SARATOGA SPRINGS — In the early spring, trainer Chad Brown had two Klaravich Stables colts pointing toward the Triple Crown trail.
They both wound up in the Grade II Wood Memorial on April 3, then the Preakness on May 15, and there they were together again on Saturday, breezing four furlongs side-by-side on the main track at Saratoga Race Course.
Only one is ready to get back to the races for the first time since the Preakness, though, and that’s Risk Taking, who will run in the Grade II Jim Dandy on Saturday looking to regain the form he showed in winning the Grade III Withers in February.
He breezed four furlongs in 48.65, the 28th fastest of 113 works at that distance on Saturday, with Crowded Trade just behind in 48.74.
“He worked fine,” Brown said. “He’s on target for the Jim Dandy, and he’s been doing real well since he settled in up here. He’s coming off a couple races that are disappointing, so we got got him up to Saratoga early, and he’s settled in real well.”
Crowded Trade actually performed better than Risk Taking in both the Wood and the Preakness, and he was nominated to the Curlin on Friday, but he won’t run there and Brown said he isn’t sure what the next step is, race-wise.
Risk Taking was seventh in the Wood, while Crowded Trade hung on for third as 72-1 Bourbonic roared down the middle of the track to pass Dynamic One for the victory.
In the Preakness, Risk Taking never got in the game and tired to eighth in the 10-horse field, 23 1/2 lengths behind Rombauer, while Crowded Trade chased the pace from the middle of the pack and never was a threat, finishing fifth, 12 1/4 lengths back.
They both have been training at Saratoga since the beginning of June, and Risk Taking hasn’t missed a week of breezing on the main track, which was opened up much earlier than usual while the Oklahoma Training Track was being renovated.
“We just wanted to freshen him up off the two poor races,” Brown said. “We’re looking to hit the reset button, so to speak, and that was really the objective of getting him up here early. He’s really training well, so I don’t have any excuses going into the race. Just want to see him get a good accounting of himself. I know it’s a tough race.”
Besides Risk Taking, the Jim Dandy field is expected to include Belmont Stakes winner Essential Quality, Dr Jack, Keepmeinmind, Masqueparade and Weyburn.
The feature on Wednesday is the Grade II Honorable Miss, at six furlongs for fillies and mares 3 and up, and Bell’s the One’s eight rivals will face a stiff challenge to beat her.
She’s a multiple grade stakes winner, including the Grade I Derby City Distaff at Churchill Downs in September leading up to a third behind Gamine and Serengeti Empress in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.
This season, she was second in the Grade I Madison and fourth behind Gamine, Sconsin and Estilo Talentoso in the Derby City, then got back on the winning track in the ungraded Roxelana at Churchill on June 19.
She’s 4-for-4 lifetime at six furlongs, a distance she hasn’t run since the Grade III Winning Colors in May of last year.
“I’m really not scared of any sprint filly in the country right now, to be honest,” trainer Neil Pessin told the New York Racing Association. “It’s just a question of if she runs her race. If she does, she’s going to be tough to beat no matter who shows up. I respect them all, but I don’t fear any of them. I’m very confident in my filly’s abilities.”
Wednesday’s card also includes the Cab Calloway division of the New York Stallion Series, for 3-year-olds at a mile on the Inner Turf.
Ocala Dream comes into the race having won two straight, most recently the Spectacular Bid division of the NYSS at Belmont Park.
“The nice thing about Wednesday is that we’ve already gone two turns, and he’s run well here going two turns before,” trainer Tom Morley said. “”He’s a very cool customer. He’ll put himself in a good position.”
Ocala Dream was a close fourth in a mile-and-a-sixteenth maiden race at Saratoga last summer.
The Jonathan Kiser Novice steeplechase, canceled last Wednesday because of wet weather, will kick off this Wednesday’s card.
The seventh race is a stakes-caliber allowance for fillies and mares 3 and up going a mile and a sixteenth on the Inner.
The field includes the Brown-trained Tamahere, last seen finishing ninth in the Grade I Just a Game behind Althiqa and Summer Romance, who came back to finish 1-2 again in the Grade I Diana on Saratoga opening weekend.
Two-time graded stakes winner Sweet Melania, who holds the distinction of being the first offspring of 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah to win at Saratoga, is also in the field, with two off-the-board races to show for the 2021 season so far.
Besides her maiden win in 2019, her Saratoga history includes a second by a neck in the P.G. Johnson that year and a second by a nose to Selflessly in the Grade III Lake George last year.
AROUND THE TRACK
The Aug. 21 Alabama likely will feature a rematch between Maracuja, trained by Rob Atras, and Malathaat (Todd Pletcher).
Both trainers said Sunday morning that that would be the next goal, after Maracuja got past Malathaat by a head in the Coaching Club American Oaks on Saturday. …
Pletcher said undefeated Life Is Good, who breezed at Saratoga for the first time on Saturday, will target either the Grade I Allen Jerkens at Saratoga on Aug. 28 or the Grade III Smarty Jones at Parx on Aug. 24.
Life Is Good was transferred to Pletcher from Bob Baffert’s barn in June.
The colt was considered a major player for the Triple Crown races after winning the Grade III Sham, beating Medina Spirit in the process, and the Grade II San Felipe, but then he was sidelined with an ankle chip. The Baffert-trained Medina Spirit went on to win the Kentucky Derby, a result that is still pending after Medina Spirit failed a post-race drug test.
Life Is Good breezed four furlongs in 48.88 on the Oklahoma Training Track. He had been training at Keeneland.
“He’s a very impressive horse to watch train,” Pletcher said. “He did that well in hand throughout. “He’s a super talented horse and we’re fortunate to have him.”
Voting for the Mike Venezia Memorial Award will be conducted by jockeys instead of fans this year.
The finalists include Junior Alvarado, Julien Leparoux, Deshawn Parker, Gerard Melancon and Scott Stevens.
Created in 1989, the Mike Venezia Memorial Award is awarded to a jockey who displays the extraordinary sportsmanship and citizenship that personified Venezia, who died as the result of injuries suffered in a spill in 1988. Venezia, a native of Brooklyn, won more than 2,300 races during his 25-year career.
The competition was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.