Saratoga Derby (9.5 furlongs on turf) – Race 9 – 8/7/2021
Soldier Rising – 3-year-old gelding by Frankel out of Sahrawi, formerly trained by Andre Fabre. A winner of two of his four starts. Steadily progressive profile at lower levels in France, landing a maiden (9f) and conditions race (12f), both with plenty of give in the ground, before posting a solid effort in a Listed race last time out. No match for the winner Fenelon – and had finished second to him previously on only other defeat – but that horse is still entered in the Arc and the pair were nicely clear. It’s interesting that Fenelon is trained by Nicolas Clement, the brother of Christophe Clement, Soldier Rising’s new trainer. Is it possible Nicolas told his brother that his horse was good, and that Soldier Rising must therefore be pretty decent as well? You couldn’t rule it out. Soldier Rising has plenty to find on form and is not certain to handle quick going but is an improving type who should pay his way in the US.
Cadillac – 3-year-old colt by Lope De Vega out of Sea Of Wells trained by Jessica Harrington, a winner of three of his six starts. Slightly hit and miss performer who looks very good when it all comes together. Ran a solid fourth in the Juvenile Turf at the end of last season when meeting interference early and has clearly come back in good form, winning his sole start this season. Only won by a head there in a bunched finish, but was carrying a 5lb penalty for an earlier win and could have done with a stronger pace. That form is solid with the third, True Self, having filled the same spot in a Group 1 over the same course and distance on her prior start. Conditions should be perfect for him and I think whatever beats him will probably win.
Bolshoi Ballet – 3-year-old colt by Galileo out of Alta Anna, trained by Aidan O’Brien. Looked a potential superstar prior to his flop in the Derby, but evidently that was a strong race and he had plenty of excuses, most notably a cut leg. Much the best in the Belmont Derby last time despite looking a tad rusty to me and having to do it the hard way, ending up swinging in about six wide, although that was largely because he was off the bridle fairly early. I expect him to take a step forward for that and show more speed, so he should be ridden closer to the pace this time – a classy colt who sets a high standard.
Secret Protector – by War Front out of Eternal Bounty, trained by Charlie Appleby. Dual winner who has run three solid races this year in the UK at Pattern level having scored at Meydan in February. No match for Mohaafeth twice but there’s no shame in losing to that potential top-notcher, and he produced a career best on the numbers when third in the Hampton Court at Royal Ascot last time. Has been seen to good effect on all of his starts this year but has always found at least one too good and he is likely to face the same scenario here, probably needing a big pace collapse or several to underperform to end up in the winners’ enclosure.
State Of Rest – by Starspangledbanner out of Repose, trained by Joseph O’Brien. Solid form in 2020 without winning anything more than a maiden, his best effort when third in the Group 2 Champagne Stakes at Doncaster. He has run once this season, finishing third in a Listed event at the Curragh behind a couple of horses who had graduated from handicaps. He’s a fair performer but hard to see him being up to this.