Millionaire ... Race's leading earner by more than $300,000 . . . Grade 1 winner . . . Big, beautiful, gray horse with a win over the course . . . 10-1 shot in an optional claimer.
Only in Saratoga could one horse be all of those things.
Somehow, Turallure checks the boxes though as one of 11 in today's tough-as-a-50-cent-steak sixth race. At a mile on the inner turf, the race could easily be a graded stakes featuring (in no apparent order) $633,000 earner Bim Bam, millionaire Pants On Fire, multiple stakes winner Seal Cove, Grade 3 winner Hoofit, $425,000 earner Beau Choix and multiple graded stakes winner Mr. Commons. Oh, and Brazilian import Vitoria Olimpica, the second choice at 7-2 making his debut for trainer Todd Pletcher.
All fit under the allowance condition of not having won $50,000 twice on the turf in 2013 or which have never won four races "other than."
Owned by 4-D Stable, Turallure has not won since taking the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile in September 2011. He followed that effort with a tough-luck second in the Breeders' Cup Mile. It's been even tougher going since. His 2012 season included just three starts - a second in the Maker's 46 Mile, a seventh in the Turf Classic and a fourth in the Firecracker. Trainer Charlie LoPresti shut him down shortly thereafter with a diagnosis of bone bruising from Dr. Larry Bramlage. After almost eight months without a race, the 6-year-old returned in April. He finished sixth to
Howe Great in a Keeneland allowance, sixth again at Churchill and then fifth ina small stakes at Arlington. While not quite a last chance, today's race offers an opportunity.
"He ran OK for a comeback race (at Keeneland) and I thought he would build off that race," said LoPresti. "We found a few things about his bloodwork, his liver enzymes were elevated, maybe there's something to that. I want to give him every chance. He looks like a million dollars, his last two works were really good, he can't be doing any better."
Turallure won the Bernard Baruch here in 2011, and can earn another try in the Grade 2 with a win or even an improved effort in a loss. LoPresti has considered adding blinkers, considered gelding the son of Wando. Two years ago, the Kentucky-bred was the stable star.
Now he's third (maybe) behind Horse of the Year Wise Dan and multiple graded stakes winner Successful Dan.
"His best race wouldn't beat Wise Dan, but I like him; he's a neat horse," LoPresti said. "He doesn't owe anybody anything. I still think about that Breeders' Cup . . . one more head bob and we had it."
Turallure's career arc shows the vagaries of training horses. He was on top of his game, ran a sub-par race or two, went for an examination and got diagnosed with a problem. There's no real cure for bruised bones, so LoPresti dialed up extended rest. Were he a better stallion prospect, Turallure wouldn't even be in Saratoga. Instead, he's back to give it one more go. LoPresti spends as much time thinking about his horse's mental health as his physical.
"I wanted to get him up here, get him back on track, pick his head up in a new place," the trainer said. "He's a 6-year-old stud, sometimes you wonder about horses like that. They get complacent with what they're doing."
LoPresti sent Turallure to the Oklahoma turf course for a spin Monday morning, and exercise rider Damien Rock let the gray motor through the stretch. LoPresti joked that he might "lock him in his stall" until today in hopes of having Turallure "breathing fire" by post time.
Against this group, it can't hurt.