Now that I know Thursday's turf races at Saratoga are on, some observations on today's card.
Race 2 (5 ½ furlongs, MC50k, 2yo fillies)
The likely post-time favorite Sky Hosoya drops down in class from a maiden special weight to maiden claiming and gains blinkers from Todd Pletcher. Her three-quarter sister Marina de Chavon won huge (by over 11 lengths) in her second outing at two, and another half-sister Rumba Punch produced last year’s G3 Bashford Manor runner-up Lyin’ Heart. Wesley Ward sends out R Bling, a Sky Mesa filly whose stakes-winning dam Jewels N Gems won first-out as a 2-year-old. Jose Lezcano rode her mother to victory several times; he’ll try and do the same here. Gary Contessa sends out two first-time starters—Siren’s Step who’s been working on turf lately, and Kisses from Karen whose juvenile stakes-winning dam Senita Lane has also produced Zip Quik who finished third in the Williard L. Proctor Memorial in his first outing (he was also a distant runner-up to D’Funnybone in the G2 Saratoga Special).
Race 5 (1 3/8 mile, Mdn 51k, 3yo+ f/m)
None of today’s entrants have travelled this far, but, closing well to finish second of 11 against open company last out, Dyani looks like she’ll relish the extra distance and, with turf maestro Julien Leparoux up, she’ll likely be favored. Another one to watch here with a jockey switch is Jimmy Jerkens’ Cocktail Hour, with red-hot Javier Castellano up—she is full-sister to the wonderful turfster Film Maker. The one I really like here is Jewelry who hasn’t shown much yet, but gets blinkers today for Ken McPeek. Her Brazilian family thrives at 10-12 furlongs, including her half-brother Art Variety who won the 10 furlong G1 Grande Premio Jockey Club Brasileiro and another half-brother Tiptronic who twice won the BRZ-G3 Grande Premio Derby Club going 17.5 furlongs (over 2 miles).
Race 7 (1 1/16 mile turf, Mdn 51k, 2yo)
Todd Pletcher sends out the only filly in the race, System Ready who finished well back in her first start on dirt; however, there is some turf in her family. Her dam’s half-sister Aunt Henny won the G3 Herecomesthebride going 1 1/8 mile on turf, while another half-sister produced G1 Frank E. Kilroe Mile victor Ever a Friend. Considering he’s from the same family as Rahy, Singspiel, Devil’s Bag and Saint Ballado—not to mention a son of Giant’s Causeway—you’d expect Rise to Glory to excel on turf for Bill Mott, although first-up may be tough. Yet his mother and half-brother both won in their first attempts on turf. Kiaran McLaughlin sends out first-time starter Legend of Navarone (by War Front) whose half-brother Song of Navarone won big (by 8 lengths) his first time out—but going six furlongs on dirt, not 8.5 furlongs on turf. His dam’s sole turf winner, Youthful Ambition, did so going 6.5 furlong on Santa Anita’s downhill turf course.