Salvator Mile (G3) — Monmouth Park Race 10 (4:28 p.m. ET)
The hard-knocking Ny Traffic found one rival too good last year in races like the Belmont S. (G1), Haskell (G1), and Louisiana Derby (G2), but on Saturday is a prime candidate to earn his first graded win in the $150,000 Salvator Mile (G3) at Monmouth Park.
Up the track in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness (G1) last fall after narrowly missing to eventual Derby winner and Horse of the Year Authentic in the Haskell, Ny Traffic was away from the races seven months. His prep for the Salvator was an easy one, a 6 3/4-length romp against New York-bred allowance foes at Belmont on May 2.
“He came back in a big way. He won emphatically,” trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. said. “We were hoping he would win but we never envisioned he would run like that in his first race back after seven months off.
Pirate’s Punch won last year’s Salvator Mile by two lengths, a month after being disqualified from first in the Philip H. Iselin (G3). The Grant Forster trainee has not been out since trailing the field in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G3) in November, after which he underwent surgery to remove an ankle chip.
“After his surgery we took our time with him and did the proper rehab. Hopefully we have a foundation in him,” Forster said. “He’s doing fantastic. He seems like he’s a bigger, stronger horse this year.”
Grade 1 veteran Basin has primarily been a one-turn specialist. After capturing the May 27 Sir Shackleton S. at Gulfstream off a long layoff, though, the Todd Pletcher charge failed to fire in the seven-furlong Churchill Downs (G1) on Kentucky Derby Day.
Bal Harbour placed in the both the Salvator Mile and Iselin the last two seasons, but faces a tough task in his first start since late November. Stakes newcomer West Will Power has never been worse than second in five starts and enters off a dominating score in an allowance at Keeneland over a sloppy track.