February 20, 2024

Copper Bullet looks to make amends in Saratoga Special after troubled trip

Copper Bullet breaking his maiden by an eight-length margin at Churchill Downs on May 25, 2017

Take nothing away from the winner, but Copper Bullet was defeated in the Bashford Manor (G3) by his own volition. The Steve Asmussen-trained colt has the opportunity to shrug off the eventful runner-up finish in Sunday’s $200,000 Saratoga Special (G2) if he can keep his head together.

A brilliant eight-length maiden winner in his second career outing, Copper Bullet broke last among five runners in the June 30 Bashford Manor at Churchill Downs. But instead of stalking the pace, the son of More Than Ready abruptly took off for the lead along the inside entering the far turn. The jockey was briefly able to get control, easing Copper Bullet back off a longshot pacesetter rounding the bend, but more trouble loomed as the 2-year-old was forced to steady hard behind rivals entering the stretch.

Copper Bullet made a nice run at the winning Ten City before settling for runner-up honors and obviously appears capable of better with a clean trip. But we’ll see whether the youngster can put immature behavior behind him. Copper Bullet shows a recent 5-furlong bullet work in preparation and adds the hot-riding Irad Ortiz Jr. And he could benefit from receiving the far outside post among nine runners in the 6 ½-furlong Saratoga Special.

Mo Diddley will look to make a serious impact in his first stakes attempt. The son of Uncle Mo overcame missing the break and drifting wide in the stretch to score at Churchill Downs May 18 and the dark bay colt was flattered when the fourth-place finisher (Shangroyal) came back to capture a salty maiden special weight at Belmont Park in early July. Mark Casse has freshened his charge nearly three months and Javier Castellano will take over the reins.

“We’re really excited and think he (can be) a superstar,” Casse said. “He’s only started one time. Watching the head-on (camera), they broke and he took a right-hand turn, which 2-year-olds often do when they break on the outside the first time. He went out of the picture and then all of a sudden, he reappeared and he still won.”

Casse also trains Classic Empire and favorably compared Mo Diddley to the 2016 champion juvenile male.

“Right now, we think he could possibly be our next Classic Empire.”

Tempestad is another debut winner by Uncle Mo, prevailing as the favorite at Belmont Park May 18, and the bay colt will make his second appearance Sunday for Todd Pletcher. However, Tempestad loses the services of John Velazquez, who will stick with the Pletcher-trained Bal Harbour following a fifth in the Sanford (G3) at Saratoga earlier in the meet. Joel Rosario picks up the mount on Tempestad. Bal Harbour and Tempestad are the only contestants who made their last start in New York.

Trainer Horacio DePaz has an intriguing first-out winner from Laurel Park, Barry Lee, who romped wire-to-wire by a 6 ½-length margin on July 14. Leading rider Jose Ortiz picks up the mount on the Violence colt. Hollywood Star will be running late for Dale Romans following a rallying half-length decision at Churchill Downs on June 28. Robby Albarado sticks with $550,000 son of Malibu Moon.

Diamond Oops invades from South Florida in good form, posting a 2-for-2 record for Patrick Biancone. By Lookin at Lucky, the bay colt posted a facile 3 ¼-length tally most recently in the July 1 Kiss a Native at Gulfstream Park. Luis Saez retains the mount. Kelly Breen has entered Vino, a Florida-bred colt from the first-crop of Treasure Beach who rolled to a 7 ½-length debut victory in an off-the-turf maiden special weight at Monmouth Park on July 14. Crea’s Bklyn Law, a last-out maiden winner at Delaware Park, completes the field.