Horse Racing

Pletcher Points Sainthood To Belmont Derby; Happy Saver Suburban Bound

Happy Saver winning his first start since taking the Jockey Club Gold Cup last Oct. 10

The Grade 2, $200,000 Pennine Ridge did not end up being the turf debut that Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher had in mind for Sainthood when inclement weather forced the nine-furlong test onto the main track at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y. Nevertheless, Sainthood recorded his first graded stakes triumph, registering a career-best 86 Beyer Speed Figure.

Since finishing 11th in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby earlier this month, Pletcher breezed the Mshawish colt twice on grass. His anticipated turf debut will come in his next start however, as Sainthood is targeting the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Derby Invitational on July 10, first leg of the Turf Triple series.

Owned by WinStar Farm and CHC, Sainthood broke his maiden over the main track at Fair Grounds Race Course en route to a runner-up finish in the Grade 3 Jeff Ruby Steaks on March 20 over the all-weather surface at Turfway Park.

“I talked to [WinStar Farm CEO and racing manager] Elliot Walden after the race and felt like the Belmont Derby is probably the logical place to point,” Pletcher said Sunday morning. “He still has to prove himself on turf but judging by the way he ran on synthetic and the way he breezes on the turf, he should take to it. It’s a big race and we have the option of going back to the dirt down the road, but we’ll focus on the turf for now.”

Pletcher said Wertheimer et Frere’s Happy Saver will return to graded stakes action in the Grade 2, $400,000 Suburban on July 3, a Breeders’ Cup “Win And You’re In” event for the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic.

The son of 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver, also trained by Pletcher, made his 4-year-old debut a winning one on Friday against salty allowance company going a one-turn mile at Belmont Park. The conquest, which garnered a 96 Beyer, kept his undefeated record intact with his previous effort taking place in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup in October.

A start in the historic 10-furlong test could result in a rematch with Group 1 Dubai World Cup winner Mystic Guide, who previously finished second to Happy Saver in the Jockey Club Gold Cup and also is targeting the Suburban.

“He came out of it in good order, I thought he ran well off the bench,” Pletcher said. “We didn’t have him fully cranked up, so being able to come back and win off the layoff off sort of a moderate work tab was good. Hopefully, he’ll move forward off that, the Suburban is on the radar. Timing wise, it’s good, he’s bred to go a mile and a quarter and obviously has already won at that distance. That’s the most likely target.”


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