August Dawn Farm's Tuggle will hope for a smooth trip in Saturday's Grade 3, $200,000 Pilgrim Stakes, a 1 1/16-mile turf test for juveniles at Belmont Park.
Trainer Jeremiah Englehart captured the 2018 Pilgrim for the same connections with Forty Under, who went on to finish sixth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf. The veteran conditioner is enjoying a strong 2019 campaign with 12 stakes wins, including four with juveniles, led by multiple stakes-winner My Italian Rabbi.
“We've had a good year and the biggest thing now, after they break their maiden, is getting them into stakes categories and hoping they continue to improve as they make that jump to the next level,” said Englehart.
Englehart said a good result on Saturday could propel Tuggle to a spot in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf.
“That's the path we took last year with Forty Under and he was one of the choices in the Breeders' Cup,” said Englehart. “I'd love to see him win this race and head there.”
Tuggle graduated impressively at first asking on June 21 in an off-the-turf maiden sprint, splashing home on a sloppy Big Sandy to a 1 3/4-length score over next-out winner Montauk Daddy.
Tuggle, a Kentucky-bred Point of Entry bay purchased for $160,000 at the 2018 Fasig-Tipton New York Saratoga Select Yearling Sale, was part of a rapid pace next out in the G2 Saratoga Special, but stayed on strong to finish third in the 6 1/2-furlong main-track sprint.
Last out, on Aug. 28 at the Spa, Tuggle finally got to the grass in the G3 With Anticipation only to endure a difficult trip in the 1 1/16-mile inner turf test.
Leaving from the inside post in the six-horse field, Tuggle was racing inside of Pilgrim rival Andesite heading into the first turn when headstrong Pilgrim rival Our Country surged up the hedge to his inside nearly clipping heels with Fly Fly Away. Both Our Country and Tuggle steadied as Andesite was carried wide through the eventful first turn.
“I'm drawing a line through that last race,” said Englehart. “I'm trying to keep everything the same going into this race and try to learn something about him. I was a little leery about how fast he might go early on last time coming out of sprint races.
“The biggest thing is keeping everything the same,” he continued. “Whether it was the competition or the distance of the race…I just want to learn something and let him go out and run his race this time.”
The well-bred Tuggle boasts strong family lines with the second, third and fourth dam all producing multiple Grade 1-winners. His second dam, Dancinginmydreams, produced Dancing Forever, who captured the 2008 G1 Woodford Reserve Manhattan at 1 1/4-miles on the Belmont green.
“We always felt he would lean towards turf, but a lot of these Point of Entry horses have been able to do whatever you ask of them,” said Englehart.
Tuggle has trained forwardly out of his With Anticipation effort and Englehart said the 1 1/16-miles should suit the improving colt.
“He's training well. I've been real happy with how he's been coming into this race,” said Englehart. “I think the distance should be fine for him. Obviously, you never know until they do it, but the biggest thing for me was just not changing anything from his last start.”
Jose Lezcano will pilot Tuggle for the first time when they break from the inside post.
R. A. Hill Stable and Gatsas Stables' Our Country has endured troubled trips in two of his three starts, all at 1 1/16-miles on the Saratoga turf. First out on July 13, the bay son of Constitution was pinched at the break finishing a troubled fourth in a key maiden event that runner-up Decorated Invader exited to win a pair of races, including the G1 Summer at Woodbine.
On August 3, Our Country rallied from fifth to graduate impressively by 5 3/4-lengths ahead of his difficult With Anticipation where he stumbled at the start and was rank. Manny Franco retains the mount from post six.
Kent Spellman and Madaket Stables' Andesite, a grey son of The Factor, graduated at first asking over next-out winner Nano in a 7 1/2-furlong turf maiden at Indiana Grand ahead of his troubled third last out in the With Anticipation. Purchased for $90,000 at the March 2019 OBS 2-Year-Olds-In-Training Sale, Andesite is a half-brother to multiple graded-stakes winner Ahh Chocolate.
Hall of Famer Javier Castellano has the call from post three.
Tobey Morton's Famished has trained forwardly at Belmont in advance of his turf debut. Conditioned by John Kimmel, the bay Uncle Mo colt, bred in Ontario by Michael C. Byrne, graduated at second asking on Aug. 31 at the Spa.
Famished has trained twice on the Belmont turf following his maiden score, working in company with stablemate Crystalle, who captured the P.G. Johnson on August 29 at Saratoga.
Joel Rosario retains the mount from post eight.
Wertheimer and Frere's No Word, a dark bay son of Silent Name, earned a field-best 77 Beyer Speed Figure on debut when besting a field of seven by 2 1/4-lengths in a 1 1/16-mile turf route.
No Word, out of the A.P. Indy dam Listen A.P., is a full brother to multiple graded-stakes winner Silentio. He will emerge from post 2 under Jose Ortiz.
Jeff Drown and Don Rachel's Structor earned a 60 Beyer in his winning turf debut on Aug. 31 at the Spa. Trained by three-time Eclipse Award-winner Chad Brown, the Palace Malice bay was purchased for $850,000 at the March 2019 OBS 2-Year-Olds-In-Training Sale. Irad Ortiz, Jr. will guide Structor from post seven.
Rounding out the field are No Lime (Junior Alvarado, post four), Maxwell Esquire (Dylan Davis, post five), and The Gray Blur (Kendrick Carmouche, post nine).
America's Day at the Races will present live national television coverage of Jockey Club Gold Cup Day at Belmont, which also features the Grade 2, $300,000 Beldame, from 2:30-6:30 p.m. on FS2 with regional coverage airing on MSG Networks from 3:30-6:30 p.m.
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