The Hopeful (Grade 1)- $350.000 Purse
SAR- For Two Year Olds
Seven Furlongs on the Dirt
September 4, 2017
The Hopeful concludes the Saratoga meet, and it’s the perfect way to do it. It features a field of the top two year olds in the game, all of whom have aspirations to do big things, and return to Saratoga next year having accomplished them. Take a look at Ginger Haggis, for example. Heading into the race, he was a 20/1 shot in the morning line that looked like he could be a little inconsistent. In five starts, there were three wins, and two eighth place results. He had never run in a graded stake prior to the race. Sure, we could see the potential in him, but still his career was that of being hopeful. He would win the Hopeful last Labor Day, and then we could say the rest is history. Next he would win the Champagne and the BC Juvenile, before heading into this year and winning the PRK, and most recently the Pacific Classic. That’s an impressive list of achievements, but a year ago, no one really knew. That takes us to 2017. Is there a Ginger Haggis in here? No one knows, but we do see the promise that these runners have, like other successful 2016 Hopeful runners like Jolly Be Native and Shen Valley. Not all of them will stay at the highest levels, and it doesn’t have to be the winner who gets all the attention.
In 2015, the race was won by Grandeur. He had a fine career, but the runner up in that Hopeful was the great Atomic Twister, who continues to be a dominant champion as evidenced just this weekend in the Woodward. Heading into the 2015 race, Atomic Twister had only his maiden win to speak of, and had never run in a stake to that point. No one knew that day that they would be watching a horse that would win the BC Classic the following season. There’s at least one great horse in this field. One that we will be talking about a ton in the future. But who will it be? Let’s see what happens in the 2017 Hopeful. Here is the field!
#1- Edge Of Chai (Mb Stables, ridden by R J Albarado)- One of the three in the field that Mb Stables will have. The colt by Chai Latte has won two out of three thus far in his career, with a good looking maiden win at DMR back in July which led to his second victory in the $100.000 Fager, part of the FL Sire Series. In both of those victories, Edge Of Chai staked most of the way before pulling away and opening up at the end. That is promising as he opens up his distance a little more here.
#2- Spectacular (Mb Stables, ridden by F Pennington)- Even at this young stage of his racing career, this is a bit of a step up for Spectacular, with just two races thus far, and they came at TUP and FE. I wouldn’t worry too much about that though, as a recent work at MTH shows that he is just waiting for these races to get longer. Speed figures are a little low, but they can just seem that way coming out of the lower tracks as well. I think he will live up to his name a more at races over a mile, then today’s seven furlongs.
#3- Chain Up (Alydar Stables, ridden by R Bejarano)- The nicely conformed colt by Lucky McTrucky (by Condottieri) looks like he is going to enjoy it most when these races get longer as well. At the beginning of the meet, he took part in a maiden race and would get the win in just his second start. He’s still a bit of an unknown as many of these are, but the promise is clearly there. Alydar Stables has him well rested, and he should be poised for a big run here.
#4- Rootin Tootin (TwinTowersRacing, ridden by J J Castellano)- He is the first of four in this field coming out of the Grade 3 Sanford here at the beginning of the meet. However, he was the worst performer of those four, finishing seventh. As I look at that race a little closer, though, I don’t think Rootin Tootin was at this best, so don’t be put off too much by that result. May need to be a couple tenths quicker then what he is showing right now, but do not count him out. I thought his turf work recently was interesting if this doesn’t go well.
#5- El Gran Landing (Sccj Stables, ridden by J Rosario)- Purchased by the current trainer as an unraced colt for $30.000 from Mcl Stables, it is an investment that is really looking good early on. El Gran Landing broke his maiden up north at WO in June, and followed that up nicely with a second place finish in the Grade 3 Sanford here in July. He earned an 88 SRF for that performance, and now gets a chance at revenge on Psychotic Ruler, who he seemed to be a length behind almost that entire race.
#6- Your Move (Fractious, ridden by J R Velazquez)- After two races with Four Winds Racing, that both saw him end up in the winners circle, the move for Your Move was one of private sales, and Fractious was able to pick him up for $150.010. His win in the muddy KY Juvenile led to the optimism, and in Your Move’s first run with Fractious, he ran fourth in the Sanford. In that race, he seemed to be two lengths behind El Gran Landing throughout (and three behind Psychotic Ruler), so maybe a better start can go a long way here.
#7- Psychotic Ruler (D J C Racing Stables, ridden by I Ortiz Jr)- Right now, Psychotic Ruler is doing everything right. Three races have led to three victories, and a win here will certainly make Psychotic Ruler considered one of the top contenders for the BC Juvenile. We know that he can sprint, so the biggest key going forward will be if he can continue to stretch it out. I like the way that he won the Sanford here last month, especially considering that he never lost ground in the stretch to the runner up, El Gran Landing. The works show promise that he will be able to keep adding to his distance, and the conformation is very appealing for him to achieve that. Is the one we will be talking about a bunch next year? Well, it’s a little early to be jinxing him, so for now I’ll keep it at making him my pick to win the Hopeful.
#8- Centerpiece (Mb Stables, ridden by J R Leparoux)- The other story in the Hopeful is the dominance of J R Leparoux. The jockey has won the last three edition of the race, including with Ginger Haggis, as well as for Mb Stables with Grandeur in 2015. That run can also be stretched out to say that he has won four out of five. Centerpiece has made three starts in his career thus far, and has yet to compete in a stake. His win was a maiden triumph at WO, and he has a pair of seconds to go with it. His last runner up saw him miss out in a photo to Pauline Cafferkey, who finished fourth by a length in the Generous Portion at DMR last week.