Blue Prize looks for top honors in Summer Colony

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Merriebelle Stable’s Blue Prize will return to Saratoga Race Course looking to build on a trio of graded-stakes placings in her 6-year-old campaign when she competes against a salty seven-horse field of veteran fillies and mares in today’s $100,000 Summer Colony.

Blue Prize, who ran second in the 2017 Summer Colony in her last trip to the Spa, will get another chance for trainer Ignacio Correas in the sixth edition of the 1 1/8-mile contest on the main track. The Argentinean-bred has registered Beyer Speed Figures in excess of 90 in her last seven starts, starting with a win in the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis Handicap in June 2018 at Churchill Downs. She added two more consecutive wins against graded sakes company, capturing the Grade 3 Locust Grove in September at Churchill and winning the Grade 1 Spinster in October at Keeneland.

Against a talented field, Blue Prize ran a competitive fourth in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Distaff in November at Churchill against some of the best females in the country, finishing only 1½ lengths behind winner Monomoy Girl, followed by Wow Cat and a head back to Midnight Bisou to cap her 5-year-old year campaign.

Following a six-month break, Blue Prize started her 6-year-old year with a third-place finish in the Grade 1 La Troienne on May 3 and followed with back-to-back efforts that earned 94 Beyers, running second to Elate in this year’s edition of the Grade 2 Fleur e Lis and third in the Grade 2 Delaware Handicap – also won by Elate – last out on July 13. After continuing to train in Kentucky, her conditioner said she’s been adapting well in traveling to the Saratoga.

Blue Prize has a 7-8-3 record in 20 career starts with earnings of $1,237,253. Correas said she likely won’t run as a 7-year-old and is looking to end an impressive career that includes a Group 1 win in her native country and four North American graded stakes victories in impressive fashion.

“Last year, she had a great year and she’s doing really good this year,” Correas said. “I’m hoping in the last half of the year, she’ll go on a winning streak and end the year on a good note, and then she’ll retire.”

Jockey Jose Ortiz will pick up the mount, drawing post 7.

Graded-stakes winner Pacific Wind will be making her first start since a fifth-place finish in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps on Belmont Stakes Day June 8. The Chad Brown trainee, who won the 2018 Grade 2 Ruffian and finished second in this year’s edition behind Come Dancing on May 5 at Belmont, will be running at the Spa for the first time since finishing fifth in the 2018 Grade 2 Shuvee.

The 5-year-old Curlin mare has hit the board in three of her last four starts — all against graded stakes company — including third in the Grade 3 Go for Wand Handicap in December at Aqueduct Racetrack and third in October’s Spinster.

Irad Ortiz, Jr., aboard for seven of Pacific Wind’s last eight starts will have the return call from post 1.

Calumet Farm’s Vexatious ran second to Juliet Foxtrot in the Grade 3 Modesty Handicap last out on July 13 at Arlington Park, notching her best effort since placing first in the Grade 3 Dowager in October at Keeneland.

Since Jack Sisterson took over the training responsibilities from Neil Drysdale, Vexatious has competed at longer distances, running fifth in the 1 ¼-mile Grade 2 New York on June 7 at Belmont before earning blacktype carrying 118 pounds in the Modesty last month. Joel Rosario will ride from post 4.

Skeptic proved she could defeat stakes company with a win in the Grade 3 Monmouth Oaks last August and will look to face some familiar foes in the Summer Colony after running sixth in the Fleur de Lis Handicap. Trained by Rusty Arnold, Skeptic drew post 6 with Julien Leparoux on the call.

Alberobello will be looking for her first stakes win while looking to rebound from a fifth-place finish in the Lady’s Secret on June 22 at Monmouth. Trained by Todd Pletcher, the 4-year-old daughter of Bernardini was purchased for $475,000 at the 2016 Keeneland September Sale and is 3-2-0 in eight career starts. Luis Saez will ride from post 5.

Rounding out the field is pair of entrants for trainer Jorge Navarro in Breaking Bread, winner of the Serena’s Song in May at Monmouth who drew post 2 with Hall of Famer Javier Castellano in the irons, and Tweeting, an Uncle Mo mare who will return to stakes action after winning an allowance on June 30 at Monmouth [post 3, Ricardo Santana, Jr.] 

The Summer Colony is carded as Race 9 on today’s 10-race card with an approximate post time of 5:38 p.m. The first post is set for 1 p.m.

Lustgarten Foundation Day 

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The New York Racing Association, Inc. will honor the legacy of late trainer Dominic Galluscio while raising funds and awareness for pancreatic cancer research during Lustgarten Foundation Day at Saratoga Race Course today.

The day’s first race will be named in honor of Galluscio, who passed away in 2014 following a brief battle with pancreatic cancer. A popular and respected figure amongst his peers, Galluscio trained more than 1,000 winners and earned more than $31 million in purses over a career that began in 1981 and was spent primarily on the New York circuit.

The centerpiece of the day will be a trainer autograph session from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Jockey Silks Room Porch to benefit The Lustgarten Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing scientific and medical research related to pancreatic cancer. The first 200 fans will receive a limited-edition poster of Diversify, winner of the 2018 Grade 1 Whitney, and Saratoga hat with a donation to The Lustgarten Foundation.

Hall of Famers D. Wayne Lukas, Shug McGaughey and Nick Zito are among the trainers scheduled to sign autographs (lineup subject to change). They will be joined by seven-time Eclipse Award winner Todd Pletcher as well as Chad Brown who currently sits atop the 2019 leaderboard and is seeking to defend his 2018 title.

Saratoga Race Course will feature purple décor in honor of The Lustgarten Foundation and donation bins will be positioned throughout the track grounds.

By Paul Wager

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