2017 Fasig-Tipton Stable Tour with Graham Motion

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Friday morning on the backside, trainer Graham Motion was organizing workers (horses for the turf at Oklahoma and workers (a somewhat reluctant 14-year-old hotwalker) and faced a question about a Stable Tour from The Special’s Joe Clancy.

“You got five minutes?” Motion asked, opening his MacBook and starting at the top of the alphabet.

Ten, maybe 15, minutes later Motion had gone through much of his Saratoga – or Saratoga-bound – string in alphabetical order. The Maryland-based trainer had 30 starts through Thursday – with three wins, seven seconds, six thirds and $523,899 in earnings. The dollars were fifth on the leaderboard, and reflected the depth of the competition in the 12866 this time of year.

“I already feel like we’ve had  a good meet,” Motion said. “We’ve placed in a lot of stakes and horses have run well where we put them. You just want to come up here and be comepetitive. You can’t put a number on it.”

Affileo: English-bred 5-year-old mare finished third here at 23-1 July 29, her first start since November 2015 for Team Valor International. Won first two starts in England, but is winless in four U.S. tries. “That was a good third, she’ll run back at the meet – hopefully going a little bit longer. She needs to go further. She’d been with Danielle Hodsdon in Camden (S.C.) and came up with another issue, that’s why she missed so much time. Those races are not easy up here and she ran very well.”

Ascend: Entered 5-year-old season without a stakes start and blossomed into a Grade 1 winner for Stone Farm and partners with Manhattan upset in June. Suffered first defeat of 2017 (and first loss with Lasix) when fourth in the Bowling Green here July 29. Gets back to work in today’s Arlington Million in a move Motion knows is a bit unorthodox. “Even before the Bowling Green I was considering running him back. He’s a really laid back, kind, easy-going horse. He can handle it. It’s so easy to get there from here. The plane goes out of Albany so it’s not like he had to go back to Fair Hill, get on a van, go 10 hours to Chicago. We just galloped him. He’s been at Arlington since Tuesday. I wasn’t comfortable stretching him out to a mile-and-a-half in the Sword Dancer so this works. Jose (Ortiz) and I both thought he laid a little bit too close to the pace in the Bowling Green. Everybody was so surprised when he won the Manhattan, but I obviously felt he belonged in the race. I wasn’t just taking a shot. We kind of planned that for a long time. I feel like we really placed him cautiously last year with the idea that he’s a nice horse and hopefully it paid off. It already has.”

Berned: Three-year-old filly owned by West Point Thoroughbreds and partners finished fourth in the Coaching Club American Oaks here July 23 and will target the Lake Placid on turf or the Alabama on dirt here Aug. 19 depending on what Coaching Club winner Abel Tasman does. “She’s a nice filly. The Coaching Club was an opportunity to try and get a piece of a Grade 1, and we might do that again depending on what happens. I could try her on the grass or we could come back and run in the Alabama. She does well at Fair Hill so I sent her back there.”

Cyrielle: Ninth in Friday’s fifth race, her career debut, Animal Kingdom juvenile filly gives Motion an early look at the progeny of his 2011 Kentucky Derby winner. “The Animal Kingdom fillies are a bit more refined than the colts, and she fits into that category. She’s definitely a little lighter, and she’s athletic. Down the road she’s going to be a two-turn horse. I think it’s been a surprise how well they’ve handled sprinting, because they’re all more geared to two-turn races.”

Five Each Way: Third in a New York-bred allowance here Friday, 3-year-old half-sister to Grade 1 winner Miss Temple City (by Bullet Train) won at Tampa on New Year’s Day and looks to be on the improve for The Club Racing and Needle in a Haystack partnership. “She ran very well yesterday. She’s not her sister, I think she could walk under Miss Temple City, but she’s a hard-trying, useful filly.”

Flower Valley: Four-year-old Discreet Cat filly has run four decent races this year, without winning, and was beaten a neck when second here in a turf allowance Aug. 2. “She’s run well a few times and is another example of how tough it is to win races here. She’ll run back later in the meet.”

Holiday Star: Augustin Stable homebred finished second in the 2014 John’s Call here and won Keeneland’s Grade 3 Sycamore in 2014 and 2015 before going to the sidelines for owner/breeder Augustin Stable. Son of Harlan’s Holiday is looking for a Saratoga spot in which to get back to work. “He’s a lovely old horse. It’s been almost two years since he’s run, but he could run in an allowance here. Or the John’s Call.”

Street Fashion: Another Augustin homebred turf horse, 5-year-old is on a similar plan to Holiday Star (John’s Call or allowance). Street Sense gelding won here last summer in a photo over future Grade 1 winner Ectot and won at Belmont Park in June before finishing second in the Cape Henlopen at Delaware July 8. “He’s turned out to be a really useful horse – a very hard-knocking, neat horse.”

Messi: German-bred turf veteran finished third – beaten two heads – here July 21 and might come back in the Sword Dancer after being sent home to Fair Hill. Seven-year-old owns wins at the Grade 2 and 3 levels and has earned $458,561. “I thought he was unlucky not to win here (when making up ground late). He tries hard and makes you appreciate him.”

Miss Ella: Jack Swain’s homebred 5-year-old mare won her second consecutive Caress Stakes when scoring by a length over Fair Point here July 24. She’ll seek her third Saratoga win in the Smart N Fancy – which she lost by a head last year – Aug. 27. “She loves Saratoga and will come back from Fair Hill for that. Dirt or turf, she tries really hard and you love that.”

Miss Katie Mae: Second in her last two (including one here July 23) for Bill Crager and Paul Hondros, 4-year-old Irish import won a stakes last year in Canada and could get another chance before the meet ends. “She’s pretty useful. That was a good work on the turf here. I don’t want them going too fast.”

Painter’s Rags: Chadds Ford Stable homebred 3-year-old won his debut late last year at Laurel, and was eighth here in his first start in more than five months. “He’s a Union Rags colt I like a lot. He ran here on the grass and could show up back in an allowance race. I think we’ll go back to the dirt with him. He’s Irish War Cry’s workmate at home and I think there are better things ahead for him.”

Party Boat: Hope Jones’ 3-year-old filly finished second in the Lake George here July 21 (at 5-1) and will return for the Lake Placid Aug. 19. “She worked at Fair Hill today (5 furlongs on the Tapeta in 1:02.20). She’s run well in her last three races – a win and two seconds in stakes.”

Pricedtoperfection: Miss Temple City’s 4-year-old full-sister – a $650,000 Fasig-Tipton November purchase last year – finished fourth in her first start of 2017 here July 22 and is headed to Monmouth Park’s Violet Aug. 19 for Madaket Stable and Head of Plains Partners. “She ran pretty well off a long layoff. I was happy with that, and she’ll show up at Monmouth.”

Quidura: English-bred 4-year-old filly has been 1-2-3 in all five American starts – including a Grade 3 win and two Grade 1 placings. Hard-luck second, beaten a head, after leading throughout in the Grade 1 Diana here July 22. “Huge race. She was not intended to go to the lead, but ran a huge race. I’ve never won that race (despite seconds by Shared Account and Aruna and a photo-finish fourth by Miss Temple City). It’s starting to become a nemesis for us. She won’t come back up here. She’ll probably go to the Canadian Stakes at Woodbine and hopefully the Breeders’ Cup.”

Ring Weekend: Grade 1 winner endured a tough trip when fifth in the Lure Aug. 5 and could seek a repeat in the Bernard Baruch here Sept. 4. A regular on the Clare Court training track, 6-year-old is on the verge of $1.5 million in earnings for St. Elias Stable and West Point.

Sound The Horns: Improved to 3-for-5 in career with $50,000 claiming win by a head here for West Point Aug. 2. “He’s a lovely horse, and ran a game race that day. Hopefully we get an allowance race to run him in here.”

Untamed Domain: Two-year-old Animal Kingdom colt won here going 1 1/16 miles on the turf here July 22 and aims for the With Anticipation Stakes Aug. 30. Breezed 5 furlongs on the Oklahoma turf  in 1:04.49 here Friday. “It’s kind of a no-brainer to run back in that stake. Hopefully, hopefully it’s a steppingstone for the Breeders’ Cup. I was happy with that (work).”

Midnight Tea Time: Alex Campbell homebred 2-year-old, whose dam It’s Tea Time won the Lake Placid here in 2010, finished third in his debut going 5 1/2 furlongs here July 29. “He finished third sprinting, but in an ideal world I’d like to run him back longer. That’s a colt I’m excited about. I don’t know if I’m going to bring some others up here that haven’t run. It’s too competitive with the 2-year-olds.”

Maya Malibu: My Meadowview homebred 2-year-old filly, by Malibu Moon out of graded stakes winner Island Sand, blitzed maidens at Delaware Park Aug. 5. “She was impressive and could come back in the 7-furlong race (the Grade 1 Spinaway) at the end of the meet. It’s a month away, and she’s training really nicely. I could have brought her up here and run in a maiden, but I thought it was smart to be conservative.”