After Gate Scratch In Vanderbilt, Lexitonian Heading West For Bing Crosby

Calumet Farm’s Lexitonian, trained by Jack Sisterson, was scratched at the gate of Saturday’s Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap at Saratoga in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., but was in good order Sunday morning breezing a half-mile under assistant trainer Mark O’Dwyer in 47.66 seconds on the main track.

Whitmore, assigned post 2 in the Vanderbilt, broke through the gate before the start of the race and was quickly pulled up by jockey Joel Rosario. Lexitonian, from the inside post, subsequently sat back on his haunches dislodging jockey Tyler Gaffalione and was scratched at the gate. The remainder of the four-horse field was backed out and reloaded with Volatile proving victorious.

“I think a horse’s natural instinct when another horse breaks through the gate is to want to go after it,” said Sisterson. “He’s such a competitive horse that when Whitmore broke through, he wasn’t going to abide by Tyler. He wanted to go after that horse and that’s just him.

“Mark was with him and looked at him at the barn after the race and the vet went over him and there were no issues,” added Sisterson. “Unfortunately, that’s racing. You can’t predict what’s going to happen, but the main thing is he’s okay.”

O’Dwyer said Lexitonian was in good order Sunday morning and moved comfortably during the swift half-mile breeze.

Lexitonian entered the Vanderbilt off a sharp optional-claiming win on May 29 at Churchill Downs that garnered a 95 Beyer Speed Figure. The Speightstown chestnut was expected to use Saturday’s test as a springboard to the Grade 1, $300,000 Forego, presented by America’s Best Racing, a seven-furlong sprint for 4-year-olds and up on August 29.

However, Sisterson said Lexitonian will now ship to Del Mar for a start in Saturday’s Grade 1 Bing Crosby, a six-furlong sprint offering a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

“He ran such a fast Ragozin number at Churchill, a career high, we thought with that much of a leap forward you don’t want to run back too quick,” said Sisterson. “So, we penciled in the Vanderbilt and if he ran well we’d go to the Forego. We had the plan for months and it didn’t happen and now he’s full of energy and needs to run, so if he comes out of the breeze well this morning, he’ll go to the Bing Crosby at Del Mar.”

Calumet Farm and John Anthony Stables’ American Tattoo, who was nominated to Saturday’s Grade 1 Whitney, will instead point to next Sunday’s $100,000 Birdstone, a 1 ¾-mile stamina test for older horses at the Spa.

Previously trained by Todd Pletcher, the Birdstone will mark the 5-year-old son of Not For Sale’s first start for Sisterson. A five-time winner from 11 starts, American Tattoo was a Group 1 winner in his native Argentina capturing the 2018 Polla de Potrillos. He finished third in last year’s Grade 2 Marathon at 1 ¾-miles in November at Santa Anita and won the 10-furlong H. Allen Jerkens in December at Gulfstream Park.

“He’s training great at the moment at Keeneland. We have a great facility, thanks to Calumet, where we can train them and allow them to be a horse at the same time,” said Sisterson. “He gets turned out in his paddock every day and he enjoys that. He’s bought into our system and really blossomed and come around. He acts like a distance type of horse in his breezes, and he gets better as he hits the wire and gallops out. I think the mile and three-quarters will suit him. If he runs well there, we’d look at the Calumet Cup for him at Kentucky Downs [on September 7].”

Calumet Farm’s Vexatious, a 6-year-old Giant’s Causeway mare, posted a career-best 100 Beyer when second last out to Monomoy Girl in the Grade 2 Ruffian on July 11 at Belmont and is slated to make her next start in Saturday’s Grade 1, $500,000 Personal Ensign presented by NYRA Bets, offering a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.

Vexatious ran second in the Grade 3 Modesty on the Arlington Park turf last July in just her second start for Sisterson and followed up with a brave second in the nine-furlong Summer Colony, defeated a neck to Blue Prize who exited that race to win the Grade 1 Spinster at Keeneland and the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Santa Anita.

“She ran great in the Ruffian,” said Sisterson. “It was her third race off the layoff and typically, the way I train, they improve with racing. We leave a lot in the tank for them to improve and we thought she’d run a good race and she was second with a career high.

“In my opinion, she has the talent to be within a few lengths of any top filly in the country on her day,” added Sisterson. “Which she proved last summer finishing just a neck behind Blue Prize, who went on to the Breeders’ Cup.”

Vexatious breezed a half-mile in 49.45 Saturday on the Saratoga main track with O’Dwyer in the irons.

“Mark knows her well and he called me after the work to say she feels as good as she has done going into any race she’s run well in,” said Sisterson. “She’s coming back in just two weeks [from the Ruffian], which is a concern, but I think she’ll tell us when she’s not doing well. She’s held her coat well and eaten up, so she’s telling us she’s doing well.”

Sisterson said a prominent approach may be in the cards for Vexatious on Saturday.

“If it comes next week that Midnight Bisou scares people off and it’s a short field with no speed in the race, I’d have no problem at all if Jose [Lezcano] wants to jump out and make all with her,” said Sisterson. “She’s a true distance type of filly, but she can also run well at a one-turn mile and I wouldn’t be afraid of jumping out and making all because of the distance because in my opinion she only gallops and stays. The further the better.”

Calumet Farm’s Everfast, a closing second in last year’s Preakness for former trainer Dale Romans, joined the Sisterson barn for his 4-year-old campaign. With blinkers on for all three starts this season, Everfast ran a good second in his seasonal debut on April 18 in an Oaklawn Park allowance and followed up with another strong second, defeated a half-length by Owendale, in the Blame traveling one mile on the Churchill Downs main.

Last out, Everfast was off-the-board in the Grade 1 Makers Mark Mile on the Keeneland turf on July 10.

Sisterson said the addition of blinkers have helped provide the former late-running Everfast a more prominent running style.

“He jumped and went forward in his race at Oaklawn and he was forward again in the Blame,” said Sisterson. “We gave him a shot in the Makers Mark Mile but he didn’t handle the turf at all.”

Sisterson said the Take Charge Indy bay will make a return to dirt at Saratoga in an allowance sprint with an eye down the road to the Grade 1, $300,000 Forego presented by America’s Best Racing at seven furlongs on August 29.

“He’ll run seven eighths next Saturday at Saratoga,” said Sisterson. “That would be a prep for the Forego for him if all goes well.”

The post After Gate Scratch In Vanderbilt, Lexitonian Heading West For Bing Crosby appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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