A close second when making his stakes debut in the Appleton (G3) two back, Delta Prince tuned up for Monday’s $250,000 Bernard Baruch (G2) with an eye-catching victory over allowance/optional claiming rivals earlier in the Saratoga meet. The promising 4-year-old is expected to go favored against eight opponents in the 1 1/16-mile turf affair on Labor Day.
A Stronach Stables homebred son of Street Cry, Delta Prince is a half-brother to three-time champion Royal Delta. He crushed maiden rivals when switching to turf for his third career start at Gulfstream Park in late December and followed with a victory over entry-level allowance foes in mid-February.
A winner in three of his last four starts for trainer Jimmy Jerkens, Delta Prince was freshened four months after the aforementioned setback in the Appleton. The dark bay did not disappoint as the odds-on favorite last time, rolling to a 3 ¼-length decision when trying the local turf on August 5, and jockey John Velazquez will return to the saddle on the up-and-coming colt.
Ring Weekend will make a title defense, rallying to win last year’s edition by a neck as the favorite, but the 6-year-old gelding will need to find form after recording unplaced efforts in his last five stakes attempts. Jose Ortiz rides for Graham Motion.
Chad Brown will send out Projected and Takeover Target. The former exits a runner-up as the favorite in the August 5 Lure over the course while the latter will make his second start of the season following a third in the same race. Florent Geroux and Joel Rosario have the mounts.
Canadian champion Heart to Heart is the one to catch. Winner of the Canadian Turf (G3) at Gulfstream three back, the speedy 6-year-old posted a neck second in the Maker’s 46 Mile (G1) at Keeneland two back and exits a close third in the Shoemaker Mile (G1) at Santa Anita. The Brian Lynch trainee figures to set the pace from the rail post with Irad Ortiz Jr.
Maker’s 46 Mile victor American Patriot will try to rebound from a sixth in the Fourstardave (G1) and Luis Saez will pick up the mount for Todd Pletcher. The remaining contestants are Forge, who is stepping up to make his American stakes bow for Bill Mott; stakes winner Highland Sky, who has dropped his last three versus allowance foes; and last-out claimer Glorious Empire.