Six racing days into the 2018 meet at Saratoga Race Course and things are off to a slow start for David Cannizzo. Not for lack of want, mind you, simply opportunity with turf races rained off clobbering his horses’ schedules right when they’re ready to run.
“I’ve got a lot of grass horses, and with this weather . . . it’s killing me,” Cannizzo said from his office after training wrapped up in the rain Thursday morning.
Cannizzo made seven starts through Thursday’s card and he’s ready for more, as long as the weather cooperates. The string features a mix of established New York-bred stakes competitors such as Black Tide – the barn standout – starter, claiming and allowance runners and 2-year-olds. Coconut, the barn mascot and his daughter’s Shetland pony, didn’t make the trip north, but a full barn did and is bedded down in Mike Hushion’s old barn inside Clare Court for the second straight year.
Thursday morning Cannizzo flipped open his training chart and went through several members of the stable with The Special’s Tom Law. (Editor’s note: Originally published in the July 27 issue of The Saratoga Special)
China Rider: Ivery Sisters Racing’s and DJC Racing Stables’ Ontario-bred 4-year-old Majestic Warrior filly finished fifth in the third race Thursday, an off-the-turf allowance-optional going 5 1/2 furlongs. She won a 6-furlong turf allowance three starts back June 1 at Belmont. “She’s better sprinting on the grass, we took a shot. We’ll get her back on the grass later in the meet. We bought her as a yearling for 30 (thousand) and she’s made 200. Solid filly.”
Black Tide: Asked for the horse in the barn with the biggest personality, Cannizzo didn’t hesitate picking the 6-year-old Hold Me Back gelding. A finalist for champion New York-bred turf male honors, he won five of 10 last season, including the Mohawk for Ivery Sisters Racing. “The most personality and he’s got the biggest following. He’s a nervous horse, loves attention. If someone stays by his side he’s very relaxed. Tough to train, he’s all speed. You’ve seen him run, open up 10, 15 lengths, let him do his thing. He’ll run in a three-other-than on Aug. 3 and then the West Point. He’s one of the best in the barn.”
Royal Inheritance: A $32,000 buy at the 2016 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic May 2-year-olds sale, daughter of Regal Ransom is 5-for-13 with $251,817 in earnings. She won a Belmont optional claimer July 13. “Nice filly, been through a lot. She’s won five races for us. Just won her last start at Belmont in 1:07 and change, second start on the turf. She’ll run here, back in the two-other-than New York-bred.”
Fox Rules: Multiple stakes winner was claimed for $40,000 in January 2017. Nine-year-old Roman Ruler gelding has won two of 12 since, with two stakes placings. Sixth in a state-bred optional going 1 1/16 miles on the grass Wednesday. He goes way back, as a $58,000 weanling purchase at Fasig-Tipton Kentucky’s November mixed sale in 2009. “He didn’t handle the soft turf. Finger Lakes Horse of the Year like four years in a row. I claimed him from Michelle Nevin. He’s run some big races in a few stakes for us. He’ll run back, hopefully get a fast turf down the line. He needs it hard like a road.”
Virtual Machine: Entered in today’s eighth, a 9-furlong allowance-optional on the main track. Owned by Serjeant Equine, 5-year-old son of Drosselmeyer has two seconds in three starts this year. “He was sent to us about a year and a half ago. Nice horse, won two in a row then was second in the Westchester. He had a small injury and now he’s mounting his comeback. He was second in a two-other-than at Monmouth (June 23). He’s doing well, ran big off the layoff.”
Blessed Halo: Z R J Stables’ 4-year-old Kantharos gelding returned from lengthy layoff to win allowance at Belmont May 13. “We bought him as a 2-year-old privately, ran like five or six very big races for us, broke his maiden in the slop, got injured, came back off a year layoff and ran a 94 Beyer and won for fun at Belmont. He’ll run in the next book here.”
Avery Maeve: DJC Racing Stables’ and Long View Stables’ 5-year-old Awesome Of Course mare has raced in starter allowance events in 10 of last 11 starts. She’s 2-for-15 with three seconds and four thirds. “She’s been knocking on the door, second or third every time I run her. She’ll run in a starter here in the next book.”
Heldatgunpoint: Blackwood Stables’ 4-year-old Courageous Cat gelding, a Fasig-Tipton Kentucky graduate in October 2015, finished eighth in starter allowance July 22. “He’ll run in the next book. He’s a New York-bred and has competed in the open starter races, he should be very good in the a-other-than New York-bred in the next book. He’s a grass horse.”
Taptaptap: Two Tone Farms’ homebred 2-year-old son of Yes It’s True finished fifth in debut July 12 in 5 1/2-furlong state-bred maiden at Belmont. “He’s for one of my bigger clients. Very nice 2-year-old, very talented, probably the best baby I have. He wants to go long. We gave him one sprint, he chased, pressed the pace, took a shot at Jason Servis’ horse (Lutsky), he won going away. He got a lot out of it and should be very tough when he runs back.”
Plebe: Another homebred for Two Tone Farms, 2-year-old Midshipman colt finished third in 6-furlong turf maiden in his debut at Belmont June 30. “He was in the other day here and it was rained off the turf. He’s strictly grass and will be in the next New York-bred turf maiden race.”
Chublicious: Winner of the $78,000 Mr. Prospector at Monmouth two starts back, Brittlyn Stable’s 7-year-old New Jersey-bred joined the barn this spring. Winner of the Grade 3 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash last year, he’s 11-for-28 with earnings of $620,879. “He ran back in a stake at Delaware that was part of the MATCH Series (Hockessin, July 14) and didn’t really handle the track. He could be seen here later in the meet.”
Belleville Spring: Homebred for Philip Birsh joined the stable this spring after being with George Weaver. He’s 1-3-1 in eight starts and finished eighth in a division of the New York Stallion Stakes at Belmont June 24. “We got him about a month ago. He’s a very fast horse, second in a New York-bred stakes last year. Very speedy, should be very dangerous in the New York-bred a-other-than going 5 1/2 on the grass next week.”
Becker’s Galaxy: Our Blue Streaks Stable’s 8-year-old gelding caught the worst of it when carried wide into the first turn of 9-furlong state-bred optional claimer Monday. New York-bred by Greeley’s Galaxy, who owns 11 wins in 57 starts, wound up fifth. “Terrible trip last time, should be all right.”
Kavansberg: Unraced 3-year-old New York-bred son of Teuflesberg shows nine breezes since May 6, including half-mile on Saratoga main track July 21. “He’s pretty talented, just late maturing. He’s a handful. When he puts it all together he’ll be OK.”
Dannie’s Deceiver: Nearly made the meet for the barn in 2016 when he finished fast-closing fourth in the Grade 1 Forego at 41-1 to complete a $6,465 superfecta behind favorite A. P. Indian. Off since late 2016, he’s won three of 15 starts for Z R J Stables. “He got hurt and missed a year-and-a-half. He’s starting to make a comeback. He’s worked like eight times. It’s been a long time. He was fourth, flying in the Forego and then I ran him back in two other stakes and a three-other-than at Aqueduct and he got hurt. Maybe the end of the meet, last week or so.”