Stay Thirsty, Shackleford headline star studded Saturday at The Spa
With only three days of racing left before they close up shop at Saratoga and head south to Belmont, a pair of Grade 1 stakes figure to give fans quite a thrill. YNN's Matt Hunter has a closer look at the star studded fields in Saturday's Forego and Woodward stakes.
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SARATOGA RACE COURSE -- Saratoga fans don't have to look too far back in the rear-view mirror to find Stay Thirsty.
Last year the Todd Pletcher trained colt won the Grade 2 Jim Dandy and Grade 1 Travers Stakes.
This Saturday, more than a month after a fifth place finish in the Suburban Handicap at Belmont Park, he headlines a seven horse field in the $750,000 Woodward Stakes.
"He didn't get away from the gate well that day and just didn't react well to the heat at all,” Pletcher said Friday morning. “It took us a little while to get him back into the condition he was going into that race but we think we have him back at his best right now."
The Woodward's morning line favorite is the horse who beat Stay Thirsty and five others in that running of the Suburban, Mucho Macho Man.
After taking last summer off following starts in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont, he's poised to make his second career start at The Spa.
"He needed some time after the Triple Crown last year just to develop and grow,” trainer Kathy Ritvo said. “He's come back definitely much stronger and all of his training has been forward and we're ready for a big race here."
Rounding out the Woodward field are Rule, Gourmet Dinner, Trickmeister, To Honor and Serve and Cease.
Before the Woodward field leaves the gate, eight horses will make a run at the $500,000 Forego Stakes, which includes the card's only classic winner, 2011 Preakness champ, Shackleford.
In early August, he ran a disappointing eighth in the Vanderbilt Stakes. Last August, he also ran eighth in the Travers.
"He looks good,” trainer Dale Romans said Friday morning. “Earlier in the meet when he ran the track was muddy. He's never run well in the mud, we probably shouldn't have run him but he looks like he's training well and ready to go."
Shackleford will have to contend with last year's Forego winner, Jackson Bend. The Nick Zito trained colt is lucky to be in the race after another horse collided with him on the Oklahoma Training Track two weeks ago.
"We put him through all kinds of tests, he passed every one of them,” Zito said. “All of the people have told me he's fine to run, so the only thing is we'll see what happens. If any horse can forget, it's him and I'm hoping he's ok."
Also entered in the Forego are Jersey Town, Isn’t He Perfect, Pacific Ocean, Emcee, Caixa Eletronica and Hamazing Destiny.
The Forego and Woodward are the last two significant stakes for older horses of the Saratoga meet. Both could go a long way toward deciding end of the year honors.