Hard Love Likely Starter In Saratoga Derby

After finishing a distant seventh after setting the pace in the 10-furlong Grade 1 Belmont Derby on July 10, Robert V. LaPenta, Augustin Stable, and Madaket Stable’s Hard Love is likely to seek redemption in the $1 million Grade 1 Saratoga Derby Invitational, the second leg of the Turf Triple Series, on August 7 at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

The bay sophomore son of Kitten’s Joy previously showed tactical speed, laying in second at every call down the backstretch in his five prior starts before the Belmont Derby.

After a first-out maiden win in October at Belmont Park and a second-place finish in the Central Park at Aqueduct the following month, Hard Love returned to action with vigor when taking the Woodhaven on April 17 at the Big A. In capturing the 1 1/16-mile event, he defeated subsequent stakes winners It’s a Gamble and Original as well as Sifting Sands, an impressive allowance winner on Saturday at Saratoga.

Following the Woodhaven, Hard Love defeated a salty group of elders in a nine-furlong allowance event at Belmont Park ahead of the Belmont Derby.

“It’s a goal along with some other things, but we’ll just let the horse dictate in his training what we’re going to do with him, but we’re certainly going to keep an eye on it,” Thomas said.

Thomas said Hard Love, who was piloted by Manny Franco, could have been a little more aggressive earlier in the race. He also added that the Belmont Derby winner and Saratoga Derby invitee Bolshoi Ballet is in a league of his own.

“Hindsight is always 20-20 and I wish I had asked Manny to be a little more assertive,” Thomas said. “He went 1:17 for three-quarters and slowed it down. He doesn’t possess a massive turn of foot so ideally; we would have gone on a little bit. Another thing is that it was a different group of horses. The winner was exceptional, so not taking anything away from the field. You could even make a case that the filly [Santa Barbara] could have won the Belmont Derby had she run. They were legitimate horses.”

Thomas said Hard Love is likely to appear on the work tab next weekend.

“He just shipped up [Saturday] and possibly will be back on the work tab next week depending on how the weather treats us,” Thomas said.

The post Hard Love Likely Starter In Saratoga Derby appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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