March 2, 2024

Yoshida tries dirt in 14-horse Woodward; Chasing Yesterday invades for Spinaway

Yoshida recorded his first Grade 1 win when opening his four-year-old campaign in the May 5 Old Forester Turf Classic (c) Churchill Downs/Coady Photography

After racing exclusively on turf, Grade 1 winner Yoshida will switch turf-to-dirt in Saturday’s $750,000 Woodward (G1). He’s one of many contenders in a contentious 14-horse field and the prestigious Woodward headlines a blockbuster card featuring four graded stakes at Saratoga.

Trained by Bill Mott, Yoshida relishes the Woodward’s 1 1/8-mile distance, recording three of his four career wins at the trip including the Old Forester Turf Classic (G1) and Hill Prince (G3). He’s bred to handle the surface switch, with dam Hilda’s Passion winning a Grade 1 on dirt, and Yoshida is eligible to receive a ground-saving trip from his innermost post. Joel Rosario will be up.

Grade 2 winner Gunnevera, runner-up in last year’s Travers (G1) and a non-threatening third in the Pegasus World Cup (G1) three back, merits serious respect after returning from a freshening with a 6 1/2-length romp over allowance foes at Gulfstream Park on August 16. The four-year-old ships in from Florida for Antonio Sano and Edgard Zayas retains the mount.

Todd Pletcher will send out Tapwrit, who is seeking his first since triumph since last year’s Belmont Stakes (G1); and last-out Alydar third-placer Patch. Other runners include 2017 Clark (G1) hero Seeking the Soul, a head second in the July 14 Michael G. Schaefer Memorial at Indiana Grand; West Virginia Governor’s (G3) winner Leofric; Grade 3 scorer Hence, who exits a convincing stakes tally at Albuquerque for Steve Asmussen; last-out Monmouth Cup (G3) runner-up Zanotti; 2017 Charles Town Classic (G2) victor Imperative; and Whitney (G1) third-placer Discreet Lover.

Chasing Yesterday is bred to be a good one, a half-sister to 2015 Triple Crown winner and Horse of the Year American Pharoah, and the daughter of leading stallion Tapit sailed to a convincing debut win in a July 28 maiden special weight at Del Mar. The Bob Baffert-trained chestnut filly registered an excellent 92 BRIS Speed rating for the 4 1/4-length length win and Chasing Yesterday will ship cross-country for her stakes bow in the $350,000 Spinaway (G1), a “Win & You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1). She tops a field of 12 in the seven-furlong test and Mike Smith will be in to ride.

Restless Rider, an 11-length winner of the June 30 Debutante at Churchill Downs, and Schuylerville (G3) heroine Catherinethegreat are also part of the mix. Virginia Eloise, a fast-closing second in the August 11 Adirondack (G2), will try to mow down rivals late.

The $300,000 Saranac (G3), a 1 1/8-mile turf tilt for three-year-olds, marks the first turf attempt for juvenile Grade 1 winner and Triple Crown veteran Free Drop Billy. Luis Saez will guide and the Dale Romans pupil will meet eight challengers including Grade 2 victor Maraud, a nose second in the August 3 Hall of Fame (G2).

Santa Monica, winner of the June 30 Dance Smartly (Can-G2) at Woodbine, is one of three entrants from the Chad Brown shedrow in the $250,000 Glens Falls (G3). She’ll be joined in the 1 3/8-mile inner turf affair by stablemates Homeland Security and Onthemoonagain. A total of nine distaffers, including a main-track only runner, are entered.