Patch will be the sentimental favorite, Timeline figures to be the actual favorite, and neither has to win Sunday’s $100,000 Alydar Stakes, which drew a compact but competitive five-horse field at Saratoga.
The Alydar, at 1 1/8 miles, is for horses whose connections didn’t think they were ready for Saturday’s Grade 1, $1.2 million Whitney, but who may have a thought about the Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward here Sept. 1.
Patch, a fan favorite due to his story of having just one eye, made a nice 4-year-old debut at Belmont, winning an allowance race on May 12. He stepped back into Grade 1 company in his next start, finishing seventh behind Pavel in the Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs.
“Second start off a layoff, it might have been too ambitious at that time, so we’ll take a step back into this and hopefully build back up,” trainer Todd Pletcher said.
Timeline, a multiple graded stakes winner at 3, is 1 for 3 this year. In his most recent start, he finished second to Sunny Ridge in the State Dinner Stakes at Belmont on July 6.
“I didn’t see an excuse for him,” trainer Chad Brown said. “The race two back was a very, very good race. [Last time] he just wasn’t the same, maybe because he found himself on the lead.”
If Timeline doesn’t want the lead Sunday, Outplay, another horse trained by Pletcher, may take it. Last year, he won the Curlin Stakes here by 5 3/4 lengths going gate to wire.
In his last two starts, Outplay caught a sloppy track in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Stakes and then ran eighth in the Grade 2 Brooklyn, something Pletcher called “a bad [owner] Mike Repole idea.”
Kurilov, the other Chad Brown entrant in the Alydar, is returning to dirt after four straight starts on turf. Brown said that Kurilov, a Group 1 winner in Chile in 2017, has been a puzzle he has yet to solve.
“We’re trying to find his sweet spot,” Brown said. “Usually I have a good handle on these things. At least I try my best to get them into what they were meant to do and manage them from there. This horse has been a bit confusing. He first came over and looked like a versatile horse. I’m trying to find out what he wants to do in regards to distance and surface.”
Last weekend, Kurilov did work well in company with Backyard Heaven, who was scheduled to run in Saturday’s Grade 1 Whitney.
Realm, trained by Barclay Tagg, is coming off an allowance win at Belmont on June 29 and could show early speed from the rail under Junior Alvarado.
The Alydar goes as race 10 on an 11-race card that also includes the Grade 3, $200,000 Troy Handicap for sprinters.
This story originally appeared on DRF.com.
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