Trainer Rick Violette plays with Woodward entrant Samraat Monday morning at Saratoga
Grade 2 Suburban Handicap runner-up Samraat remains on track for the Grade 1, $ 600,000 Woodward Saturday, having emerged from his five-furlong breeze this weekend in good order, trainer Rick Violette said Monday morning.
For Samraat, whose last victory came by a hard-fought neck in the 2014 Gotham, the road back to the winner’s circle has been an extensive one at best.
Bred in New York by My Meadowview Farm, the son of Noble Causeway started his career with a five-race win streak, including Grade 3 victories in the Withers and Gotham as a 3-year-old in 2014, before being handed his first defeat by Wicked Strong in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial.
Samraat had earned his shot on the Triple Crown, however, finishing a troubled fifth in the Kentucky Derby and sixth in the Belmont that spring. Samraat was on target to make a comeback in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy that summer when he suffered a stress fracture in a shin that ultimately kept him away from the races for 13 months.
After a lengthy rehabilitation, he returned for one start as a 4-year-old, finishing a distant fifth in an optional claiming race in July 2015 at Belmont Park and aggravating his old injury.
“He didn’t come out of it OK,” Violette said of the race. “He basically redid it. Obviously, it didn’t work with therapy so we had to give him more time.”
Samraat underwent an operation to ensure a more corrective resolution and received another lengthy break, this time taking nine months between starts.
“It works, but you also have patient owners because it takes a long time to get them back,” said Violette. “There’s a long period of jogging and just toughening up that bone.”
Samraat got back to business this spring, making his 5-year-old debut at Aqueduct in April, where finished third in an optional claiming race behind fellow stakes contenders Matterhorn and Stormin Monarcho. The New York-bred millionaire reemerged among the stakes ranks, posting a runner-up finish to Anchor Down in the Grade 3 Westchester at Belmont in May and a fourth-place finish in the Grade 2 Brooklyn on Belmont Stakes Day. In the Suburban, Samraat led throughout but lost the bob to a hard-charging Effinex.
“He ran really well in the Westchester, it’s a flat mile so it was kind of short for him,” said Violette. “We had a really tough trip in the Brooklyn. We got stuffed down inside with a slow pace. It was a deceptively good race, if he had gotten clear, he would’ve been first or second. Then he ran his eyeballs out in the Suburban and got beat a lip by a very nice horse.”
Samraat has breezed weekly at Violette’s summer Saratoga base, including a mile breeze in 1:41.44 on August 20. He turned in his final major move ahead of the Woodward on Saturday to cover five furlongs in 1:01.76.
“He relishes it, he loves working,” said Violette. “It’ll be eight weeks going from the Suburban to the Woodward so he needed to do something [longer], but he’s fit. He’s came out of his breezes well, so we’re all systems go.”
Samraat will likely be facing G1 Met Mile and Whitney victor Frosted in the Woodward, as well as Mubtaahij, Bradester, Catholic Cowboy, Tale of Verve and Breaking Lucky.
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