July 22, 2024

Saratoga Derby attracts 11; War Like Goddess, Matareya favored on Whitney undercard

Classic Causeway wins the Belmont Derby (Photo by Susie Raisher/Coglianese Photos)

Saratoga Derby (G1) — Race 11 (6:20 p.m. ET)

The composition of Saturday’s $1 million Saratoga Derby (G1) looks a lot like last month’s Belmont Derby (G1), with a few newer faces thrown into the mix of the 1 3/16-mile grass feature.

The 10-furlong Belmont Derby was won in wire-to-wire fashion by turf newcomer Classic Causeway, who pulled off a 26-1 shocker by three parts of a length. His path to victory was made easier by the late withdrawal of Pennine Ridge (G2) winner Emmanuel, who was expected to set the pace.

“I’m real proud of how he handled himself in the Belmont Derby and I think he’ll rate a little better in his next start,” trainer Kenny McPeek said. “He seems to be turning off a little bit and he’s a very strong-willed horse.”

The Belmont Derby field was tightly bunched at the wire, with the top six finishers separated by 1 1/2 lengths. In closest pursuit at the wire were European invaders Nations Pride, the favorite, and Stone Age, both of whom are back to make amends.

“He looked like he was going to make a nice run into the home turn at Belmont and he got checked, but he still rallied and made a big effort,” said Chris Connett, the travelling assistant to trainer Charlie Appleby for Nations Pride. “If he can have a clear run through, he should take some beating.”

The fourth- through sixth-place finishers in the Belmont Derby — Grand Sonata, Royal Patronage, and Sy Dog — don’t have much ground to make up off that effort and might benefit from the abundance of pace signed on. In addition to Classic Causeway and Emmanuel, another likely to show early foot is last-out Kent (G3) winner Main Event, whose three wins to date were accomplished on the front end.

Todd Pletcher trains Emmanuel, Grand Sonata, and Annapolis, an ultra-consistent colt who’s only loss from four starts was a shocking one over soft ground in the Penn Mile (G2) two back.

“He’s trained super into this,” said Pletcher of Annapolis.

Completing the field are American Turf (G2) winner Stolen Base, who trailed the field of 12 in the Belmont Derby, and turf debuter Ethereal Road.

Glens Falls S. (G2) — Race 7 (3:58 p.m. ET)

War Like Goddess will be seeking another successful title defense this season in the $250,000 Glens Falls S. (G2), for fillies and mares over 1 1/2 miles on the turf.

One of last season’s leading turf mares, War Like Goddess has made just one start so far this term, winning the April 29 Bewitch (G3) at Keeneland for the second consecutive year. The Bill Mott trainee won the 2021 Glens Falls by more than three lengths before taking the Flower Bowl (G1).

Her main rival, from a class perspective, is Virginia Joy. A 14-length winner of the Sheepshead Bay (G2) two back on soft ground, the Chad Brown charge was fourth by one length to stablemate Bleecker Street in the New York (G1) last time.

Test S. (G1) — Race 9 (5:07 p.m. ET)

Matareya will look to extend her current win streak to five in the $500,000 Test S. (G1) for three-year-old fillies over seven furlongs. The Godolphin homebred has won all her starts this year by widening margins, including the Acorn (G1), Eight Belles (G2), and Beaumont (G3).

Her competition includes California invader Elm Drive, a Grade 2 winner at two and third against older rivals in the Great Lady M. (G2) at Los Alamitos last time. Stretching out in distance is Hot Peppers, who wired the field in last month’s Victory Ride (G3) at Belmont.