3 Graded Stakes Runners for WPT on Saturday
In 2008 Terry Finley and Dallas Stewart lead “the little horse that could,” Macho Again into the winner’s circle after he held off Pyro in the Jim Dandy Stakes. Six years later, the duo looks for another win in Saratoga’s mid-Summer Derby prep with Commanding Curve, runner up in this year’s Kentucky Derby.
The original plan was for Commanding Curve to run in Friday’s restricted Curlin Stakes, but Stewart and Finley kept the $600,000 Jim Dandy (G2) in the back of their minds, and eventually opted to scratch out of the Curlin.
"I wanted to be in the (Curlin) if the Jim Dandy was a much larger field (seven are entered), or we didn't draw the way we want to or weather," Stewart explained. "But I feel like this all fits together.
Following his big effort in the Derby, Commanding Curve was a no show in the June 7 Belmont Stakes. He had no major excuse that day and we put a line through the race and set our sights toward Saratoga. “The Curve” shipped up to the Spa and put in strong five furlong work in 1.00:61 under jockey Shaun Bridgmohan over the main track on Saturday morning.
"(Bridgmohan) worked him, and he's very positive about him, and everything I can see in the stall -- eating well, all that stuff -- is good for me," Stewart added. "If we get beat, we get beat. We want to give him a chance to swing forward to the Travers."
Commanding Curve finishing second in the Kentucky Derby:
Preceding Commanding Curve on Saturday are two other WPT horses in graded stakes races, Toasting and Tiznowforamerica.
Saturday’s action kicks off with Toasting in the $150,000 Ontario Matron (G3) at Woodbine. A 4-year-old filly by Congrats, Toasting was scratched out of Monday’s Shine Again Stakes at Saratoga after the race attracted three grade one winners. Winner of the Dream Rush Stakes in October at Belmont, Toasting’s most recent victory came in a Florida-bred allowance race in February at Gulfstream.
“She’s an accomplished filly but we know her residual value goes up quite a bit with a graded stakes win on her resume,” said Terry Finley. “Running in an overnight stake with three grade one winners in it didn’t make a whole lot of sense. She ran pretty well on the synthetic in the OBS Championships Stakes last year and there weren’t a lot of other options for us. When this filly is right, she’s right, and she lets Tom (Albertrani) know. She’s giving every sign that she’s sitting on a big effort.”
Just over an hour before the Jim Dandy, Tizwnowforamerica goes postward in the $200,000 Amsterdam Stakes (G3) for 3-year-olds at Saratoga. Freshened after a series of disappointing efforts in graded stakes last year, the son of Tiznow finished fourth in his 3-year-old debut before capturing a first level allowance in impressive fashion against older horses on July 3 at Belmont. He broke his maiden as a 2-year-old in his second start at Saratoga.
“We’re coming back pretty quick from his last race, but he’s feeling great and should be right there third time off the layoff,” said trainer Tom Albertrani.
In partnership with Vincent Viola’s St. Elias Stable, WPT purchased Tiznowforamerica at the 2013 Keeneland April Sale. We named Tiznowforamerica for a memorable line from Tom Durkin’s call of the 2001 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) in which the colt’s sire, Tiznow, won the race (“Tiznow for America,” Durkin proclaimed). The Breeders’ Cup was the first major sporting event in New York after the 9/11 tragedy.