Saratoga Special: Betting on a Big Haul from Pletcher 2-Year-Old

Emerging 2-Year-Old Talents Trained by Legends Set to Shine in $200,000 Saratoga Special (G2) Ahead of Kentucky Derby Journey

A trio of 2-year-olds trained by Hall of Famers could be taking an early step onto the long road to the Kentucky Derby in Saturday’s $200,000 Saratoga Special (G2).

The 6 1/2-furlong test drew a field of six, including Todd Pletcher-trained Haul (3-1) Steve Asmussen-trained Edified (7-2), and D. Wayne Lukas-trained Market Street (10-1).

Haul, a $260,00 purchase at the Ocala Breeders’ spring sale in April, won in his debut going 5 ½ furlongs at Belmont on July 9, racing in second places and taking charge in the stretch to win by three lengths. Irad Ortiz, Jr., the Spa’s leading rider, has the call again leaving from post 4.

“This has been the plan since the maiden win,” Pletcher said of the Army Mule colt owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and St. Elias Stable. ‘’I don’t know if he is a mile-and-a-quarter horse (Derby distance), per se, but I don’t see him having trouble with 6 ½.’’

Edified was a 3 ½-length winner at Ellis Park in his debut in July at 9-1 odds. Owned by Courtlandt Farms, the son of champion sire Tapit was a $650,000 Keeneland September yearling sale purchase.

Joel Rosario will ride again leaving from post 5.

The more-seasoned Market Street won in his debut at Ellis Park on June 29, and ran sixth in the Sanford (G3) at the Spa on July 15. The son of Street Sense was purchased by owner Les Wagner for $250,000 at the Keeneland September yearling sale.

The favorite though, is Rhyme Schemes, the 4-5 morning-line choice. The chestnut son of Ghostzapper ran sixth in his debut back in May but won at 5 ½ furlongs by 9 ½ lengths at Ellis Park next out on June 15.

“We went in with a new game plan this year. The 2-year-olds that arrived early, we weren’t going to crank them up,” trainer Norm Casse said. “He ran a sneaky good race on debut, and he came back, and we knew he was ready for his second start, and he ran really impressively that day.”

As for how the Special sets up, Casse said: “I don’t think he has any boxes he has to check to run a good race. He can be wherever he wants to be and hopefully he’s talented enough to win.”

Rhyme Schemes will be ridden again by Ricardo Santana, Jr., out of post 6.

The Saratoga Special was first run in 1901, and winners who went on to capture the Derby include Regret, Whirlaway, Bold Forbes, and Swale. Other champions to win the Special include Native Dancer, Dehere, Favorite Trick, Conquistador Cielo, Chief’s Crown, Summer Squall, Union Rags, Exaggerator, and Gunnevera.

Rounding out a talented field are maiden winners Lasso [post 1, Edgard Zayas] for trainer Juan Alvarado; and Market Street [post 2, Jaime Torres] for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

The picks: 1 Haul 2 Market Street 3 Rhyme Schemes

 The field for the $200,000 Saratoga Special, from the rail out, with jockey, trainer, odds:

1 Lasso (Edgard Zayas, Juan Alvarado), 15-1
2 Market Street (Jaime Torres, D. Wayne Lukas), 10-1
3 Woodcourt (Jose Ortiz, Brendan Walsh), 10-1
4 Haul (Irad Ortiz, Jr., Todd Pletcher), 3-1
5 Edified (Joel Rosario, Steve Asmussen), 7-2
6 Rhyme Schemes (Ricard Santana, Jr., Norm Casse), 4-5

The Saratoga Special is slated as Race 8 on Saturday’s 11-race card which also features the $150,000 Galway in Race 7 and the Grade 1, $500,000 Fourstardave Handicap, which offers a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Mile, in Race 9. First post is 1:10 p.m. Eastern.


Posted on