My Meadowview Farms’ multiple graded stakes winner Samraat is set to kick off his 2017 campaign in the $ 100,000 Saginaw at 1 1/16 Miles for New York-breds 4-year-olds and up on Sunday at Belmont Park.
A 6-year-old son of Noble Causeway, Samraat has three wins from four career starts at the distance. Looking to make his first start against state-breds since capturing the Damon Runyon in 2013, last year Samraat ran in a bevy of stakes races picking up a pair of second-place finishes in the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap and Grade 3 Winchester at Belmont. Looking to use this race as a starting point toward a summer campaign at Saratoga, trainer Rick Violette is encouraged with how Samraat is doing heading into the race.
“He’s doing great,” said Violette. “He’s had a couple of good breezes the last couple of weeks and he’s ready to run. He’s supposed to need a race, but he’s doing well and its time to see where we are. We needed to run him either this weekend or next so we can see where we’ll next point to this summer at Saratoga.”
With Luis Saez aboard, the pair will leave from post 5.
Also entering for Violette is the talented Diversity for owners Ralph and Lauren Evans. A 4-year-old by Bellamy Road, he has amassed two wins and two second-place finishes from four starts at Big Sandy. Most recently, he stalked from just off the pace to finish second by a nose in the Commentator on May 29. With his penultimate workout for the Saginaw over the turf, Violette wouldn’t rule out eventually making a start with him over the surface, but was looking forward to running him on Sunday.
“We experimented with him on the grass on which he breezed well,” said Violette. “We certainly might take a shot with him on the grass when we reach Saratoga, but he’s a really nice horse and he’s doing great. We took a hold of him last race when it looked like there was stone cold speed in front of him, but we’ll handicap and see where we think he’ll be best. He’s certainly both comfortable on the lead and stalking off. The only downside is I hate running my best two horses against each other.”
With Irad Ortiz in the irons, Diversify will depart from post 3.
Trainer Linda Rice will enter a pair of formidable contenders in Papa Shot for owner Barry K. Schwartz and Gypsum Johnny for owner Antonino Miuccio. A son of Distorted Humour, Papa Shot picked up an impressive 104 Beyer Speed Figure last out when he captured an optional-claiming race on May 6 for state-breds to win by 13 ½-lenghts.
Gypsum Johnny, A 5-year-old son of City Zip unraced at the distance enters off a fourth-place finish in the Commentator.
Breaking from the rail, Papa Shot will be ridden by Hall of Famer John Velazquez. Gypsum Johnny will leave from post 6 with Manny Franco up.
Rounding out the field is Inside Straight for trainer Robertino Diodoro and owner Randy Howg, Fox Rules for trainer David Cannizzo and Ivery Sisters Racing and Hit It Once More for August Dawn Farm and trainer Gary Sciacca.
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