By Michael Johnson —-
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. St. Elias Stable’s Ring Weekend will return to the site of his track record-setting effort when he headlines a field of 11 in the fifth running of the $100,000 Fasig-Tipton Lure on Saturday at Saratoga Race Course.
Ring Weekend set the Mellon turf record for 1 1/16 miles in last year’s Grade 2 Bernard Baruch, completing the course in 1:38.29. The 6-year-old Tapit gelding will return to the same track looking to recapture last year’s form. The Graham Motion trainee, who finished seventh in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Mile, returns to stakes company after a runner-up finish in an allowance race on June 15.
“He’s certainly seemed to tail off a little bit last year and into this year. It wasn’t all necessarily his fault,” Motion said. “Things didn’t really go his way. One of those races came off the grass. So, he just didn’t have an ideal trip out West.”
After finishing out of the money in four graded stakes starts to start his 2017 campaign, including a 10th-place effort in the Grade 2 Dixie on May 20 at Pimlico on a course Motion said Ring Weekend “didn’t handle well” because it was “chewed up” by bad weather and too much racing, the trainer opted for a freshening at Delaware Park.
“[It] actually turned out to be a pretty decent race,” Motion said. “The horse that beat him [Ghost Hunter] came back and won a stake at Arlington [G3 Arlington Handicap], but I thought [Ring Weekend] ran very well that day and kind of showed his old self, so this race seems like a pretty good fit.”
Ring Weekend’s impressive ledger at the Spa includes a victory in the 2014 Grade 3 Saranac and a second-place effort in that year’s Sir Cat. He drew post 8 on Saturday with Jose Ortiz in the irons.
Trinity Farm’s Macagone has run his best races at one mile, including capturing the 2016 running of the stakes named for his sire, Artie Schiller, at Aqueduct. Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott will try him at the slightly longer 1 1/16 mile distance in the Lure with Kendrick Carmouche in the saddle. Macagone will break from the outside post.
Trainer Chad Brown has three entries in the race. Juddmonte Farm’s Projected, coming off back-to-back second-place finishes in the Grade 2 Dixie and Grade 3 Poker at Belmont Park, breaks from the rail with Javier Castellano aboard. Takeover Target will load next to Projected in post 2 and will be ridden by Joel Rosario. Brown’s final entry, Camelot Kitten, will make his 2017 debut with Irad Ortiz, Jr. in the irons.
Rounding out the field is French shipper Aubenas, making his first start in the United States for trainer Al Stall with jockey Luis Saez; Phipps Stable’s Fire Away, trained by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey, has Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez aboard; Our Way for trainer Jimmy Bond with Florent Geroux in the saddle; Christophe Clement-trained Blacktype with Rajiv Maragh aboard; Vorticity for trainer Cal Lynch with rider Angel Arroyo; and trainer Kiaran McLaughlin sends out Zennor in his stakes debut with jockey Joe Bravo aboard.
McLaughlin has also entered multiple graded stakes winner Mohaymen to run on the maint rack only with jockey Junior Alvarado getting the call if weather forces the race to dirt. Also entered as an MTO is supplemental entry Red Rifle for trainer Todd Pletcher.
Cover Photo: Ring Weekend; Chelsea Durand Photo