Jockey Joel Rosario is going to have his work cut out for him when he leaves the second stall of the gate in today’s Grade I $500,000 King’s Bishop.
He’ll be riding the 5-2 morning-line favorite, Forty Tales, who he has ridden to three straight victories, all coming from off the pace and all by less than a length at the wire. But when the gate opens this time, he’ll have seven furlongs to make his way through a field of 14 3-year-old sprinters.
“In this type of race, where you’re going to have a lot of speed and you’re going to have a lot of closers, horses in the middle, it’s really going to be a trip race,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “With that size of race, with a horse that comes from off the pace, you’re going to need to get lucky and get a good trip. Joel knows the horse well; he’s ridden him all three times. He has a good rapport with him. But yeah, I think this is one of those situations where you need a little bit of racing luck.”
Pletcher has three horses in the field, including Capo Bastone in post position 3 and Overanalyze in post 9.
Forty Tales, though, is the one to watch after wins in the Grade III Derby Trial at Churchill Downs, Grade II Woody Stephens at Belmont Park and most recently at Saratoga in the Grade II Amsterdam on July 28.
He won the Derby Trial by a neck, then the next two races by three-quarters of a length. Though his rallying style may make some bettors nervous as he finds a way to just get there in time, Pletcher said he’s become comfortable with it.
“I thought in the Derby Trial, he was certainly getting there, and in the Amsterdam,” he said. “I wasn’t as positive watching the Woody Stephens, until he got past the sixteenth pole. It looks like he’s found his niche, a come-from-behind sprinter, so when you have those types, you’re relying on a good pace up front and a clean trip. They haven’t been so close that they’ve been absolutely gut-wrenching, but yeah, he makes you think about it for a little bit.”
Forty Tales, a son of Tale of the Cat, is 5-1-0 from seven lifetime starts and is 1-1-0 in three starts at this distance.
The second choice is 5-1 Declan’s Warrior, trained by Nick Zito and ridden by John Velazquez, who was fifth in the Amsterdam and second in the Woody Stephens. Before that, he had been 4-1-0 in his first five starts, including a win in the seven-furlong Grade III Bay Shore at Aqueduct in April.
Let Em Shine, trained by Adam Kichingman and ridden by Mike Smith, is the 6-1 third choice. He was fourth in the Woody Stephens, his first graded-stakes start. Before that, he was 3-0-1 in four starts, all in California.
Overanalyze is a Repole Stable horse who hasn’t run this short a race since the Grade II Futurity at Belmont last September. He won that at six furlongs after finishing fourth here in the seven-furlong Grade II Hopeful. Earlier in that meet, he broke his maiden first time out at five furlongs.
Since stretching out, he won the Grade II Remsen and the Grade I Arkansas Derby, both at 1 1⁄8 miles. He was way back in the Kentucky Derby (11th) and Belmont (seventh).
“I thought he ran really well in his first start here as a 2-year-old, going five, and when he won the Futurity from off the pace, that was a very good effort,” Pletcher said. “We’re just trying to rekindle his top form and thought, rather than going another long race, mixing it up a little bit and shortening it up might be the answer. We envision he might be a little off the pace and, like Forty Tales, hopefully be able to maneuver a trip.”
Of the three Pletcher entries, Overanalyze was most fortunate in the draw.
“I think he’s a horse that doesn’t mind being outside, so that’s good for him,” Pletcher said. “The thing with all three horses, they’re likely to be coming from off the pace, so we’ll just have to see if they can maneuver a way through.”
With Capo Bastone, who was second by a neck to Forty Tales in the Derby Trial and third to Shanghai Bobby in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, Pletcher figures it’s time to take a shot at another big Grade I. He was fourth last fall in the Del Mar Futurity and third in the Front Runner, both Grade I races.
“He’s a horse that’s shown some quality, at times,” he said. “We’ve been very pleased with the way the horse is training. He breezed in company with Verrazano [who is running in the Travers] on Sunday, and he seems to be in really good form at the moment.”
A few recent Saratoga winners also grace the field, including Slan Abhaile (allowance race), Majestic Hussar (optional claimer), Miraculousmo (maiden special weight) and Central Banker (the Quick Call).