June 22, 2024

Mitole totes 125 pounds in Vanderbilt; Bowling Green attracts deep field of 13

Mitole and jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. capture the Metropolitan Handicap (G1) at Belmont Park on June 8, 2019 (c) EquiSport Photos/Jessie Holmes

After successfully stretching out to a mile in last month’s Metropolitan H. (G1), Mitole reverts to sprinting in Saturday’s $350,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt H. (G1) at Saratoga. The Steve Asmussen trainee will tote 125 pounds while seeking his eighth consecutive victory.

Not only does Mitole burnish credentials for sprint champion honors following earlier wins in the Churchill Downs (G1) and Count Fleet Sprint H. (G3), but the son of Eskendereya beat a stellar field in the Met Mile to throw his hat into the ring for champion older dirt male honors as well.

“He’s been training impressively all year and hopefully it continues,” Asmussen said.

Imperial Hint, who captured the Vanderbilt, Vosburgh (G1) and True North (G2) last season, makes his first start since a third-place effort in the Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) at Meydan in late March. That was the third loss in succession for the six-year-old, who’s placed in the last two editions of the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1).

The stellar field also includes Grade 1 veteran Firenze Fire, who’s fared best at Belmont’s one-turn mile, though he was only fifth to Mitole in the Met Mile. Graded stakes winners Diamond Oops, last-out scorer in the Smile Sprint (G3), Strike Power, a close second in the True North last time, and Do Share are also among the field of seven.

A field of 13 will line up in the $250,000 Bowling Green (G2) over 1 3/8 miles on the inner turf, including Channel Maker, who dead-heated for the win with Glorious Empire in last year’s renewal. The Bill Mott trainee subsequently earned Grade 1 laurels in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic and Man o’ War.

Trainer Chad Brown has prime contenders in Pan American (G2) winner Focus Group, who has disappointed in his last pair but is three-for-five on the Saratoga turf, and Fort Marcy (G3) winner Olympico. South American raider Ya Primo also goes for Brown after earning multiple Group 1 wins in Chile earlier in the year.

Arklow enters off two narrow losses, to Channel Maker in the Man o’ War, and in the Belmont Gold Cup (G2). Multiple graded stakes winners Sadler’s Joy, Zulu Alpha, and Bigger Picture also merit strong looks in a contentious field.