Turf juveniles will be in focus in Saratoga’s weekday stakes. Royal Ascot participant Cynane stretches out in Wednesday’s $150,000 P.G. Johnson S. for fillies, followed by the $175,000 With Anticipation (G3) open to all two-year-olds on Thursday.
P.G. Johnson S. – Race 9 Wednesday (5:44 p.m. ET)
Cynane, the first winner sired by well-regarded freshman sire Omaha Beach, wired her five-furlong debut on Belmont Park’s Widener turf course. Trainer Tom Morley long had her penciled in as a prospect for Royal Ascot’s Queen Mary (G2), where she wasn’t disgraced in 10th of 26 on ground that had more moisture than ideal. A step up in trip to 1 1/16 miles here figures to suit her well, but she’d prefer the rain to stay away from the Spa.
Hard to Justify and Brocknardini announced themselves as premier contenders with impressive course-and-distance victories on debut. The Chad Brown-trained Hard to Justify overcame significant trouble to get up, while Brocknardini crushed New York-breds to become the latest pin-up juvenile for George Weaver. Adam Rice’s Dancing Spirit likewise sports a win at this trip on the inner turf.
Bill Mott has two entered. Gala Brand, who came from the clouds in a stunning 5 1/2-furlong debut here, is cross-entered to the With Anticipation versus males. By Violence and out of turf marathoner Olorda, Gala Brand is a natural to stretch out. Magic Cross could make her turf debut off a fourth in the Adirondack (G3), although the Good Magic filly probably wouldn’t mind if the race were rained onto the main track.
Madame Mischief broke her maiden over a grassy mile at Monmouth Park. She Feels Pretty invades off an Ellis Park turf sprint maiden, and Takemetothebeach will try to translate her Presque Isle Downs Tapeta form. She had beaten next-out Spa winner Dancing Spirit in that mutual debut. If the maiden Villi Olento looks up against it on paper, she was fifth in the key Woodbine maiden that produced stakes scorers Golden Canary and Airosa. Todd Pletcher’s main-track-only Miz Sense, winner of an off-the-turf maiden here, hopes that history repeats.
With Anticipation (G3) – Race 7 Thursday (4:34 p.m. ET)
Pletcher has sent out a grand total of six With Anticipation winners, but none since Opry (2018). The Hall of Famer will try again for number seven with Nomos, a Wertheimer homebred who romped in his Monmouth unveiling. By Uncle Mo and out of the multiple stakes-placed Tapit mare Westit, Nomos is a full brother to stablemate Soviet Excess, third in the recent Lake Placid (G2).
Trainer Christophe Clement, fresh off five stakes wins last week, is double-handed with Carson’s Run and Spirit Prince. Both debuted over this course and distance, with Carson’s Run rallying to score, and Spirit Prince finishing a close second to Noted, the next-out Sapling S. winner. Note that Spirit Prince adds blinkers off that half-length miss.
Mott also has two. In addition to the cross-entered filly Gala Brand, the Hall of Famer sends out Get Spooled, who stole a track-and-trip maiden for New York-breds. Wine Collector, by hot freshman sire Flameaway, exits a front-running maiden win at Colonial Downs, and pace factor British Sea just missed first out at Ellis Park for Mike Maker. But Market Street has shown the most speed so far, on dirt. D. Wayne Lukas has him poised for a surface switch after his distant second in the Saratoga Special (G2).