May 20, 2024

Corniche returns for Pletcher in nine-horse Amsterdam

Corniche with Mike Smith riding wins the Breeders Cup Juvenile at Del Mar Race Track (Photo by Horsephotos)

Unbeaten champion two-year-old male Corniche, last seen winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Del Mar by 1 3/4 lengths, will open his three-year-old campaign in Sunday’s $200,000 Amsterdam (G2) at 6 1/2 furlongs.

Previously trained by Bob Baffert, the frontrunning son of Quality Road will make his first start for Todd Pletcher. Corniche has registered outstanding Brisnet Speed ratings of 102 and 100 in his last two starts, numbers that tower over his eight rivals, and Luis Saez will pick up the mount on the bay colt.

Pletcher will also send out My Prankster, winner of the seven-furlong Swale S. (G3) at Gulfstream earlier this season. The late-running son of Into Mischief exits a second in the July 3 Maxfield S. at Churchill Downs.

Pappacap, runner-up to Corniche in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and American Pharoah (G1) last fall, merits respect. Formerly on the Triple Crown trail, the Mark Casse-trained colt has cut back in distance with a pair of respectable efforts in his last two outings, recording non-threatening seconds to Jack Christopher in the Woody Stephens (G1) and Pat Day Mile (G2). Joel Rosario guides the son of Gun Runner.

Gunite, winner of the Hopeful (G1) last summer, returns to Saratoga following an encouraging half-length score in the Maxfield. The dark bay son of Gun Runner will make his third start off the layoff for Steve Asmussen with Tyler Gaffalione.

Pinehurst is also a juvenile Grade 1 winner, taking the Del Mar Futurity (G1), and the speedy colt captured the Saudi Derby (G3) two back. Now trained by John Terranova, Pinehurst should appreciate the cutback in distance following an unplaced effort in the UAE Derby (G2), and he could be the one to catch from the rail with Flavien Prat.

Accretive, a smashing 5 3/4-length debut winner as the heavy favorite on June 26 at Belmont Park, is an intriguing new face in the stakes ranks. Trained by Chad Brown, the Practical Joke gelding will be rallying from off the pace with Irad Ortiz Jr.

Hoist the Gold, Runninsonofagun, and Surfer Dude complete the cast.