Imperial Hint 124-Pound Highweight In Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap

Raymond Mamone’s Grade 2 True North winner Imperial Hint will shoulder the 124-pound high weight as he makes his first start at Saratoga Race Course against a field of seven in the Grade 1, $350,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap for 3-year-olds and up at six furlongs on Saturday.

Last year, the Florida-bred son of Imperialism rode a five-race win streak, which included Grade 3 victories in the General George and Smile Sprint, to a second-place finish in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint behind eventual sprint champion Roy H on November 4.

After the Breeders’ Cup, the Luis Carvajal Jr.-trained Imperial Hint was put on the shelf until his 5-year-old debut in a Florida-bred stakes in March at Tampa Bay Downs. He romped to a five-length score in that effort and followed up with a bid in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs, where he faltered late on the sloppy and sealed main track to finish sixth, 4 1/2 lengths behind Limousine Liberal.

He came back with a gutsy performance in the True North on June 8 at Belmont Park, settling in fourth early and digging in with a strong rally to post a neck victory over the well regarded Whitmore.

“When I went to Kentucky, I had high hopes because the horse was training so well,” said Carvajal. “I started to get worried about two hours before the race, it was raining so hard and I wasn’t a big fan of how the track looked then. That day I took a chance because we were there already and he had been training so good. It didn’t disappoint me though because I thought we could be in trouble that day.

“He came out of that race good and then we went to New York and I knew he was going to run good,” he added. “We had a couple of nice horses there, like Whitmore and everyone, there but I knew he was going to try hard because he does that. That race in the True North really helped him. He put a lot of effort in that race, and we’ve given him about seven weeks to this race, so he’s coming in fresh.”

Following the True North, Imperial Hint pulled a shoe in his first breeze back on July 7 at Parx Racing, but he got back onto the worktab last Saturday with a four-furlong move in a bullet 46.98 seconds.

“If he wasn’t 100 percent, I would just waited and looked for another race later on,” Carvajal said. “We had that little hiccup two weeks ago, but he’s shown in his last work that he’s 100 percent. I can see in his attitude and physically, he’s ready to go. Everything looks good.”

Hall of Fame rider Javier Castellano has the return call aboard Imperial Hint. The pair will leave from post 4.

As the co-low weight at 115 pounds, KRA Stud Farm’s Mr. Crow will be looking to rebound from a disappointing fifth-place finish in the Kelly’s Landing on June 30 at Churchill Downs last time out.

The 4-year-old Tapizar colt recorded back-to-back victories at the Spa last year, including a sharp, 11 1/2-length maiden win against older horses before being transferred to trainer Ben Colebrook for his 2018 campaign. He won his first start for the new barn with a two-length win in an optional claimer on May 1 and finished second in the Grade 3 Aristides prior to the Kelly’s Landing.

“His record at Saratoga is very good. He’s run two very fast races up there and it’s a short field in a Grade 1, so we’re taking a shot,” said Colebrook, who won his first New York stakes earlier this month with Limousine Liberal in the Grade 2 Belmont Sprint Championship.

“I think we’ve got to draw a line through that last race,” he said of the Kelly’s Landing. “He stumbled pretty good leaving the gate and was shuffled back. Our plan that day was to be kind of a pace presence so that didn’t go to plan and the jockey said he wanted to rush up there and drag him around. He flattened out at the end and Joe [Rocco, Jr.] just wrapped up when he saw that it just wasn’t going to happen.”

Jose Ortiz picks up the mount aboard Mr. Crow, who will break from post 6.

Sierra Farm’s homebred Done Deal is stepping up against graded stakes competition for trainer Ian Wilkes following a four-length win in the Iowa Sprint Handicap on July 6 at Prairie Meadows.

The 5-year-old Macho Uno gelding was sidelined for nearly 20 months when he returned to the races with a dead heat for victory in an optional claiming turf sprint in May at Churchill Downs before his successful stakes debut in the Iowa Sprint over the main track.

“After he came back and dead heated for the win his first race, I decided to give him a little time and take him to Prairie Meadows, and if he ran good, we said we’d think about the Vanderbilt,” said Wilkes. “The horse has done it all himself in taking us there.

“He’s a naturally fast horse and he’s just gotten better and better,” he added.

Done Deal will carry 116 pounds in tandem with jockey Chris Landeros from the outside post 7.

Rounding out the field for the Vanderbilt are Petrov (116 pounds), elevated to third by disqualification in the Grade 3 Smile Sprint last time out; Grade 3 Maryland Sprint winner Switzerland (119); Churchill Downs Racing Club’s multiple stakes winner Warrior’s Club (118); and Smile Sprint runner-up Sweetontheladies (115).

As part of a stakes-paced 11-race card on Saturday, the Vanderbilt (Race 8) will be part of an extended edition of Saratoga Live from 4-7 p.m. ET on MSG+, FOX Sports Prime Ticket and FOX Sports San Diego. The day’s feature race, the Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy presented by NYRA Bets for Grade 1 Travers hopefuls, will be aired nationally on FS2 from 6-7 p.m.

The post Imperial Hint 124-Pound Highweight In Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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