Trainer Christophe Clement admitted he probably made a mistake when he stretched out Disco Partner to finish fifth last month in the one-mile Forbidden Apple at Belmont Park. But make no mistake about it, Disco Partner is strictly the one to beat when he turns back to 5 1/2 furlongs for Sunday’s $200,000 Troy Handicap at Saratoga.
Disco Partner was the defending champ in the Forbidden Apple, but he just didn’t kick on as well at the end of the race as he did last summer when he rallied to a 3 1/4-length victory. Now 6, Disco Partner continues to hold his form amazingly well, having won the Grade 2 Jaipur for the second straight year during the spring for his 10th victory in 24 career starts. He won the Troy two summers ago by a neck over Green Mask.
“It was probably a mistake to run him at a mile, but he came back in good shape, and I shipped him up here right away after the race,” said Clement, who trains the homebred Disco Partner for Patricia Generazio. “I’m probably running him back a little quickly, and I’m worried a little bit about the bounce, but there aren’t any turf sprints in New York until October, and it looks like a good spot for him.”
Disco Partner carried only 116 pounds when he won the Troy two years ago. He’ll be the highweight under 124 pounds on Sunday, conceding up to eight pounds to his seven rivals.
Clement said he was concerned about the weight spread.
“But I was aware of it before we entered, and it’s a handicap, so you have to accept it,” he said.
Heavy rain on Friday also created the prospect of a less-than-firm turf course for the Grade 3 Troy.
“I prefer it not too soft for a horse like him because he’s got natural speed,” said Clement. “A course too soft can take that advantage away from a fast horse, and you don’t want to take away what they’re born with. But he’ll run either way if the race stays on the grass. He’ll scratch if the race comes off.”
Several horses who have chased Disco Partner home in turf-sprint stakes will take him on again in the Troy. That group includes Holding Gold, a wide-running fourth in the Jaipur; Ready for Rye, beaten 1 1/4 lengths by Disco Partner when second last fall in the Belmont Turf Sprint; and Blind Ambition, seventh after a wide trip in the Jaipur.
Sandy’z Slew enters in peak form and likely will prove the one to catch while coming off easy wire-to-wire optional-claiming wins in his last two starts.
Tombelaine appears to be rounding back to his peak form. He was claimed two starts back for $62,500 by trainer Robertino Diodoro, and paid quick dividends by outlasting the Clement-trained White Flag in winning an allowance race by a half-length at Belmont on June 17.
Square Shooter, stepping up in company off two straight wins, and Eastwood likely would be the major beneficiaries if rain should wash the Troy onto the main track.
This story originally appeared on DRF.com.
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