Woodslane Farm's $2-million earner Sadler's Joy makes his seasonal debut in a contentious renewal of Saturday's Grade 2, $250,000 Bowling Green, a 1 3/8-mile test for 4-year-olds and up on the inner turf at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
Trained by Tom Albertrani, Sadler's Joy rallied last-of-13 to third in the Breeders' Cup Turf last out on November 3 at Churchill. The 6-year-old son of Kitten's Joy will make his third appearance in the Bowling Green, having finished third, defeated a half-length, the past two years.
Albertrani said Sadler's Joy has trained well since arriving at Saratoga, where the chestnut boasts a record of two wins and two thirds from six starts.
“He's doing great. He's training really well coming into this race,” said Albertrani. “It's been a long lay up, but it was always our intention to give him a little break after the Breeders' Cup and not run at Gulfstream Park and try to have him ready for the Manhattan. We hit a couple of minor hiccups along the way, but now we're here and he's doing good. We hope to have a good summer and fall campaign with him.”
Sadler's Joy graduated over the Saratoga turf in August 2016 and won the Grade 1 Sword Dancer here with a last-to-first rush in 2017.
“He does really well here. Since we got up here he's been happy and training good,” said Albertrani. “It seems like he's ready to go and put in a good effort as always. He's run some really good races here.”
Sadler's Joy is likely to follow a familiar path towards the 2019 Breeders' Cup Turf with dates penciled in for the Grade 1, $850,000 Sword Dancer on August 24 at the Spa, and the Grade 1, $500,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic on October 5 at Belmont Park, both offering a “Win & You're In” qualification.
Hall of Famer Javier Castellano, who retains the mount from post 2, will be charged with finding a winning path.
“With his running style, he has to find a way to save ground in a big field and sometimes it's hard to do,” said Albertrani. “He's out the back in most of his races, so hopefully we can save some ground and not circle the whole field and come with that big run of his like always.”
Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott will saddle a pair of contenders in multiple Grade 1-winner Channel Maker and Red Knight.
Wachtel Stable, Gary Barber, R. A. Hill Stable and Reeves Thoroughbred Racing's Channel Maker, bred in Ontario by the Tall Oaks Farm of Ivan Dalos, captured the 2018 renewal of the Bowling Green in a dead heat with Glorious Empire.
“Everything's been great. No complaints, he's training well,” Mott said of Channel Maker. “If everything is OK, naturally, we'd like to go to the Sword Dancer. ”
The English Channel chestnut boasts a record of 5-4-3 from 25 career starts with purse earnings of $1,982,108, including a score in Grade 1 Man o' War on May 11 at Belmont in the third start of his 2019 campaign.
Joel Rosario retains the mount from post 5.
Trinity Farm homebred Red Knight, a 5-year-old son of Pure Prize, has won 6-of-13 starts highlighted by a score in the two-mile H. Allen Jerkens in December at Gulfstream Park. The New York-bred chestnut finished second in the Grade 2 Elkhorn at Keeneland in April and was a last out fifth in the Grade 2 Belmont Gold Cup.
Julien Leparoux will guide Red Knight for the first time from post 9.
Donegal Racing, Joseph Bulger, and Peter Coneway's Arklow, trained by Brad Cox, will look to make his third start of the campaign a winning one after two narrow neck defeats in the Man o' War and Grade 2 Belmont Gold Cup.
The 5-year-old son of Arch has banked $1,283,382 in a 20-race career that includes five wins, five seconds and one third. The multiple graded-stakes winner captured the 2017 Grade 2 American Turf at Churchill Downs and last year added the Grade 3 Kentucky Turf Cup at Kentucky Downs to his ledger.
Florent Geroux will ride Arklow from the inside post.
Three-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown sends out a trio of Bowling Green contenders in Focus Group, Olympico and Ya Primo.
Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence's Focus Group, a 5-year-old dark bay son of Kitten's Joy, finished third in the Grade 1 Canadian International in October at Woodbine to complete his 2018 campaign.
After winning the Grade 2 Pan American by a nose at Gulfstream in his seasonal debut, Focus Group has finished off the board in both the Man o' War and Grade 1 United Nations.
Irad Ortiz, Jr. has the call on Focus Group from post 12.
French-bred Olympico, owned by Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables, Wonder Stables and Bethlehem Stables, captured the Grade 3 Fort Marcy in May at Belmont Park in his North American debut.
The 4-year-old Rajasman grey finished seventh last out in the Grade 1 Manhattan. Hall of Famer John Velazquez takes over aboard Olympico from post 11.
Madaket Stables, Don Alberto Stable and Wonder Stables' Ya Primo, will make his North American debut in the Bowling Green. The Chilean-bred son of Mastercraftsman won the Group 1 Latinoamericano in March in his native country.
Jose Ortiz will pilot the 4-year-old bay from post 3.
Rounding out a competitive field is Catcho En Die [Post 4, Eric Cancel], Highland Sky [Post 6, Manny Franco], Argonne [Post 7, Junior Alvarado], Zulu Alpha [Post 8, Jose Lezcano], Channel Cat [Post 10, Luis Saez] and Bigger Picture [Post 13, Tyler Gaffalione].
The Bowling Green is slated as Race 10 on Saturday's 12-race card which also includes the Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy presented by NYRA Bets in Race 11 and the Grade 1, $350,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt in Race 9. First post is 1 p.m.
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