ELMONT, N.Y. – Trainer Mike Maker doesn’t know if running three times in 38 days at Saratoga caught up to his 2-year-old Somelikeithotbrown in the late stages of the Grade 3 With Anticipation Stakes when he finished second to Opry.
Maker is hoping that with 31 days since his last start, Somelikeithotbrown will be able to run with Opry late when the two meet again in Saturday’s Grade 3, $200,000 Pilgrim Stakes at Belmont Park. The Pilgrim, run at 1 1/16 miles on turf, is a key prep for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Churchill Downs on Nov. 2.
Somelikeithotbrown, a son of Big Brown, finished seventh in his July 23 debut, which came on dirt after the race was rained off the turf. He came back 16 days later to win a turf maiden race by eight lengths. Though scheduled to be run at 1 1/16 miles, that race was run at 1 1/8 miles owing to a yet-to-be-explained mistake. Three weeks later, in the With Anticipation, Somelikeithotbrown got the jump on Opry, but it was Opry who came with a strong late run under Javier Castellano to get the win.
Asked if he felt the busy schedule got to his horse in the late stages of that race, Maker said, “I didn’t see it; I’m hoping.”
“I thought he ran well for his third start of the meet,” Maker added. “Hopefully, with more time, we can turn the tables on Opry.”
Like Somelikeithotbrown, Opry’s debut came in a race scheduled for turf that was washed out to the dirt. Opry ran third behind Cairo Cat, who came back to win the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs.
Eighteen days later, Opry, trained by Todd Pletcher, overcame a slow break to rally from last and win the With Anticipation going away.
Opry has since come back with two solid works over Saratoga’s turf course. His most recent work came in company with the maiden Social Paranoia, whom Pletcher also entered in the Pilgrim. Social Paranoia, second in 3 of his 4 starts, is getting blinkers for the first time in the Pilgrim.
Forty Under, who beat Social Paranoia in his turf debut, is back in this field.
Spirit Animal was a good-looking maiden winner on turf at Saratoga on Sept. 1 for trainer Chad Brown.
Trainer Mike Dilger entered the uncoupled entry of Dashing Dan and Vineyard Sound. Dashing Dan was beaten 12 3/4 lengths by Somelikeithotbrown in his debut, and came back to win his maiden going 1 1/16 miles on turf at Saratoga. Vineyard Sound is making his turf debut after running second to Standard Deviation in an off-the-turf race on Aug. 18.
Ole Mole, Pipes, and Rhythm With Soul complete the field.
This story originally appeared on DRF.com.
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