Strike Power’s summer hasn’t gone according to plan, and trainer Mark Hennig will set him on a new path Monday at Saratoga in the Better Talk Now, a restricted stakes that has attracted a field of nine, plus a main-track-only entrant.
The Better Talk Now is a one-mile turf race for 3-year-olds who have never won a stakes at a mile or longer. Strike Power, who will be making his turf debut, fits those conditions perfectly. He won the Grade 3 Swale at seven furlongs in February and finished second in the 1 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth in March.
In his last two starts, the son of Speightstown has finished eighth in the Woody Stephens at Belmont Park and fourth in the Amsterdam at Saratoga. Strike Power chased an extremely fast pace in the Woody Stephens and then vied on the lead with eventual winner Promises Fulfilled in the Amsterdam through fractions of 21.28 and 43.92 seconds.
Promises Fulfilled, who was scheduled to start in the H. Allen Jerkens Memorial on Saturday, defeated Strike Power in the Fountain of Youth.
“I think he’s going to be happy to look over and not see Promises Fulfilled in the gate Monday,” Hennig joked.
Hennig and owner Don Adam of Courtlandt Farms have long discussed trying Strike Power on turf.
“His female family is all turf or Poly, so we’ve wanted to try it, and this looks like a good opportunity,” Hennig said.
Strike Power’s dam, Gold d’Oro, was 4 for 17 on turf. Her dam, Gold Canyon, produced Adriano, who won the Grade 2 Lane’s End on Polytrack at Turfway Park and the Grade 3 Kent on turf at Delaware Park.
Strike Power worked a bullet half-mile on turf in 47.80 at Saratoga on Aug. 10. He has since breezed a half-mile over the main track in 48.20.
“He got over the turf really well,” Hennig said. “Then I worked him from off the pace against a horse on the dirt.”
Hennig said he doesn’t think Strike Power will go too fast early in the Better Talk Now. He will start from post 1 under John Velazquez.
“He’ll turn off,” Hennig said. “He’s never been a rank horse. We’ll just have him roll out of there and let Johnny make the decisions.”
Strike Power isn’t the only horse in the Better Talk Now who will be attempting to regain his form of last spring. Combatant, Ceevee, and Rose’s Vision are in the same boat.
Combatant finished second in the Southwest, third in the Rebel, and fourth in the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park for Steve Asmussen. He has since finished off the board in the Kentucky Derby, the Matt Winn at Churchill Downs, and the Hall of Fame over yielding turf here.
Ceevee posted front-running turf scores over maiden and optional-claiming company at Gulfstream Park last winter for Kelly Breen. This will be his first race since February.
Rose’s Vision scored back-to-back wins in maiden and allowance company at Gulfstream and Keeneland for Stuart Simon but is winless in four stakes starts since then at Woodbine.
Bill Mott will equip both of his entrants – Irish Territory and Westerland – with blinkers for the first time. Irish Territory will be dropping significantly in class after facing Catholic Boy and Analyze It in the Pennine Ridge.
Have At It has won two of his last four, all for Christophe Clement; Prioritize is 2 for his last 3, all for James Bond; and Corot moves to the barn of Tom Morley following a maiden win over Tapeta at Woodbine.
Roaming Union, who raced in the Haskell for Breen, will start only if the race is moved to the dirt.
This story originally appeared on DRF.com.
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