Four of the five entrants from the June 20 Woody Stephens (G1) will renew rivalry Saturday in the $500,000 H. Allen Jerkens (G1) at Saratoga, but this 7-furlong dash for 3-year-olds will be significantly higher in numbers than the one held downstate at Belmont.
No Parole led wire-to-wire in the Woody Stephens, winning by 3 3/4 lengths from Echo Town, with Shoplifted third and Mischevious Alex fourth. The waters will be a touch deeper with the addition of Grade 1 winner Eight Rings, who looks to rebound from a dull season-opener at Oaklawn for Bob Baffert, and the Mark Casse-trained Tap It to Win, who cuts back after setting a hot pace in the 1 1/8-mile Belmont S. (G1).
“I probably shouldn’t have brought him back in that last one,” said Baffert about the Apr. 25 Bachelor S., in which Eight Rings faded to fifth after pressing the pace. “That might have been a trainer error there. But he’s doing good and we’re taking a shot.”
Tap It to Win has been primarily a feast-or-famine type, but owns a win over the Saratoga strip and tried the year’s first classic after a stellar one-turn allowance win at Belmont over 1 1/16 miles 16 days before the Belmont.
“We’re excited to get him back out there in the Jerkens,” Casse said. “His one race at Saratoga was extremely good in a sprint. We’re hoping that going back there, he shows what he did last year.”
Three Technique, who earned minor checks in a pair of Kentucky Derby (G1) preps over the winter, shortens up for his first start since mid-March and could surprise for trainer Jeremiah Englehart.
The $200,000 Bowling Green Stakes (G2) over 1 3/8 miles on the turf has attracted a familiar cast of veterans, including Sadler’s Joy, Channel Maker, Cross Border, and Dot Matrix. All four faced each other in the July 4 Manhattan (G1), in which Sadler’s Joy edged Channel Maker for third by a neck with Cross Border a nose behind the latter. Dot Matrix finished a little farther up the track in eighth.
Sadler’s Joy is seeking his first victory since the Nov. 23 Red Smith (G3) at Aqueduct, while 2018 Bowling Green winner Channel Maker is winless since taking the Man o’ War (G1) in May 2019.
“He came out of the Manhattan doing really well. He’s been training very well and hopefully we just get a good trip,” said trainer Tom Albertrani regarding Sadler’s Joy. “The horse always seems to run his race. He’s been narrowly beaten in several races, but he shows up.”
Cross Border is wheeling back on relatively short rest having captured the July 22 Lubash S. for New York-breds by more than six lengths, while Grade 3 scorer Dot Matrix has a win and a place in two prior runs over the Saratoga turf.