SARATOGA SPRINGS -- New York-breds take the spotlight on the eve of Travers Day, as Saratoga Race Course will offer six stakes races worth purses totaling $1.25 million on New York Showcase Day Friday.
The stakes portion of the card will kick off in the third race with the $200,000 Fleet Indian for 3-year-old fillies at a mile and an eighth on the main track, followed by the Yaddo, Seeking the Ante, Funny Cide, West Point and $250,000 Albany, led by two colts who flirted with the Kentucky Derby trail, 5-2 morning-line favorite Not That Brady and Bankit.
Not That Brady was second by a head to Travers contender Tax in the Grade III Withers at Aqueduct and finished behind two other Travers horses, Tacitus and Looking At Bikinis, in the Grade II Wood Memorial and an optional claiming race, respectively.
Bankit, who was seventh in the Grade II Louisiana Derby, and Not That Brady were 1-2, respectively in the New York Derby at Finger Lakes.
The Chad Brown-trained Offering Plan is the 8-5 favorite in the West Point for horses 3 and up on the Inner Turf Course after finishing three lengths behind Mr Havercamp in the Grade III Forbidden Apple at Saratoga on July 12.
"He's doing super," Brown told the New York Racing Association. "He's been disappointing this year, and on paper it looks like he may have lost a step, but he does look good in his morning drills, so hopefully he can get back into form."
The West Point field also includes Voodoo Song, who is 0-for-2 at the meet after winning four races during the 2017 Saratoga meet, the first to accomplish that since Native Dancer in 1952. The 5-year-old Voodoo Song won the Grade I Fourstardave last year, but has finished off the board in both starts this meet, in the Lure and Forbidden Apple.
Therapist, who has beaten open stakes company, is the 5-2 second choice in the West Point.
Brown also has the even-money favorite in the Yaddo for fillies and mares at a mile and a sixteenth on the Inner, with Fifty Five, who was third by a neck in the Yaddo last year.
TURF WRITERS CUP
Winston C swept to the front after the final fence and completed a sweep of a different sort by winning the Grade I New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap steeplechase on Thursday's card.
Despite carrying 10 pounds more than his previous race, Winston C was the first horse to win both the Grade I A.P. Smithwick and Turf Writers Cup in the same year since Campanile did it in 1999.
He's trained by Hall of Famer Jonathan Sheppard, who had a streak of 47 straight years with at least one win at Saratoga end in 2016.
"It never gets old," Sheppard said. "Each race is a new challenge. He's a very superior horse, I think. We just have to keep his trainer from messing up, and we'll be in business.
"They were just a tad closer earlier this time. It was probably a little slower pace, and he was able to have some closer contact to the leaders."
"I had a very willing partner," jockey Thomas Garner said. "The horse did everything right. I couldn't put him wrong, really. He's such an honest, classy little horse.
"It took a little pressure off, winning the Smithwick, but it added a bit more pressure. It's definitely something I have enjoyed, especially winning the two, but it was all done by the horse. I was just a passenger."
On a day with multiple photo finishes, the brothers Irad and Jose Ortiz were separated by a head on their mounts in the $100,000 Riskaverse, with Irad's Catch a Bid prevailing over Jose's Dalika.
Catch a Bid was sent off as the 4-5 betting favorite in just his third career start, but it was the 20-1 Dalika who led most of the way until those two got in a head-bobbing duel near the wire.
Catch a Bid gained a little bit of daylight two strides from the wire to give Brown his meet-leading 27th victory of the meet.