It appears that the 105th running Monday of the $150,000 Saratoga Special (G2) at Saratoga racetrack is shaping up to be a favorite's special.
Trainer Steve Asmussen’s 4-5 morning line favorite Kantharos heads the field of six horses that have been entered in the 6 ½ -furlong sprint. Trainer Richard Violette Jr. sends the 8-5 coupled entry of Sovereign Default and Bail Out The Cat to the starting gate. Trainer Rick Dutrow sends Wetzel, the 6-1 morning line third-choice, from the two post.
Kantharos comes into the race undefeated in two starts with a combined win margin of 21 ¼ lengths. In his last race, Kantharos earned a 100 Brisnet Speed Figure in the Bashford Manor Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs and easily won by 9 ½ lengths.
If Kantharos runs anywhere near his previous efforts, he is most likely the winner and Asmussen will claim his third victory in the Special. Asmussen won the Special in 2007 with Kodiak Kowboy and 2003 with Cuvee.
Kantharos is a descendant of the Northern Dancer sire line and since 1990 four descendants from that sire line have won the Special: D’ Funnybone (2009), Kodiak Kowboy (2007), Henny Hughes (2005) and Dehere (1993).
Of the Violette coupled entry, I like Sovereign Default the most. Sovereign Default is stepping up in class and comes into the race with a 2-length win in his maiden debut on July 15 at Belmont Park. Sovereign Default earned a 99 speed figure for that effort and defeated runnerup Stay Thirsty who easily broke his maiden this past Saturday, winning by 5 ½ lengths, in a 6-furlong sprint at Saratoga.
Sovereign Default is a descendant of the Mr. Prospector Sire line and since 1990 seven descendants of that sire line that have won the Saratoga Special: Run Away And Hide (2008), Chace City (2006), Cuvee (2003), City Zip (2000), Bevo (1999), Prime Directive (1998) and Tactical Advantage (1992).
Wetzel is a halfway decent price but he will have to step up his game to win. Wetzel’s sire, Successful Appeal, is also the sire of J P’s Gusto – winner of the Hollywood Juvenile Championship (G3) and Best Pal Stakes (G2).
Dutrow, won the Special last year with D’ Funnybone, so he knows how to prepare his trainees for the Special.
Wetzel is a descendant of the Man O' War sire line and the last horse from that sire line to win the Special was Bright Launch (1995).