Saturday, August 30, 2014

Ring Weekend steps up on the grass for G3 Saranac

The New York Racing Association, Inc.

Saturday, August 30, 2014


Contact: Heather Pettinger

(718) 759-2351


Ring Weekend steps up on the grass for G3 Saranac


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - St. Elias Stable and West Point Thoroughbred's Ring Weekend is set as the 8-5 morning line favorite as he tackles his biggest turf assignment to date in the Grade 3, $300,000 Saranac for 3-year-olds at Saratoga Race Course on Labor Day.

The son of Tapit will bookend the summer meeting after having finished second to Tourist in the one-mile Sir Cat on opening day, and now stretching out to 1 1/8 miles on the Mellon turf course on the final day at the Spa.

Already a graded stakes winner, Ring Weekend explored the Triple Crown trail this spring with a Grade 2 win in the Tampa Bay Derby, as well as a fifth-place effort in the Preakness Stakes, but trainer Graham Motion never ruled out the gelding's return to turf.

"I think we thought he ran really well on the grass in Florida [a 7 ½-furlong maiden special weight at Gulfstream]," Motion said. "But because of the time of year it was, we wanted to try him on the dirt. Obviously, in the spring of their 3-year-old year you want to see how they handle the dirt. And it worked out because he won the Tampa Derby.

"I had always had in mind that we might get him back on the grass because his numbers on the grass were very good and I always thought he handled the grass very well," he added.

Todd Pletcher will send the New York-bred Storm to step up in class in the Saranac. The gelded son of Artie Schiller notched two state-restricted wins in a row before branching out to win an open-company allowance on August 9.

"He's been perfect on the turf course here so far, and it's hard to win four races on the grass [including his maiden-breaking debut at Aqueduct in November]," Pletcher said. "He went through his New York-bred conditions and then won the open race. So we feel like he continues to make progress. This will be the toughest test to date, but so far he's handled everything we've thrown at him on the turf."

Cabo Cat, another graduate of the $100,000 Sir Cat, who trailed the field that day before getting up for a fourth-place finish, hopes to benefit from the longer break between races.

"I thought I ran him back too quickly last time," said trainer Mark Hennig. "I was kind of aggravated at myself for doing that. That was opening day, so he's going to get the full six and half weeks between races. I think he's training well, he should show up and run well. I just hope the weather holds up."

Wallyanna looks to add a second graded stakes to his resume. The Langfur colt got up late to upset Bobby's Kitten's comeback race on August 8 with a one-length score in the Grade 2 Hall of Fame.

Claimed for $35,000 in his second career start, the Michael Pino-trainee has had three wins from four starts for owner Tim O'Donohue and is four for six in his career.

If, however, the weather does fail to cooperate, two main track-only entrants, Life in Shambles and Lunar Rover, could be major factors.

Stakes-placed Life in Shambles is still looking to break through with his first stakes win after finishing seventh for Christophe Clement in the Curlin Stakes on July 25.

"He trains very well on a wet track," Clement said of the Broken Vow gelding. "I think it's a fine spot to be if the race comes off the grass."

Lunar Rover, from James Bond's barn, will join stakes company for the first time if the race moves to the main track. The Malibu Moon colt broke his maiden impressively in an off-the-turf 1 1/8-mile special weight on July 27. On that day, Lunar Rover stalked the early pace and rolled away to a 9 ¾-length victory on a muddy and sealed track, earning a 100 Beyer Speed Figure for the effort.

The Saranac field will also include Predicting, Beyond Smart, Smooth Daddy and Bashart.

The field for the Grade 3, $300,000 Saranac:












Ring Weekend




J R. Velazquez


Graham Motion



Life in Shambles (MTO)




J Rosario


C Clement







D Davis


J M. Antonucci



Cabo Cat




R Maragh


M A. Hennig







J Castellano


T A. Pletcher



Beyond Smart




R Napravnik


J E. Sheppard



Smooth Daddy




J L. Ortiz


T Albertrani







L Saez


M R. Matz



Lunar Rover (MTO)




S Bridgmohan


H James Bond







I Ortiz, Jr.


M V. Pino









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