Twelve-time Saratoga training champion Todd Pletcher earned his first victory of the summer meet in impressive fashion Saturday when KRA Stud Farm's Mr. Crow went gate-to-wire to break his maiden by 11 ½ lengths.
It was the second start for the 3-year-old bay Tapizar colt, beaten a neck in his unveiling June 24 at Belmont Park, a race where he broke poorly from his outside post and came with a late rally but fell a neck short at odds of 11-1.
He had no such trouble second time out, drawing the rail and breaking alertly to set splits of 22.97, 45.90 and 57.84 seconds before hitting the wire in 1:09.64 for six furlongs over a fast main track.
“I wasn't sure if he'd be on the lead yesterday. We were thinking he'd have an improved break, which compromised his chances first time out,” Pletcher said. “He seemed to break much sharper yesterday and didn't have to be used hard to do that. He's a pretty naturally fast horse.”
Pletcher said he has yet to settle on the next start for Mr. Crow, a $150,000 purchase at Ocala's 2-year-old in training sale in March.
“We'll just see how he comes out of it and how he trains and decide,” he said. “He's still got a lot of allowance conditions left, so we'll look around.”
Pletcher said he was pleased with the way Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming exited his five-furlong work in 1:01.71 over the Oklahoma training track Saturday morning, his final breeze before the Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy July 29.
“Excellent,” he said. “Everything's gone according to plan. He's had a couple of good breezes up here, so I think we're all set.”
Among Pletcher's workers Sunday were stakes winner Syndergaard and multiple graded stakes-placed Neolithic, who breezed five furlongs together in 1:00.10 on the Oklahoma, the fastest of eight horses at the distance.
Pletcher is undecided on the next spots for both horses. Syndergaard, winner of the Funny Cide last summer at Saratoga and second in the Grade 1 Champagne, is 0-for-2 this year, most recently finishing second in the May 29 Mike Lee at Finger Lakes against fellow New York-breds.
Neolithic has had four breezes since late June at Saratoga for his return. He finished third to Arrogate in his only two starts this year, the Grade 1, $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational January 28 at Gulfstream Park and the Group 1, $10 million Dubai World Cup March 28 at Meydan – banking $1 million in purse earnings for each race.
“I thought they both looked good this morning,” Pletcher said. “They've been up here for a little while. Neolithic went to WinStar for a little freshening after he came back from Dubai, and once he came into full training he came here and is doing well.”
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