A little cutback in distance and a lot of class relief should be the right combination to put Pocket Change back in the winner’s circle when he faces seven rivals in Friday’s $100,000 Lucky Coin Stakes over the Mellon turf course at Saratoga. The 5 1/2-furlong Lucky Coin is carded for 4-year-olds and up who have not won a stakes in 2018.
Pocket Change opened his career with three consecutive turf-sprint victories before suffering his first defeat when stepping up against some of the best of his division on the East Coast and finishing fifth, beaten just over a length, in the Grade 2 Jaipur late this spring at Belmont Park. Pocket Change stretched out to a mile for the first time five weeks later in the Forbidden Apple only to stumble at the break and never factor in a race won by Voodoo Song, who came back to upset the Grade 1 Fourstardave here earlier this month.
“He might have been a little ambitiously placed in the Jaipur running against horses like Disco Partner and Pure Sensation – they’re really tough – but I thought he ran very well,” said Jason Servis, who trains Pocket Change for Gary and Mary West. “His pedigree says he should run two miles, so I tried him in the Forbidden Apple and then he stumbled right out of the gate. For now, sprinting looks like his game, so I think we’ve got him back in a good spot on Friday.”
Servis was also pleased that he drew the outside post in the Lucky Coin with Pocket Change, who’ll reunite with Irad Ortiz Jr., his rider for all three victories to launch his career.
“I’m glad we can be outside that horse coming off the claim,” said Servis referring to Rocket Heat. “Looking over the field, he’s the one I’m most afraid of.”
Rocket Heat is coming off a wire-to-wire four-length victory when haltered for $62,500 here earlier in the meet. Now trained by Mike Tannuzzo, the speedy son of Latent Heat finished second in stakes at Pimlico and Presque Isle Downs prior to his latest win. The 96 Beyer Speed Figure he earned for capturing his local bow is the highest last-out number of any member of the Lucky Coin lineup.
The well-traveled Extravagant Kid makes his local debut after returning to turf to finish second behind Jazzy Times in a 5 1/2-furlong stakes earlier this month at Ellis Park. Extravagant Kid was a two-time stakes winner on grass last season at Gulfstream Park.
The 9-year-old Spring to the Sky and 8-year-old Bold Thunder, a couple of old war horses who between them have made 89 starts, will try to get back to the winner’s circle after prolonged absences in the Lucky Coin. Spring to the Sky finished sixth in this race a year ago and is coming off an improved showing when second behind Rocket Heat here on July 29.
Completing the lineup are Ready for Rye, who is dropping out of a couple of Grade 3 stakes, Big Rock, and Axtell.
This story originally appeared on DRF.com.
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