Saratoga: Balance the Books seeks redemption in Hall of Fame Stakes
SARATOGA SPRINGS Memories of the Kentucky Derby surely will be shared this morning.
Trainer Chad Brown would prefer to re-create the With Anticipation in the afternoon.
The class of 2013, including three-time Derby-winning jockey Calvin Borel, will be inducted into the National Racing Hall of Fame at 10:30 a.m., then the card at Saratoga Race Course will feature the Grade II National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame.
The field will include Balance the Books, who won the With Anticipation last year over the same mile and a sixteenth on the inner turf course that will be used for today’s stakes.
In fact, three of the top four from that race are back for the Hall of Fame race.
Balance the Books, a son of Lemon Drop Kid, hasn’t had any success as a 3-year-old, but the Mechanicville native Brown believes being on a course that he likes could make a difference.
“He proved he liked the turf course here last year,” Brown said. “It seems like he’s rounding back into form, so we’re going to give him a shot in here.”
Balance the Books made his career debut on the turf at Saratoga, finishing second by a half-length to Cravin Carats.
After winning the With Anticipation, he won the Grade III Bourbon at Keeneland and didn’t miss by much in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, finishing third by a length and a half.
He tried synthetic surfaces twice, to no avail, so Brown put him back on the turf for the Solar Splendor at Belmont Park, and Balance the Books was third by a length and a half behind Notacatbutallama.
Notacatbutallama joins the With Anticipation reunion, along with Todd Pletcher stablemate Charming Kitten, who took a shot at the Kentucky Derby in his only career start on conventional dirt and was up the track behind Orb.
Pletcher put him back on the turf, and Charming Kitten was second in the Menn Mile and second in the Virginia Derby. Notacatbutallama has won two straight, the Hill Prince and Solar Splendor.
“He’s run really well, and we were just a little unfortunate the other day in the Virginia Derby when he just missed,” Pletcher said of Charming Kitten. “He consistently shows up and runs hard every time.”
Like Balance the Books, Notacatbutallama began his career at a mile and a sixteenth on the Saratoga turf, winning by 6 1⁄2 lengths.
“He showed a lot of talent right from the beginning,” Pletcher said. “He just seems to keep getting better and better. The thing that seems a little different with him this year as opposed to last is that he’s learned to polish off a race. He’s had a tendency to make the lead at times and idle a little bit, but now he’s beginning to finish up well.”
The matchup within the race will be the fifth meeting between Charming Kitten and Rydilluc.
Rydilluc has finished ahead of Charming Kitten in victories in the Grade III Palm Beach and Penn Mile, and has finished behind him in the Virginia Derby and Blue Grass, although Charming Kitten failed to win either of those.
“I think that horse and my horse probably know each other,” said Gary Contessa, who trains Rydilluc. “They probably talk to each other going down the backside. I mean, they’ve run against each other so many times.”
Charming Kitten is coupled with Get in Line, who is also owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, and the entry is 9-5 on the morning line, followed by Rydilluc (2-1), Balance the Books (7-2) and Notacatbutallama (4-1).
Charming Kitten’s presence in the race offers a faint echo of the Kentucky Derby, but that will be a central theme when Borel is inducted in the morning.
He’s the only jockey in history to win three of them in the span of four years.
Besides being the regular rider for Rachel Alexandra, who capped her Horse of the Year campaign with a win against males in the Woodward at Saratoga, Borel won the Derby in 2007 on Street Sense, 2009 on Mine That Bird and 2010 on Super Saver.
The induction ceremony will be held at 10:30 in the Fasig-Tipton sales pavilion and is free and open to the public. The ceremony can also be viewed live online at www.-racingmuseum.org.
Besides Borel, inductees include the horses Housebuster, Invasor, Lure, McDynamo and Tuscalee.
The Hall of Fame will also honor two inaugural Pillars of the Turf, August Belmont II and Paul Mellon.