Race 2 at Saratoga on Sunday features NY-bred 2-year-old fillies, and imagine my surprise to see Leroy Jolley listed as the trainer of Lady Samuri. The 74-year-old Hall-of-Famer hasn’t started a horse since June 30 of last year, so it’s nice to see him back on the track. While it seems unlikely that he’ll do it, Jolley is only 10 wins away from 1000 career victories. Still, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get one with Lady Samuri—she’s worked very well in advance of this first start, and gets Jose Lezcano aboard. She is very closely related to Le Mi Geaux who was quite precocious, winning last year’s sloppy G3 Schuylerville off a maiden victory at Churchill Downs; Lady Samuri is a half-sister to Le Mi Geaux’s dam, and both are out of First Samurai.
Not that she seems to have a shot-in-hell of winning, but the second dam of Goldie’s Reward (Grand Reward) is the unraced Foolish Pleasure mare Plenty Papaya; George Weaver sends her out with John Velazquez aboard, which is a good combination. Still, think her future lies on turf, but wouldn't she and Lady Samuri make a sentimental exacta?
The likely post-time favorite is Erin Enchanted (Lion Heart) who’s already placed in both her starts (her dam actually won her maiden start at 2), but Shesabronxbomber (Afleet Alex) looks more interesting with trainer Larry Rivelli adding blinkers—her dam’s half-brother Cashel Castle was a dynamic juvenile. Also extremely interested in Tom Bush’s first-time starter Beautiful But Blue (El Corredor), as her dam Beautiful America not only crushed her juvenile maiden, but also went on to win three straight juvenile stakes, including the Maid of the Mist and NY Stallion Fifth Avenue Stakes.
Race 4—a juvenile $50k maiden claiming race over 5.5 furlongs—features the debut of Afleet Bandit (Afleet Alex) for D. Wayne Lukas; he’s a half-brother of Better Talk Now, which most definitely doesn’t scream precocious. Considering he was a $120k Keeneland purchase last September, dropping him first-out for $50k doesn’t bode well for him either. The Michael Hushion entry Moreforyourmoney (Value Plus) does look interesting; both of his half-sisters won first-out, in juvenile maiden claimers, and he looks to be working well in advance of this start.