-old American Pharoah chestnut has been a boom-or-bust proposition with 4 wins and 4 off-the-board efforts from 8 starts. As a 2-year-old, Maven graduated on debut on the main track at Aqueduct Racetrack in April 2019 and 2 months later shipped to France and captured the Prix du Bois (G3) traveling 5 furlongs on the Chantilly turf.

Last year, Maven won a turf allowance sprint at Keeneland but finished off the board in the Mahony at Saratoga and the Franklin-Simpson (G3) at Kentucky Downs.

“He didn’t really run too well at Saratoga, but he may have been on a bit of a downward spiral then,” Ward said. “We gelded him last year (in October), and at the time that we gelded him, it was getting to be the fall of the year and I didn’t really want to take him down to Florida, so we just gave him the extra time. He had no issues. He just ran a couple of poor races.”

Maven kicked off his 4-year-old campaign with an allowance score on the Keeneland turf in April that garnered a career-best 104 Beyer Speed Figure before shipping overseas and finishing 11th in the 5-furlong King’s Stand under Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez.

“We brought him back in the spring and he was a little short going into his first race. He really amazed me how he just exploded that day to the front like he does,” Ward said. “Turning for home, I was expecting him to stop and he just kind of re-broke, and he really wasn’t ready. So, that’s what inspired me to take him over to Royal Ascot at a distance that I thought would be just awesome for him, 5/8, off the big numbers he got off his Keeneland run.

“It was good spacing and everything you want to see. I had my rider, Johnny, on him that won on him,” Ward continued. “He broke and kind of sprinted out there and when the running started, he just didn’t have it. I’m not sure if this is a horse that is just a horse-for-course or if he can take his show on the road. That’s a little bit of a question mark. That said, he’s training really, really well right now.”

Velazquez will pilot Maven from the outermost post 8.

Marc Keller’s Pulsate, a 5-year-old Speightstown chestnut trained by Robert Ribaudo, was a prominent second in last year’s Lucky Coin, finishing 1 1/4-lengths back of Battle Station.

A strong second in his seasonal debut in a 6-furlong optional-claiming turf sprint at Belmont on July 4, Pulsate faded to fourth last out sprinting 6 1/2 furlongs on the main track on August 6 at the Spa.

Manny Franco (post 4) will look to provide Pulsate his first win since December 2019.

Patricia Generazio’s New York homebred Maxwell Esquire finished 2 1/4 lengths back of Pulsate last out on July 4.

Trainer Christophe Clement said the 4-year-old Discreet Cat colt has trained well enough to earn a fourth career stakes start and first since finishing fifth in the Aqueduct Turf Sprint Championship in November.

“He’s training well and doing well,” Clement said. “We were looking at other races but we’ll see if he can face good horses and see what happens.”

Irad Ortiz Jr. has picked up the mount from post 5.

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Gatsas Stables’ Backtohisroots will look to make amends after stumbling at the start last out on October 4 in the Belmont Turf Sprint Invitational (G3) and unseating Jose Lezcano.

The 5-year-old son of Mark Valeski, a first-time gelding trained by John Terranova, boasts a record of 13-3-4-2 with purse earnings of $196,075, including a rallying score in an optional-claiming turf sprint in August 2020 at the Spa.

Backtohisroots will exit post 6 under Luis Saez.

Rounding out the field are Noble Emotion (post 3, Jose Ortiz), a 4-time winner from 10 starts for trainer Horacio DePaz; Holiday Stone (post 7, Tyler Gaffalione), an 8-time winner with purse earnings of $532,159 for trainer George Weaver; The Connector (post 2, Willie Martinez), a Monmouth Park ship-in for trainer Michael Dini; and Guildsman (post 1, Ricardo Santana Jr.), a 3-time winner for trainer Robert Falcone Jr.

The Lucky Coin is slated as race 9 on Friday’s 10-race card. First post is 1:05 PM Eastern.

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