Fasig-Tipton Stable Tour with Graham Motion

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Around The Special office, the term “Stable Tour Luck” gets thrown around in response to race results. It used to be how we sold the idea of actually doing a stable tour to reluctant trainers. “Stable tours are lucky,” we’d say. “Everybody wins when they do Stable Tours.” (Originally published in Aug. 3 issue of The Saratoga Special)

While it’s not foolproof, the adage does carry some clout. Graham Motion put his on fast forward, as he won two races Thursday – the day The Special’s Joe Clancy stopped by for the interview. And it was a straight double. Empressof The Nile won the eighth race, an optional claimer, and King Zachary backed up that with a track record in the marathon Birdstone Stakes a race later. The barn tries to keep the luck going with two Saratoga runners today as Say The Word runs in the Fasig-Tipton Lure Stakes and Desert Isle goes in the Fasig-Tipton De La Rose.

Based at Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland, Motion switched locales in Saratoga – decreasing his stall number to 10 and moving from the main track to the Oklahoma side with neighbors Shug McGaughey, Christophe Clement and Bill Mott.

“We decided to just go back to the way we used to do things, where we’re rotating horses in and out more,” said Motion. “It’s a little quieter here, which I really like and a little easier on our horses because we’re shipping in and out all the time and we don’t have to deal with the seeing the racetrack the way we did over there. Horses who are here for the meet get used to it, but it can take them awhile and most of our horses are never here very long. It’s great over here. I really like it.”

Motion pulled up his set list(s) for Fair Hill and Saratoga, and went through some potential Saratoga starters.

Sharing: Daughter of Speightstown sold to Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners for $350,000 at last year’s Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale and was beaten a neck and a nose when third at 10-1 in her debut here July 21. Motion won the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf with her dam Shared Account. “Shared Account was a sweetheart and this filly’s very much like her. She actually handles the dirt pretty well, I just thought it would be easier to start on the grass, easier for her. She was a little bit unlucky, just found a little bit of traffic at the top of the stretch, and ran really well. We’ll run her back here, probably two turns on the turf.”

Smile Bryan: Staghawk Stable’s 3-year-old Goldencents colt finished second in a starter allowance here July 18, beaten a neck. After four losses in maiden special weight company, he won for a $50,000 tag at Laurel in February, and has run well – without winning – in four consecutive starter races. “He’s very consistent. He’s a useful horse who will run back here.”

King Zachary: Seventh here on the turf July 24, Thomas Conway’s 4-year-old Curlin colt rebounded with a stakes win eight days later in the Birdstone. Motion wasn’t counting on that effort, but will take it. “The first race here was a little bit of a head-scratcher. We’re wheeling back going a mile-and-three-quarters, which seems to be what he wants to do. He’s a lovely horse. He just seems very one-paced to me, and that works in races like this. At the end of the day we’re all guessing. It’s a little crazy. You either have to run a mile-and-a-quarter in a Grade 1 because there aren’t many other mile-and-a-quarter dirt races really, or you have to try a race like this which is a little off the charts.”

Trinity: Owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Ronald Frankel, the French-bred Mizzen Mast gelding won a maiden race at Monmouth Park in June, but flopped here when last of six in allowance company July 18. “He ran very disappointingly up here. The Monmouth race was good, but this one was a head-scratcher.”

Prosperity: Gainesway’s Tapit 3-year-old filly hails from royalty. Her dam Flourish is a half-sister to Juddmonte’s $2 million earner Sightseek and millionaire Tates Creek. Bred by Juddmonte Farm, the chestnut – with a smattering of white spots here and there – was beaten 3 lengths when fifth in her debut sprinting on the turf here July 13. “I thought she ran real well the first week of the meet. She does everything well. She’ll probably run back sprinting on the grass again.”

Irish Mias: Bred in New Jersey by (and owned by) Isabelle de Tomaso, the 2-year-old colt is out of a half-sister to stakes winners Irish Strait and Irish War Cry and was second in his debut here July 24. “The race came off the grass, but he handles the dirt well so I wasn’t concerned. He was a little unlucky and if he broke better he might have won. He looks like he could be really nice.”

Close Shave: Third behind Irish Mias in that off-the-turfer July 24, Alex Campbell’s 2-year-old colt by Unbridled’s Song (and out of $303,260 earner Awesome Ashley) will look for a second start on the turf here. “He ran well enough to try Saratoga again.”

Empressof The Nile: Five-year-old mare won a competitive optional claimer here Thursday, prevailing as the favorite where the first four margins were neck, neck, head and nose. Owned by Madaket Stables, Manganaro Bloodstock and Rob Masiello (and trained by Motion to complete the M superfecta), daughter of Pioneerof The Nile could be headed to bigger things. “She’s a nice filly and is pretty competitive. If she runs well enough (she did), she could come back in a stakes later in the meet.”

English Bee: Calumet Farm’s 3-year-old homebred finished fourth in Friday’s National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes. “He’s a cool horse. We ran him in the Belmont Derby, going 1 1/4 miles, and he didn’t really want to go that far. We’ll shorten him back up, which he should like more. I love the way he runs. He’s turned into this really solid 3-year-old. He’s tough. He tries hard.”

Pipes: Racing in the Dogwood Stable green and yellow, New York-bred 3-year-old Exchange Rate colt has run twice at the meet – an eighth on Opening Day in his first start for Motion and a second 10 days later. In the latter, he led until the final stride and lost by a head. “We ran him back quickly and he ran well, a much better race. I was very pleased with him. He won’t come back until the end of the meet because he ran back so quickly. Lovely horse.”

Tibr: Rabbah Bloodstock’s 5-year-old Distorted Humor gelding runs in an turf sprint allowance Sunday in his fourth American start after winning twice in England. He won at Pimlico for Motion in May, and was third in allowance company at Belmont in June. “I keep entering him. They didn’t use the race the other day and it’s back for Sunday.”

Mrs. Sippy: Don’t hold the spelling against her, but say it fast. Kentucky-bred daughter of Blame won twice in Europe, and placed in a Group 3, and could make her American debut in the Glens Falls at the end of the meet. “I’ve only breezed her once at Fair Hill, but she’s a pretty nice filly.”

He’s No Lemon: Alex Campbell’s homebred 3-year-old won here on the turf July 18, and earned a promotion. “He’ll come back at Belmont in the ($1 million Jockey Club Derby) going a mile-and-a-half.”

Varenka: Augustin Stable’s homebred daughter of Ghostzapper won here July 14 and could return to stakes company. She’s won two of three this year, with a third to Hard Legacy in the Grade 3 Regret at Churchill Downs in June sandwiched between the wins. “She’s been very useful. I thought she ran a big race to win here last time. That’s not an easy race to win here. She had a bad draw (post 10) and won. I think she’s going to be competitive in (the Lake Placid Aug. 17).”

Touriga: Brazilian-bred filly won a Group 1 and a Group 2 in Gavea Racecourse, then finished third in her American debut in Monmouth Park’s Grade 3 Matchmaker Stakes. “That was a three-horse race on Haskell Day, but she ran well and it was a tough race. She could show up late in the meet, possibly in the Glens Falls.”

Secret Message: After opening the season with back-to-back stakes wins (Laurel Park’s Dahlia and Woodbine’s Grade 3 Nassau), 4-year-old Hat Trick filly finished fourth in the Diana here July 13. Back at Fair Hill, she’s training toward the Ballston Spa here on Travers Day.

Say The Word and Desert Isle: Sam-Son Farm runners are entered in stakes today. See page 26 for more.