SARATOGA SPRINGS — Winchell Thoroughbreds and Stonestreet Stables’ Nitrous will look to add graded stakes-winner to his accomplishments after coming within a neck of earning that status last out, headlining a talented 12-horse field in the 27th running of the Grade 2, $200,000 Amsterdam for 3-year-olds going 6 ½ furlongs on Saratoga Race Course’s main track today.
Nitrous ran second by a neck to Hog Creek Hustle in the Grade 1 Woody Stephens on Belmont Stakes Day June 8. The Tapit colt, trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, has finished first or second in three of his last four starts, all against stakes company, including a 1 ¾-length win in the six-furlong Bachelor on April 27 at Oaklawn Park and a win by a head over Sherriff Brown in the Riley Allison Derby on January 27 at Sunland Park in his 3-year-old bow.
Drawing post 6, Nitrous will again have the services of Ricardo Santana, Jr., who has been aboard for eight of his previous nine starts.
“He got a favorable setup in the Woody Stephens and I think Ricardo and Steve have figured out the way he wants to be ridden,” said David Fiske, Winchell’s racing and bloodstock manager. “It looks like he’s a closing sprinter, so he seems to have done well the past three races or so. He just needs some pace in front of him. Typically, that’s not a problem at Saratoga. Hopefully, he can get up on Sunday.”
Nitrous broke his maiden at second asking at Saratoga in July 2018 and ran third over the same track to Mucho and the winner Mind Control in the Grade 1 Hopeful on Closing Day, September 3. His juvenile year led to his multiple stakes-winner sophomore year, with Fiske saying the connections garnering a better understanding of his skill-set.
“Like any horse, he’s gotten bigger and strong and more mature, but I think the main thing is that we’ve figured out how he wants to run, and that’s made the difference,” Fiske said.
Gold Square’s Wendell Fong is also a stakes-winner, posting a 2 ½-length score in the Gold Fever on May 12 over a sloppy Belmont track before running fifth in the Woody Stephens. With three wins in five career starts, trainer Jeremiah Englehart said he’s been mindful in giving the Flat Out colt the proper rest between starts.
“It seems like he’s coming into the race pretty well,” Englehart said. “He’s pretty straightforward. He’s been the same since we started him back last year. He’s a horse we like to space out his races a little bit. He gives it a 110 percent in every race, so his numbers show that he’s a little better with space between those [spots]. I think the one-turn six-to-seven furlongs is right in his wheelhouse.”
Jockey Jorge Vargas, Jr. has been aboard for all previous starts and has the return call from post 7.
Trainer Mark Casse will saddle a pair of entries for owner John Oxley in Strike Silver and Super Comet.
Strike Silver was fourth in the Woody Stephens, marking his first dirt race after running the previous four times on turf, including a win in the Indian Summer in October at Keeneland and a seventh-place finish in the Grade 1 Breeders’Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint in November at Churchill.
Following a third-place effort on the grass in the Paradise Creek on May 25 at Belmont, Casse moved him back to the main track. Strike Silver won his debut on the dirt in June 2018 and ran second in his only previous Saratoga race in last year’s Grade 3 Sanford. He will return to the Spa main track with Irad Ortiz, Jr. riding from post 10.
Super Comet, 2-for-2 in his young career with both wins in June at Churchill Downs, will step up in class. The Super Saver colt has won at seven furlongs in his debut on June 2 and at the Amsterdam distance on June 21.
“I thought his maiden win was really impressive because he got away a little slow,” Casse said. “He was running seven eighths, which is always difficult for a first-time starter, but he kind of had to rush up and he was wide and I figured he might flatten out a little bit and run third or fourth, but he took off which was amazing.
“I came back and ran him a little quicker than I would like, especially off of that effort, but it aligned well with the Amsterdam, so I already had that race in mind,” he added. “Hopefully, his biggest race is his next one.”
Super Comet will break from post 3 with Shaun Bridgmohan.
Shancelot will look to stay undefeated after an impressive 2-for-2 start for trainer Jorge Navarro that included a 100 Beyer Speed figure last out in a 6 ¼-length win on June 23 at Monmouth. Purchased for $245,000 at the 2018 Ocala Breeders’Sale, the son of Shanghai Bobby broke his maiden in his debut on February 16 at Gulfstream, besting Bodexpress by a neck. Jockey Emisael Jaramillo, who piloted him to both wins, will go for a third straight, drawing post 12.
Juddmonte Farms’Honest Mischief broke his maiden at second asking with an eight-length win on April 6 at Keeneland before running sixth in the Woody Stephens last month. The Chad Brown trainee will be making his fourth start on a fourth different track after racing previously at Gulfstream, Keeneland and Belmont. Hall of Famer Javier Castellano will be in the irons from post 5.
Valene Farms’Classy John ended his 2-year-old campaign with consecutive stakes wins, taking the Louisiana Champions Day Juvenile and the Louisiana Futurity in December at Fair Grounds. Trained by Dallas Stewart, Classy John ran seventh in the Grade 2 Rebel in March at Oaklawn and ran his last two races against allowance company. Luis Saez picks up the mount and will exit post 4.
Jacks or Better Farm’s Garter and Tie has won three stakes for trainer Ralph Nicks, including the Ocala at the Amsterdam distance on June 1 at Gulfstream. After running fifth in the Grade 3 Smile Sprint on June 29 at the same track, Garter and Tie, drawing post 8, will run at Saratoga for the first time, teaming with Tyler Gaffalione for the first time since the duo was sixth in the Grade 2 Holy Bull on February 2.
Rounding out the field are contenders looking for their first respective stakes wins with the Ian Wilkes-trained Bourbon Calling [post 9, Julien Leparoux]; The Big S, third in the Lookin At Lucky on June 2 at Monmouth, for trainer Raymond Handal [post 1, Manny Franco]; Achilles Warrior, trained by Mark Hennig [post 2, Joe Bravo]; and Lemniscate, conditioned by Ken McPeek, making his first stakes start since running 11th in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby on March 23 [post 11; Jose Ortiz].
The Amsterdam is slated as Race 11 on today’s 12-race card. First post is 1 p.m.