Annapolis Cuts Back In Distance For Saturday’s Saranac

Bass Racing’s Kentucky homebred Annapolis leads a talented field of five in Saturday’s Grade 3, $200,000 Saranac, a 1 1/16-mile inner turf test for sophomores, at Saratoga Race Course.

Trained by Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, the War Front bay made the grade at second asking with a head score in the G2 Pilgrim in October at Belmont Park to close out a 2-for-2 juvenile campaign.

Annapolis finished second in his seasonal debut in the G2 Penn Mile in June, which was contested over exceedingly soft going at Penn National, but returned to winning form one month later with a 2 3/4-length win in the one-mile Manila at Belmont.

The regally-bred colt, out of the Grade 2-winning Unbridled’s Song mare My Miss Sophia, closed to finish second to Nations Pride last out on Aug. 6 in the 1 3/16-mile G1 Caesars Saratoga Derby Invitational – the second leg of the Caesars Turf Triple series.

Pletcher said he was pleased with the effort from Annapolis, who has breezed back twice over the Oklahoma training turf, including a half-mile in :48.62 on Aug. 26.

“It was a very good race. He just couldn’t quite get there but it was a good performance,” Pletcher said. “He breezed back well and seems to be in very good form.”

Pletcher said Annapolis should benefit from the cut back in distance as he maps a route to one-mile turf stakes at Keeneland rather than continuing on in the Turf Triple which concludes with the 12-furlong Grade 3, $1 million Caesars Jockey Club Derby on Sept. 17 at the Belmont at the Big A fall meet.

“We wanted to back him up a little bit and it’s a better distance than the mile and a half at Aqueduct. He’s doing well and ready to run,” Pletcher said.

Irad Ortiz, Jr. retains the mount from post 3.

Fuerteventura [post 5, Manny Franco], bred and co-owned by Brereton C. Jones with Robert V. LaPenta, captured the one-mile Jersey Derby on May 29 over firm footing at Monmouth Park to complete a hat trick of victories.

Trained by Jonathan Thomas, the Summer Front bay, a $190,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase, graduated at second asking in March in a maiden claimer over the Gulfstream Park turf ahead of an off-the-turf optional-claiming score in April at the Hallandale Beach oval.

He enters from a sixth-place finish in the G3 Marine at 1 1/16-miles on July 2 over the Tapeta at Woodbine Racetrack.

Out of the Smart Strike mare Casanova Striker, Fuerteventura is a half-sibling to stakes-winners Midnight Soiree, Ciguaraya and Silver Time.

Stuart S. Janney III’s Kentucky homebred Celestial City [post 1, Javier Castellano] enters from a close third-place finish in the one-mile G2 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame on Aug. 5, defeated 1 3/4-lengths by the victorious Ready to Purrform and a half-length back of next-out stakes winner Wit.

Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey said he was pleased with the last out effort from Celestial City, who will add blinkers.

“I hope he moves up a little bit. I thought he ran well last time,” McGaughey said. “He’ll run with blinkers on and I think that will help him. We’re looking forward to running him.”

The Uncle Mo bay graduated in March at Gulfstream Park and subsequently hit the board in a pair of stakes, including a runner-up effort to Fuerteventura in the Jersey Derby.

The well-bred bay is out of the Malibu Moon mare Lunar Evening, who is a half-sister to Janney’s 2012 G1 Donn Handicap winner Hymn Book.

Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Albert Frassetto’s Piqua [post 2, Junior Alvarado] graduated at second asking in July as a first-time gelding traveling 1 1/16-miles over firm turf at Laurel Park for trainer Graham Motion.

The Speightstown chestnut enters from a closing third in a one-mile optional-claiming test on Aug. 13 over firm Spa turf, finishing one-length back of the victorious multiple graded stakes placed Portfolio Company.

The $100,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase is out of the Pivotal mare Pickaway, who is a half-sister to multiple graded stakes winner Silent Name.

Julie Gilbert and Aaron Sones’ Ethereal Road [post 4, Luis Saez] made no impact in his turf debut when ninth last out from the outermost post 10 in the G1 Caesars Saratoga Derby Invitational for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

The Quality Road bay, a $90,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase, contested the Road to the Triple Crown, finishing second in the G2 Rebel in February at Oaklawn Park and fourth in the G3 Lexington in April at Keeneland. He scratched from the G1 Kentucky Derby in May allowing Rich Strike to draw in and make history at odds of 80-1 in the Run for the Roses.

Ethereal Road secured his first stakes victory in May with a 4 3/4-length score in the Sir Barton on the Preakness Stakes undercard at Pimlico. He finished a distant sixth in June in the G3 Ohio Derby at Thistledown ahead of his turf debut.

The Saranac is slated as Race 4 on Saturday’s 13-race card, which also features the Grade 2, $600,000 Flower Bowl in Race 10, offering a “Win and You’re In” spot in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf; and the Grade 1, $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup in Race 11, providing a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic. First post is 12:05 p.m. Eastern. Gates will open at 10:30 a.m.

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