From the Spa: August 24 Midlantic-breds in Saratoga stakes
by Joseph Aiello
“From the Spa” returns to keep you up-to-date on horses bred in the mid-Atlantic racing in Saratoga stakes
Saturday, August 24th is the 150th running of the Grade I Travers Stakes at Saratoga. Featuring a loaded card with seven graded stakes, Travers Day has plenty of opportunity for horses all around the country to prove their ranking amongst peers. It has also become a springboard day for plenty of talented runners aiming for the Breeders Cup in early November. With so many races of magnified importance, it makes sense that a few Mid-Atlantic breds are looking to take a chance on the biggest stage. Despite both entries being somewhat overlooked with their morning line odds, there have been plenty of upsets over the years in these talented fields, and all it takes is a chance to start to find your way into the winner’s circle. Here’s a look at our entries.
The seventh race is the Grade I H. Allen Jerkens Stakes which is a seven furlong sprint for three year olds on the dirt. It features many accomplished sprinters from this year’s meet, including the overwhelming favorite Shancelot, who ran away with the Grade II Amsterdam in dominant fashion earlier this summer. While a repeat of that performance would make him nearly unbeatable, our Pennsylvania bred from the two post, Call Paul, will return to the dirt where he has been his best throughout his career; including a win in the Grade II Saratoga Special last year. On top of the surface change, Call Paul will also get back jockey Irad Ortiz from that race last year for trainer Jason Servis, who hopes that these changes will help this bay colt by Friesan Fire – Avani Force, by Forestry return to form. Even with improvement, Call Paul would still need to be on his A game to run by Shancelot in the stretch, but if his $210,000 price tag for owners Michael Dubb, David Simon, Bethlehem Stables LLC, and Bruce Irom isn’t reflective enough of his talent, his two wins in three tries at this distance is. Call Paul was bred by Beatrice Patterson and Vicky Schowe and has morning line odds of 15/1.
In the eleventh race, the $1,250,000 Grade I Travers Stakes, an evenly-matched field of twelve horses look to assert themselves as the top three year old in the nation. While some like Tacitus and Tax are more well-known and accomplished, Chess Chief is an outsider breaking from the eight post bred in Virginia with morning line odds of 30/1. What is somewhat of a surprise, however, is Mike Smith deciding to take this mount, meaning the odds may not be reflective of this bay colt’s talent and potential at this longer distance. After improving upon stretching to a mile and an eighth, trainer Dallas Stewart thought the added eighth in this race could allow Chess Chief more distance to run into, which would help him continue to show signs of improvement. Even so, Chess Chief winning would still be a massive upset, as he has not won a race outside of a maiden try earlier this year. Perhaps the bloodlines of Into Mischief – Un Blessed, by Mineshaft gives these connections and the owner, the Estate of James J. Coleman Jr., hope that this could be a huge breakthrough effort. Chess Chief was bred by Morgan’s Ford Farm and was sold for $145,000 as a yearling.