Evan Shipman morning-line favorite Friend Or Foe scratched just before the fifth race on the card, as trainer John Kimmel opted not to test the colt in poor conditions.
Rain came to Saratoga Race Course before the card opened, dropping the intervals between posts a few minutes in order to get the card in quicker. It also caused the quality of the main track to drop to sloppy and all the turf races to be taken off the grass after the second race.
“With the track as wet as it is, and with a horse who has never run on a wet track, I felt that if I was going to run him on a track this bad for the first time, it’d have to be for $750,000, not $75,000,” Kimmel said. “If he were to get hurt or something were to happen . . . I mean, it’s a meaningless race, as far as the purse goes. We don’t need to see if he can run in slop for $75,000.”
The Chester and Mary Broman homebred 4-year-old will wait until the track dries and put in a maintenance work, Kimmel said, but already is “a dead-fit horse, right now.”
Friend Or Foe will instead run Aug. 6 in the Grade I Whitney, which has a number of Grade I winners possible for the field — a bit of an upgrade from a New York-bred ungraded stakes.
“I think he stacks up well against anybody in the race,” Kimmel said. “I was hoping I could pass them by, let them all bang their heads around and come back in the Woodward with a good race under my belt. But now I’ve got to let him go prove it, right now.”
Trainer Tom Bush didn’t get to see an honest five-furlong workout by his 5-year-old Get Stormy, but saw enough to be pleased as the son of Stormy Atlantic points toward the same two races he won here last year.
One of Christophe Clement’s charges wiggled loose of his rider during the turf workouts on the Oklahoma Training Track, prompting the alarm and causing Get Stormy’s rider to pull him up near the end of his run, which he finished in 1:002⁄5 before the rains came, 10th best of 32 at that distance.
“Your turf is like a paved road, so I’m sure it’s going to yield fast times,” Bush said. “He worked comfortably, and he had to ease him up here in the last 20 or 30 yards because of the loose horse. We did the right thing. But, yeah, he worked just fine.”
Last year, Get Stormy won the Grade II Fourstardave by 11⁄4 lengths over Public Speaker on Aug. 1, then took the Grade II Bernard Baruch by 23⁄4 lengths over National Kid, running his usual out-front, wire-to-wire race in both. Bush said he hopes to send him to the Bernard Baruch again, but cautioned, “One race at a time.”
This year, he has won two Grade I races, the Maker’s Mark Mile at Keeneland and the Turf Classic at Churchill Downs, before finishing third in the Grade III Monmouth in his last.
“He had a great spring. Hopefully, he can keep that form going,” Bush said. “He’s done well, and he’s had a little break here between this race and the last. He usully runs well fresh, so hopefully, we’re ready to rumble.”
Clemente’s horse tried to jump the inner rail, but got about a quarter of the way there, his hooves crashing down on the rail and busting it apart and creating a path for him to the infield. He romped around the infield for a short time, staying near the rail and clear of the idle tractors, and was caught before any major havoc could be wrought.
BROWN DOES RAIN DANCE
Mechanicville native Chad Brown saddled a winner in the seventh race, Speight of Hand, who was a main-track-only entry. What was originally a mile on the turf turned into seven furlongs on the sloppy main track, and Speight of Hand ran off down the stretch.
At the Oklahoma Training Track for turf workouts in the morning, Brown eyed the clouds overhead with a hopeful eye.
“As long as it happened after turf training, I was OK with it,” Brown said. “Today was a good day for me. I got all my turf breezers in, and I got the MTO in. So I’ll remember this when I’m complaining next week over the weather.”
BY A NOSE
Trainer and Saratoga Springs resident Seth Benzel’s 3-year-old filly Joonbi opened Monday’s card with a photo-finish win over favorite and Bill Mott-trained World Harmony, breaking her maiden in her third try. She had finished second and third in her two races at Belmont.
“I knew Bill’s filly was going to be coming hard toward the end. I have a lot of respect for her,” Benzel said. “I thought it was just going to come down to who was the best at the line, but as you can see, it was a close call, and we were lucky enough to come out on top.”
Joonbi broke well with Fire Assay and Avolo, taking the inside route to lead. It was her first time under jockey John Velazquez after twice carrying Rajiv Maragh.
“First time on her. Johnny and I have a real good relationship,” Benzel said. “I know when it counts, when the money’s down, he’s going to be the best to have.”
AROUND THE TRACK
In preparation for a possible start in the Grade I Arlington Million on Aug. 13, Eclipse champion turf horse Gio Ponti breezed five furlongs in 59.22 on the Oklahoma Training Track’s turf, fourth fastest of 32 at that distance.
Wine Police breezed four furlongs in 51.88 on the main track for trainer Steve Asmussen, prepping for a possible start in the Grade II Amsterdam on Aug. 1. The 3-year-old colt won at first asking last year at Saratoga, then was third to Boys At Tosconova in the Grade I Hopeful. He then was idle until an allowance win at Churchill Downs on June 24. . . .
Chorus Music, who won the Irish Linnet on Sunday, is now pointing toward the Yaddo on Aug. 19, a 1 1/16-mile race over the turf for fillies.