Vitalogy works out at Santa Anita on Oct. 27
Qatar Racing Limited, Marc Detampel and Bottle Rocket Stable’s Vitalogy, scratched from a planned start in the Breeders’ Cup last fall, is set to make his eagerly awaited seasonal debut in Saturday’s $150,000 Palm Beach (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
The 34th running of the 1 1/16-mile Palm Beach for 3-year-olds on grass is among 10 stakes, nine graded, worth $1.95 million on a blockbuster 14-race program highlighted by the $400,000 Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth (G2). First-race post time is 11:30 a.m.
Vitalogy drew outside Post 12 under Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano in the Palm Beach, which kicks off Saturday’s graded-stakes action. Castellano was also named to ride in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G3) Nov. 1 at Santa Anita before the son of French Group 1 winner No Nay Never was withdrawn after being examined by regulatory veterinarians.
The Breeders’ Cup would have been the second start with trainer Brendan Walsh for Vitalogy following a runner-up finish in the 1 1/16-mile Bourbon (G3). Breaking from the 14 post, Vitalogy trailed all horses for a half-mile before launching a furious comeback that came up a neck short.
“He ran great. It was literally an impossible draw and he ran really well. We were delighted with that,” Walsh said. “We brought him to the Breeders’ Cup, but they didn’t seem to think that he was sound enough to run for whatever reason. We brought him home, got him checked out, there was absolutely nothing wrong with him and here we are.”
Vitalogy broke his maiden at first asking last July in Ireland, then finished fourth by three lengths in the Tattersalls Acomb Stakes (G3) four weeks later in England. Less than a month later, he made his North American debut rallying to be third in the one-mile Summer (G1) over a yielding Woodbine turf course, beaten less than two lengths.
Unable to run in the Breeders’ Cup, the connections opted to give Vitalogy a break rather than look for another race and point for a 3-year-old campaign.
“We gave him a bit of time anyway because he needed it. He’d had a long year and we’re hoping that he’s going to turn into a really nice 3-year-old,” Walsh said. “He’s great. He’s done really well physically over the break and he’s been working well, so we’re looking forward to running him. Hopefully, we’ll have a good year with the horse.”
Vitalogy has been working steadily for his return since mid-January at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County. Castellano was also up for the Bourbon at Keeneland.
“We’ve got plenty of work into him. Sometimes they are [fresh] but you never really know until you actually put them out there,” Walsh said. “He’s a grand horse. He’s very nice, pretty straightforward. He seems like he’s done well, so we’re pretty hopeful that he’ll run well on Saturday. We look forward to it.”
Toby Morton’s Famished returned to graded competition in the Palm Beach after finishing fifth, beaten 1 ½ lengths, in the one-mile Dania Beach Feb. 1 at Gulfstream under two-time Eclipse Award winner Irad Ortiz Jr., will race with blinkers for the first time.
Famished capped his juvenile season with fourth-place finishes in the one-mile Nashua (G3) on dirt Nov. 3 at Aqueduct and 1 1/16-mile Pilgrim (G3) Sept. 28 on the Belmont Park turf, the latter by 1 ¾ lengths. Manny Franco is named to ride from Post 10.
“I thought he had a pretty good run last time. Irad made the suggestion to try a set of cheater blinkers on him because he was always trying to niggle him to try and keep him in contact with the field,” trainer John Kimmel said. “He got beat a length for the whole thing and had a little bit of trouble, but he said maybe that would kind of keep him up on the bridle and make it a little easier where he wouldn’t have to overcome so much. He’s worked twice with the blinkers and worked lights out with them so we’ll see what he does on Saturday.”
Calumet Farm homebred Bee Catcher is making the jump to stakes company for his fifth career start off a one-length maiden special weight triumph Jan. 18 at Gulfstream for trainer Graham Motion. He shares turf champion English Channel as a sire with stablemate English Bee, a three-time stakes winner including the Virginia Derby (G3) that is entered in Saturday’s $150,000 Canadian Turf (G3).
“I was really pleased with his run last time. This is going to be a big step up for him, obviously, but looking at the form there’s quite a few horses like him that just broke their maiden. The timing is good and I just thought it made sense to put him in there,” Motion said. “He and English Bee are very similar types. They’re both kind of not super impressive in the morning but hard-knocking, tough horses in the afternoon. They’re bred very similarly. They act very similarly. They’re almost a mirror of each other. If he can kind of raise to the level that English Bee did, that would be tremendous.”
South Bend, a stakes winner on dirt last fall who ran third by a neck in the Dania Beach in his turf debut; recent Gulfstream maiden winners Sassy But Smart, Fancy Liquor and Life On Top; and Tiesto, Street Ready, Algorilla, Turn of Events and Fenwick Station complete the field.
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