Funny tweet on the Princess of Sylmar Twitter account @Princess_Sylmar on Friday:
“Following LeBron’s lead, I’m going to come home too . . . And race in the Mid-Atlantic region tomorrow.”
Saratoga Race Course is Schenectady native Ed Stanco’s hometown track, but Delaware Park is his adoptive one.
That makes today’s Grade I Delaware Handicap extra special, as the Todd Pletcher-trained Princess of Sylmar takes on five rivals 30 miles from where she was born, Sylmar Farm in Pennsylvania.
Stanco and his family moved to the area in 1987, and it wasn’t long before they were making trips to the Wilmington, Del., track not far from Philadelphia.
Stanco was there for all four of Pletcher’s Del Cap wins, with Life at Ten (2010), Unbridled Belle (2007), Fleet Indian (2006) and Irving’s Baby (2001).
“Ramon Dominguez rode Irving’s Baby, and after he won, he flipped his goggles to my son, and those goggles are still sitting on the bookcase, so we’ve got a lot of connections to that race,” Ed Stanco said on Friday.
Princess of Sylmar is racing for the first time since finishing second to Close Hatches in the Ogden Phipps at Belmont Park, with an eye on the Personal Ensign at Saratoga on Aug. 22.
As the class of the field, she’s the even-money favorite on the morning line, but faces two who appear to be on the rise — Molly Morgan and Flashy American, who were 1-2 in the Grade II Fleur de Lis at Churchill Downs.
“Part of the puzzle in this race is all pressers or closers except for Belle Gallantey,” Stanco said. “Could she run away from the field? That could be a dynamic of the race, and Flashy American and Molly Morgan are no slouches.”
Unlike last year, when Princess of Sylmar kept to a busy schedule that included four straight Grade I wins, she will be managed more selectively this year, Stanco said.
Despite Princess of Sylmar’s poor showing in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Santa Anita, where she was last of six behind Beholder, Stanco said they’ll go back to Santa Anita for the Breeders’ Cup, as long as she’s fit and healthy in the fall.
She’s on the verge of hitting $2 million in career earnings.
“The plan is in to contrast to last year, when she had to race the entire season,” Stanco said. “We targeted the Kentucky Oaks and Alabama. This year, we’re not going to push her as much, and take our time so she keeps her strength in the second half. She’s held her weight, and she likes to run, so we feel like she’s back at the level we saw last year.”
The annual Saratoga preview panel discussion will take place at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame on Union Avenue in Saratoga Springs.
The panelists will be former jockey Richard Migliore, Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard, West Point Thoroughbreds president and founder Terry Finley and New York Racing Association president Chris Kay and vice president of racing operations Martin Panza.
The program is free and open to the public.
The annual Saratoga Race Course open house will take place on Sunday from 9:30 a.m.-4:30 a.m.
HERE AND THERE
Grandeur is the 6-5 favorite in the final graded stakes of the Belmont Park spring/summer meet, today’s Grade II Bowling Green for older horses at a mile and a half on the turf.
Trained by Jeremy Noseda, Grandeur was third to Imagining in the Grade I Man o’ War and fourth to Real Solution in the Grade I Manhattan since returning to the U.S. from Europe. . . .
Two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan had his first timed breeze since colic surgery on Friday, when he went four furlongs in 50.40 on the Keeneland turf course.
Trainer Charlie LoPresti said that if all goes well, Wise Dan, who will ship to Saratoga on Sunday, could be on schedule to race in the Fourstardave on Aug. 9, which he has won the last two years. . . .
Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens will take six months off for knee replacement surgery, but the 51-year-old said he plans to return to riding. . . .
Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome is set to return to Los Alamitos on Thursday from an extended layoff after his Triple Crown bid ended in defeat to Tonalist in the Belmont Stakes.
The colt has been taking time off at Harris Farms in Coalinga, Calif.
California Chrome’s first race since the Belmont on June 7 could come in September at Los Alamitos, his home track in Orange County. Trainer Art Sherman has said California Chrome is ultimately being pointed toward the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 1 at Santa Anita.