2017 Fasig-Tipton Stable Tour with Joe Sharp

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Joe Sharp pulled off a layer of waterproofs after galloping a couple sets on a damp Tuesday morning and hopped into his souped-off golf cart to watch a set train over the Oklahoma training track. (Originally published in the July 27 issue of The Saratoga Special)

With 20 horses on the Oklahoma side and 10 at the harness track, Sharp has brought his best roster to Saratoga since going out on his own three years ago. A former assistant to Mike Stidham and Mike Maker, Sharp closes in on 300 career wins, a feat he would like to accomplish before the meet ends.

Anchored by owner Brad Grady, Sharp has focused on changing from a predominantly claiming outfit to one with a solid foundation of 2-year-olds and 3-year-olds.

“We’ve claimed about a fifth of the horses we did the year before, we like claiming a lot, we used the claiming to build our business, hoping it would shift to getting some nice 2-year-olds,” Sharp said. “It takes time, we’ve enjoyed this shift, it’s fun being in the big races, it’s rewarding to go from the ground up with a horse.”

Sharp and his team have gone from the ground up with Girvin who could provide a big win on Sunday as he travels for the Grade 1 Haskell at Monmouth Park.

The Special’s Sean Clancy rode shotgun with Sharp Tuesday morning and talked about the string.

Merilore: Seven-year-old has won eight races from Del Mar to Churchill Downs to Los Alamitos to Arlington. “We claimed her at Churchill right before we left, there’s a race long on the grass for 25 coming up on the 31st. We claimed her specifically for here because she goes either dirt or turf, with the weather up here, we like to find a horse who’s versatile.”

Indebted: The five-time winner has bounced from Christophe Clement to Ray Handal to Sharp. “We claimed him toward the end of the Belmont meet, he’ll run a mile-and-three-sixteenths on the turf, he’ll be dropping to try to win a race.”

Five Hearts: The daughter of Langfuhr snapped a 10-race losing streak in her most recent start. “She just won a non-winners-of-three for 50 at Belmont. We had a frustrating winter, a bunch of seconds and thirds, trouble trips, she finally got lucky and won last time. She should be pretty live.”

Into Summer: A promising daughter of Into Mischief, she’s improved in each of her three starts. “She just won a maiden special weight at Belmont, we’re looking forward to a first-level allowance here and then maybe some stakes company at Kentucky Downs. I like her a lot.”

Signalpath: The Illinois-bred filly graduated from the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Yearling Sale. “She broke her maiden at Remington and we got her after that. She had a second and a third once we put her on the grass this winter. She had a slight layoff and ran a good fifth at Belmont, she’ll be competitive here in a first level allowance for 3-year-old fillies.”

Phat Man: A Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-year-old sale graduate, son of Munnings has won three races including the Long Branch Stakes in his most recent start. “He’s aiming at the West Virginia Derby. He’s a cool horse. He won for 30 at Fair Grounds, turned around and won the starter a-other-than at Belmont and won the Long Branch in his next start. He really surprised us, he’s getting good as he’s getting older, just one of the barn favorites.”

Blarp: Veteran turfer has racked up five wins and five seconds in his 37-race career. “He was our first start of the meet, a little disappointing effort so we’ll look for a significant class relief.”

Cool Arrow: A $120,000 purchase at the Fasig-Tipton New York-bred Sale here in 2015, the 3-year-old colt has won two stakes so far. “He won the Springboard Mile at Remington last fall and the Bobby Hilton Stakes at Charles Town this spring. Here training, maybe run towards the end of the meet, he doesn’t have any conditions.”

Seeking Paradise: The 5-year-old daughter of Blame upset a second-level allowance at Belmont Park in May. Entered in today’s eighth race. “She had colic surgery this winter, we gave her the time off and she won a two other than in her first start at Belmont, we tried some stakes company at Presque Isle and she didn’t like the synthetic. Really cool filly with a lot of heart.”

Cape Angel: Claimed from a $30,000 maiden claimer at Churchill Downs in June, he’s 0-for-5 in his career.  “We’ll get him on our program for five to six weeks and run him at the end of the meet long on the grass, we’ve definitely seen improvement since he’s been here.”

Morrison: Wow, what a debut. Two-year-old son of The Factor won by 17 lengths in an off-the-turf maiden at Belmont. “He came back and sprung a right front shoe when he faced stakes company second time out, we’re going to stretch him out two turns on the grass, which is what we thought all along. He is New York-bred but we’ll struggle to get a New York-bred allowance on the grass. He beat open, hopefully, he can again.”

Infinity Squared: Purchased out of the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-year-old sale in May, son of Munnings has posted two local breezes. “He’s actually been Girvin’s workmate, hopefully we’ll get him started in the next few weeks.”

Line Judge: Three-time winner exits the Iowa Derby. “He won the Jean Lafitte and ran in the Delta Jackpot. We breezed him on the grass the other day, he’s another good 3-year-old. We brought him up here to try the grass.”

Mom’s On Strike: Four-year-old filly finished second in the Pebbles at Belmont Park last fall. “Very talented daughter of First Dude. She’s training great, she’ll run the 29th in a first level allowance. She’s a monster, I love that filly.”

Bookman: New York-bred son of City Zip hasn’t finished worse than fourth in five tries. “We got him from Mark Hubley for KatieRich Farm, he’s the first horse they’ve sent to us, he’s a bit of a project, he goes in screen blinkers, he was third at Churchill last time out, broke his maiden at Keeneland. We’re enthusiastic about him.”

King Of All Media: Sharp points to a bay horse bucking off the Oklahoma. “Another one we claimed off Neil Howard, that’s him, ‘Look at me.’ ”

Strong Current: Son of Orb finished fifth in his career debut. “He’s a half brother to Sandbar, who was our first graded stake horse. We’re looking to run him long on the grass.”

Frozen Hannah: Graduate of the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Yearling Sale, she’s finished third in two stakes. “She’s been around our barn for quite a while, she’s little but she’s tough.”

Girvin: The big horse. “Robby Albarado came in and worked him last week, Robby goes everywhere we go, he’s good in big races, Brian (Hernandez) had McCraken again, we didn’t ask Mike (Smith) to come back, not for anything other than just getting someone we could rely on a consistent basis. I had worked him the week before myself, he’s never trained better, he’s been on his hind legs cooling out, he’s better now than I’ve ever had him. He’s overcome a lot in the last four or five months. If there ever was a time to try Grade 1 company, it’s now. He’s been in full shoes, both fronts, consistently in a day-in, day-out basis, he’s hitting evenly, starting to get more confidence. He did everything else because he’s tough and he’s an athlete, now he feels good, he’s eating well, everything, he just feels good going to work every day is the bottom line. He’s come back twice the horse physically, he’s turned into a man now, his chest has gotten bigger, his neck has gotten bigger and he’s very, very confident.”

Bankers Holiday: Fasig-Tipton New York-bred sale graduate picked up a win at Saratoga last summer. “He last started in a stake at Remington last fall, his first start off the layoff will be here, he’s doing well, about two or three weeks away.”

American Sailor: Claimed by Sharp in February, 2016, son of City Zip has garnered four wins since. “We claimed him for $30,000 about two years ago, he won a stake since, just a really cool turf sprinter, he was second at Suffolk last time, he’ll run here at the end of the meet, really fast horse, shows up every time.”

Uncle Pancho: Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Yearling graduate will debut at the meet. “Son of Uncle Mo, he’s been working bullets in Kentucky, we’ll probably sprint him on the grass maiden special first time out.”