From the Spa: September 4 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
September 4th is the final Saturday of the 2021 Saratoga meet, featuring the Grade I Jockey Club Gold Cup which replaces the Woodward as the season-ending race for three year olds and up as a prep for the Breeder’s Cup Classic. Two other stakes races, the Grade III Saranac and Grade I Flower Bowl, will be run before the Gold Cup, setting up the closing weekend with some great racing. After a bit of a stakes hiatus for Midlantic bred runners, two will be entered in Saturday’s races; one in the Saranac, and another in the Gold Cup. With a couple highlight wins for Midlantic shippers at the Spa this summer, this duo of 15/1 morning line long shots will look to cap the meet off in style.
The eighth race is the Grade III Saranac Stakes, run at a mile and one sixteenth on the turf exclusively for three year olds. With a small seven horse field including an MTO entry, the usual trainers in Chad Brown and Todd Pletcher headline the race, as Kelly Breen enters longshot He’spuregold who breaks from the three post. Breen has put together a solid season, winning five races in thirty-five starts, and has trained He’spuregold to his first two wins after adding him to his stable in early June. For this try, Breen teams up with jockey Ricardo Santana Jr., an unfamiliar partner who has only piloted his trainees once over the past year. Even with some unfamiliarity, this combination is more than talented enough to take down the favorites, but He’spuregold will need to continue to show improvement to pick up his third straight win. Bred in New Jersey by John Bowers Jr., who is also the owner, He’spuregold is a three year old gelding by Vancouver (AUS) – Smart N Classy, by Smart Strike.
The Twelfth and final race of the card is the Grade I Jockey Club Gold Cup, run at the classic distance over the dirt course. As the second longest morning line shot on the board, Chess Chief returns to Saratoga for the second time after running a distant eighth in the Travers two summers ago. This will also mark his second try going this far, as well as his second crack at grade one company. While he has been inconsistent at times in his career, Chess Chief won the Grade II New Orleans Classic Stakes in late March, and is trained by the always dangerous Dallas Stewart who brings back the meet’s leading rider, Luis Saez, as his jockey. Saez guided Chess Chief to the New Orleans Classic victory, as this five year old horse by Into Mischief – Un Blessed, by Mineshaft closed from off the leaders as he has become accustomed to doing. Although this spot might be a step forward, this Virginia bred runner has the stakes experience and connections to perform well here. Chess Chief was bred by Morgan’s Ford Farm and is owned by the Estate of James J. Coleman, Jr.