Saratoga Springs

Speedball Shancelot right back in Allen Jerkens

Colt blew away the field in the Amsterdam; is 1-2 favorite in the Grade I Allen Jerkens
Shancelot leaves the field behind by 12 1/2 lengths in the Amsterdam on July 28.
Shancelot leaves the field behind by 12 1/2 lengths in the Amsterdam on July 28.

Categories: Sports

SARATOGA SPRINGS — If the New York Racing Association’s David Aragona faced any challenges making a morning line and choosing favorites for the Travers Day card, the Allen Jerkens was no such puzzle.

The field for the Grade I seven-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds includes Shancelot, and he was so convincing in winning the Grade III Amsterdam at Saratoga Race Course on July 28, it couldn’t have taken much effort to make him 1-2 for the Allen Jerkens.

After breaking from the outside post in a 12-horse field for the Amsterdam, Shancelot will break from the rail against eight rivals in the Allen Jerkens and, if he duplicates his Amsterdam, this race will be over quickly.

Ridden by Emisael Jaramillo and trained by the Monmouth Park-based Jorge Navarro, Shancelot didn’t break a track record for 6 1/2 furlongs, but did run faster through six than Imperial Hint did the day before while breaking a track record in the six-furlong Grade I Alfred G. Vanderbilt.

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Imperial Hint’s final time was 1:07.92; Shancelot covered the same ground in 1:07.63 on his way to a 12 1/2-length victory that produced the fastest Beyer Speed Figure (121) at any distance in North America so far in 2019.

“I will never see that again,” Navarro told NYRA. “The last time I saw something like that was Secretariat. I will be lucky if he runs like that again. I knew he was good, but I didn’t expect anything that amazing.”

The Travers undercard will include six stakes worth a total of $3.55 million in purses. Five of those are Grade I, and the Ballston Spa is a Grade II.

The stakes will start with the seven-furlong Forego, where Mitole will try to rebound from a third-place finish in the Vanderbilt, and the Personal Ensign for fillies and mares on the dirt offers perhaps the best matchup of the day, between Midnight Bisou and Elate.

Trainer Chad Brown, besides saddling Highest Honors and Looking At Bikinis in the $1.25 million Travers, will be well-represented in the turf stakes, with three horses in both the Ballston Spa and Sword Dancer.

He’s got the 5-2 favorite, Annals of Time, in what appears to be a well-balanced field for the Sword Dancer. Annals of Time is a Grade I winner, but has raced just three times since 2017, all in optional claiming races.

“A mile-and-a-half will be a test for him,” Brown told NYRA. “He’s never run in a three-turn race before. I’d prefer there to be some pace in the race, but he has a really good turn of foot and he’s going to need to.”

The field also includes Grade II Bowling Green winner Channel Cat from the barn of Todd Pletcher, Grade I Man o’ War winner Channel Maker and Sadler’s Joy, who won the Sword Dancer in 2017 but finished sixth last year.

“I think he’s consistent with a lot of English Channels,” Pletcher said of Channel Cat. “He had some success at 2 and 3, but he really improved at 4, and I think he will continue to improve. And this is a horse we’ve always liked. I kind of called him as a 2-year-old our sleeper horse that would hopefully develop into a top-class older horse, and he’s right on the verge of that.”

Brown’s prospects in the Ballston Spa include Mascha, Significant Form and the New York-bred Fifty Five.

Brown said he had been pointing his star filly Rushing Fall toward the Ballston Spa, but held her out after a sub-par workout.

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Mascha, who had raced in Europe last year, won a good allowance at Saratoga on July 21 in her North American debut.

“She’s an exciting prospect,” Brown said. “I think she’s earned the right to step up in this Grade II race.”

Come Dancing is the 6-5 favorite for trainer Carlos Martin in the seven-furlong Ballerina on the main track. She cuts back in distance after finishing second to Midnight Bisou in the Grade I Ogden Phipps at a one-turn mile-and-a-sixteenth at Belmont Park on June 8.

Brown has 9-5 Separationofpowers, who won the Test as a 3-year-old at Saratoga last year.

Reach Gazette Sportswriter Mike MacAdam at 518-395-3146 or [email protected]. Follow on Twitter @Mike_MacAdam.

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