November 28, 2021

Soldier Rising, Public Sector main players in Hill Prince

Public Sector (Coglianese Photography)

Hill Prince S. (G2) — Race 9 (4:52 p.m. ET)

Runner-up in the Saratoga Derby (G1) and Jockey Club Derby in his first two U.S. appearances, Soldier Rising‘s time to shine might come Saturday in the $400,000 Hill Prince S. (G2) at Belmont Park, a nine-furlong grass test for three-year-olds.

Beaten only a length by fellow European shipper State of Rest in the Saratoga Derby, Soldier Rising turned in an equally strong effort in the Sept. 18 Jockey Club Derby. Although the beaten margin was higher at 2 1/2 lengths, the Christophe Clement trainee was facing a better rival in Yibir, a candidate for next month’s Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1).

Clement has won the Hill Prince three times, including the 2008 edition with future two-time grass champion Gio Ponti. Bill Mott owns the record for most wins in the Hill Prince by a trainer with four.

Public Sector swept Saratoga’s two other graded turf stakes for three-year-olds over a route of ground, the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame (G2) and the Saranac (G3), the latter over Never Surprised, who was making his first start since late January.

“It was a strong race and he put in a good effort,” trainer Pletcher said of Never Surprised. “I think he’ll be able to move forward second time off the layoff.”

Chad Brown, the trainer of Public Sector, also sends out Sifting Sands. He, too, was a two-time winner during the Saratoga meet, albeit by short margins in an allowance and the restricted Better Talk Now S.

Another likely contender Slicked Back, second in the Virginia Derby (G3) and only a neck behind Soldier Rising in the Jockey Club Derby after racing on or near the lead.

Noble Damsel S. (G3) — Race 8 (4:21 p.m. ET)

Christophe Clement and Chad Brown have each won the $200,000 Noble Damsel S. (G3) for fillies and mares five times, but only Brown will attempt to break that tie on Saturday in the one-mile grass fixture.

Tamahere possesses the most back class of Brown’s two entries, having captured the Sands Point (G2) last year. However, the four-year-old registered only her first win in five starts this term in the Violet S. at Monmouth Park last month, outclassing her rivals by more than seven lengths.

Brown also saddles Love and Thunder, who snapped a case of seconditis with a 4 3/4-length allowance win going seven furlongs on this course Oct. 1.

High Opinion just missed by a nose in the Ballston Spa (G2) to Grade 1 veteran Viadera, while recent allowance victors In a Hurry and Flower Point could factor for a share with improvement.