February 22, 2024

Stakes newcomers take on Fort Bragg in Dwyer

Fort Bragg (right) finished second in the Pat Day Mile (G2) at Churchill Downs (Photo by Coady Photography)

The promising three-year-olds Saudi Crown and Harrodsburg both take significant leaps into graded stakes company for the first time on Saturday in the $200,000 Dwyer (G3) at Belmont Park over one mile.

Trained by Brad Cox, Saudi Crown is undefeated from two starts in Kentucky this spring for which he earned Brisnet Speed ratings of 101 and 95. Harrodsburg, meanwhile, won at first asking at Aqueduct by more than two lengths, but narrowly lost a stretch duel in his last start against allowance foes over the Belmont strip.

The more experienced rival that pair will have to beat, and one already proven over the distance, is the multiple Grade 2-placed Fort Bragg. Fifth in the San Felipe (G2) and Florida Derby (G1) to start the season, the son of Tapit was most recently second by a neck to General Jim in the Pat Day Mile (G2) at Churchill Downs.

“He’s got some miles under his belt now and his run at Churchill was really a fantastic effort,” said Tom Ryan, managing partner of co-owner SF Racing. “He didn’t get away from the gate the way we would have liked and he still managed to finish up strongly.”

Fort Bragg spiked a fever and was scratched from the June 10 Woody Stephens (G1), a race won by fellow Bob Baffert trainee Arabian Lion.

The field of six also includes Bay Shore (G3) winner Joey Freshwater and stakes newcomer Alternate Reality, who has won his last two starts.

The $250,000 John A. Nerud (G2), for older horses over seven furlongs, features rematch between Candy Man Rocket and Twisted Ride, one-two in the May 13 Runhappy (G3) over six furlongs.

“We’ve got several works into him and he’s been doing good. We’re anxious to see how he’ll do on Saturday,” said trainer Bill Mott of Candy Man Rocket.

The field of seven also includes Tom Fool H. (G3) winner Little Vic and Grade 3 veteran Weyburn, who debuts for Todd Pletcher after being previously trained by the now Saudi Arabia-based Jimmy Jerkens.