March 4, 2024

Green Mask, Pure Sensation continue rivalry in Troy

Green Mask winning the Twin Spires Turf Sprint (Coady Photography)

The effect of a purse increase from $100,000 in 2016 to $250,000 this year is quite evident in Sunday’s Troy H. at Saratoga, which has attracted nearly every significant turf sprinter east of the Mississippi to dash 5 1/2 furlongs over the Mellon turf.

Green Mask, first or second in his last six starts including wins in the Twin Spires Turf Sprint (G3) and Highlander (G2) in Canada, was installed the 8-5 morning line favorite in the Troy, a race he lost by a neck to Disco Partner last season. That rival beat him again two starts back in the Jaipur (G3) by a half-length, but is the only noticeable absentee from an outstanding field.

“He has beat [most of] the horses in this race at one point, so I think he should be able to handle the competition and we are looking forward to him running on Sunday,” trainer Brad Cox said.

Disco Partner’s stable companion Pure Sensation, who started off the season with fourth-place efforts in the Twin Spires Turf Sprint and Jaipur, got back on the winning track in the July 8 Parx Dash (G3), which he dominated by 5 3/4 lengths over former Breeders’ Cup winner Mongolian Saturday and Bold Thunder. A multiple graded stakes winner last season and third in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1), Pure Sensation boasts a 3-2-0-1 mark on the Saratoga turf.

“Pure Sensation has more natural speed [than Disco Partner],” trainer Christophe Clement said. “The Troy should be a very good race. A tough race. I think he can be competitive with anybody, and I am excited to see him run.”

Long On Value relished a cutback to sprinting at “The Spa” last summer when taking the $100,000 Lucky Coin, and then was a neck behind Disco Partner in the Troy. Beaten in a photo in the Al Quoz Sprint (G1) in Dubai March 25, the Bill Mott charge looks to rebound from a nondescript 12th in the Diamond Jubilee (G1) at Royal Ascot.

Former Diamond Jubilee winner Undrafted is looking to recapture better form on Sunday, while Holding Gold hopes to maintain his over a course he relished in 2016 when taking the $100,000 Quick Call. The Mark Casse trainee upset the Shakertown (G2) at Keeneland in April at 18-1, didn’t handle soft ground in the Twin Spires Turf Sprint, and missed by only a length in the Jaipur.

“He’s been training extremely well,” Casse said. “He got beat by a length and that’s when they broke the world record. We gave him a bit of a break after that. He’s won here going 5 1/2. It’s a [tough distance]. I wish it was three-quarters but a lot of it has to do with the track. I always have concerns, but it is what it is.”

Earlier in the card, Rally Cry is the morning line favorite in the $100,000 Alydar, a restricted 1 1/8-mile stakes for older horses that has also attracted graded stakes-winning veterans Mo Tom, Red Rifle, and Mohaymen.