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Saratoga Notes: Valente's Hot Stones seeks upset in Shuvee

Sunday, July 27, 2014
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— Hot Stones doesn’t look much like her father, Bustin Stones.

She’s a bay, for one thing, and he’s a chestnut.

“He puts a lot of white on their faces,” though, owner Roddy Valente of Loudonville pointed out on Saturday morning, and she has plenty of that, with a wide blaze on her nose.

She also has some black — as in the black type you get in sales catalogues for graded stakes placement — and Valente would like to see her get a little more in today’s Grade III Shuvee at Saratoga Race Course.

Coming off a win in the Grade III Bed o’ Roses, the New York-bred Hot Stones will try open company again and is 10-1 on the morning line for the Shuvee.

The field will be hard-pressed to beat 9-5 favorite Antipathy as she drops down from Grade I company, having finished third by just a neck behind Close Hatches in the Ogden Phipps on Belmont Stakes Day.

Valente, who owns a lucrative sand and gravel quarry in Troy, had plenty of fun with Bustin Stones, a New York-bred sprinter who retired undefeated from six starts that included two Grade I’s, the General George and Carter.

He’s having fun with some of his offspring, too, including Hot Stones, who broke her maiden at Saratoga last year and has won six of 11 career starts.

She had a breakthrough race two starts back when she was second by a half-length in the Critical Eye Stakes for state-breds at Belmont Park on May 3.

The winner that day was La Verdad, who is the 2-1 favorite in Monday’s Honorable Miss.

“The race prior [to the Bed o’ Roses] was an excellent one,” Valente said. “She finished second to La Verdad, and, to me, she’s one of the best fillies in the country. So, I don’t know, this filly matured, and I’ve always said, when fillies get good, they get real good, and when they get bad, they get real bad.”

Bustin Stones is proving to be a pretty decent sire despite the fact that he “really wasn’t bred to a lot of quality,” Valente said.

His first crop of 28 foals has produced 26 winners, and Valente said Bustin Stones’ progeny appear to be able to stay sound, based on how many of his 4-year-olds, such as Hot Stones, are still racing.

“It’s rewarding, because it’s hard enough to stand a stallion, and then getting one to run at Saratoga, it’s kind of like watching one of your children play in the big leagues, so it’s nice,” Valente said. “She’s built a little bit different. She’s got a little bit more scope. He was a lot blockier.”

That indicates that perhaps Hot Stones will take to longer distances.

She’ll go a mile and an eighth for the first time in the Shuvee.

“The one good thing is she went two turns going a mile, so that indicates she’s got to go an extra eighth of a mile, but she gives us every sign that she will, and I guess you’ve got to pay to find out,” Valente said.

The field for the Shuvee came up pretty salty despite the absence of Close Hatches, Princess of Sylmar and Beholder.

Besides Antipathy, Stanwyck has been third in three straight graded stakes, most recently 21⁄4 lengths behind Close Hatches in the Grade I Apple Blossom, and Unlimited Budget is a Grade II winner who didn’t miss by much when third to Princess of Sylmar and Beholder in the Kentucky Oaks last year.

Flashy American, the 5-2 second choice, second to Authenticity in the Shuvee last year, is coming off a third to Belle Gallantey and Princess of Sylmar in the Delaware Handicap.

HOPEFUL BOUND

A highly anticipated matchup between expensive 2-year-old debut runners turned into a runaway by the Todd Pletcher-trained Competitive Edge in the third race on Saturday.

A $750,000 purchase at the Fasig-Tipton Florida Sale in March, the son of Super Saver won by 91⁄4 lengths at odds of 4-5. He’ll point toward the Hopeful now, Pletcher said.

“He has never disappointed us in anything that he has done, literally, from the first time we breezed him,” Pletcher said. “So we had high hopes coming into today. It’s very exciting for us to have a son of Super Saver with this much talent.”

Super Saver (2010) was Pletcher’s only Kentucky Derby winner. Competitive Edge was an also-eligible who got in the race when Da Jenius scratched.

Aldrin, a $1 million purchase at Keeneland trained by Mechanicville’s Chad Brown, finished seventh.

SHEPPARD WINS

Razzle Jazil won the sixth race to give Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard a winner at Saratoga for the 46th year in a row.

The lightly raced 5-year-old gelding shipped up from Delaware Park to win his fourth straight.

AROUND THE TRACK

After starting the meet 0-for-19, apprentice jockey Taylor Rice got her first win, on Indy’s Million in the first race. ...

Luis Saez beat 12 rivals, including the coupled entry of brothers Jose and Irad Ortiz Jr., in the jockey footrace after the fifth race.

It was part of a national charity drive all day for the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund. ...

Golden Soul, the 2013 Kentucky Derby runner-up, finished last of eight in the fifth race. That’s nine straight losses by a total of almost 147 lengths since the Derby.

WHITNEY WORKS

Palace Malice, the leading contender for next Saturday’s Whitney Handicap, breezed five furlongs on the main track in :59.80 with John Velazquez aboard.

The 2013 Belmont and Jim Dandy winner was supposed to work today, but Pletcher said he called an audible and moved it up a day because of the weather forecast. “He worked great, and I can sleep tonight,” he said.

Other Whitney prospects who worked on the main track were Departing (48.79) under Robby Albarado and Moreno (58.91) with Junior Alvarado.

“He galloped out really, really well,” Albarado said of Departing. “I think he’s up for it next week.”

Golden Ticket breezed 1:01.87 on the Oklahoma.

 
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