Turf Try

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Ben Colebrook may or may not get what he’s been thinking about for a long time for China Grove in today’s $100,000 Bolton Landing Stakes at Saratoga Race Course.

Turf was in Colebrook’s thoughts from the early stages of the 2-year-old City Zip filly’s career, even after she broke her maiden in a 4 ½-furlong dash on the dirt on the second-to-last day of the Keeneland spring meeting. Colebrook thought big after that victory, as in Royal Ascot big, before getting a little more realistic and opting for a lucrative stakes on the dirt at Belmont Park.

“I kicked around the idea of going to Royal Ascot with her, but it was more realistic to keep her in America and run her in the Astoria,” Colebrook said as he prepared to catch a flight from Lexington’s Bluegrass Airport to Albany Tuesday afternoon. “We didn’t get very far along with that, the owners nixed that pretty quick. They were wanting to stay in America and it made more sense, so I guess you could say we didn’t really kick it around too much.”

China Grove ran in the $197,000 Astoria two days before the Belmont Stakes and ran well. She handled the commotion of the paddock – where several fillies acted up and one needed to be scratched after rearing up and flipping – and finished second behind Bode’s Dream despite stumbling badly a few jumps out of the gate.

Colebrook and owners K.K. and Mike Ball, who bred the filly at Donamire Farm in Lexington, took the next step with China Grove after the Astoria and stayed closer to home for the Debutante at Churchill Downs. Favored at 3-1 on the closing day Downs After Dark card, China Grove finished eighth of 10.

“I think I ran her back too quick at Churchill,” Colebrook said. “It was night racing, and the other thing was she was maybe a little too close to the pace. The filly that ended up winning it, the Tapit filly (Pretty City Dancer), came up on her outside and kind of ran by her, it was looking like she was making a pretty good move to that point. I don’t know if she ever had a horse run by her, maybe it kind of spooked her and she just stopped running for a bit or what.”

Colebrook drew a line through the performance, kept her on the work tab and started looking for opportunities on the turf.

To read the rest of the Bolton Landing preview, download Wednesday’s digital edition of The Saratoga Special presented by Keeneland Sales.