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Elite Power Puts Streak On Line in Vanderbilt

The only thing Elite Power  knows how to do is win.

Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, whose barn is loaded this summer at Saratoga Race Course, will unleash the 5-year-old horse on he Spa July 29 when he runs him in the $350,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (G1) at six furlongs.

Six other horses will challenge the aptly named Elite Power, who seems to be in a class of his own in the sprint division.

Owned by Juddmonte, Elite Power has barreled through the competition since June 2022. When he broke his maiden in his fourth try at Churchill Downs on June 5, 2022, he forgot how to lose.

The streak is up to seven and Mott is enjoying the ride. He knows a little something about long winning streaks. He trained the great Cigar, who won 16 straight races in the mid-1990s, the first American horse to win that many since Triple Crown winner Citation did it between 1948 and 1950.

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“After a while, it’s sort of a sense of relief, I suppose, when they win,” Mott said outside his barn on the Oklahoma Training Track. “You sort of expect that they can win, but we all know it’s kind of foolish to expect it.”

Elite Power, a son of two-time Horse of the Year Curlin  , has won graded stakes in his last four starts, dating back to October of 2022. Included in that stretch was the 2022 Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) at Keeneland and that propelled him to the Eclipse Award as the nation’s top sprinter..

In his two starts this year, he won the True North Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park on June 10, Belmont Stakes Day, at 6 1/2 furlongs. Before that, he was victorious in the Riyadh Dirt Sprint (G3) at six furlongs in Saudi Arabia.

The Vanderbilt will be his second grade 1 race.

Elite Power, who will be ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., has won three of five attempts at six furlongs.

“If you have a long streak going, you tell yourself that they can win again,” Mott said. “If you keep taking them over, they can all get beat if you run them enough.”

Elite Power will start from post position 4 and is the 126-pound highweight.

Winchell Thoroughbreds’ 4-year-old Gunite , winner of eight of 17 career starts will try Elite Power for the second time this year. The son of Gun Runner   was second in the Riyadh Dirt Sprint, beaten 3 1/4 lengths.

He has two wins and two seconds in four Saratoga starts, including a win in the 2022 Amsterdam Stakes (G2).

“He’s hard as hickory as a horse can be mentally and physically,” Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen. “He doesn’t care where it’s at—Saratoga, Dubai, Saudi, Hot Springs—he’s going to run.”

Gunite will be ridden by Tyler Gaffalione, carry 122 pounds, and start from post position 5.

Saratoga’s leading trainer Linda Rice (13 wins) will try for the Vanderbilt upset when she saddles Winning Move Stable’s Gun It , who used to be in Asmussen’s barn.

The 7-year-old gelding, a son of Tapit  , will be making his 35th career start, fourth for Rice since being claimed for $62,500.

“Crazier things have happened,” Rice said. “Elite Power is a superstar. I would rather not be facing him, but we are looking for spots for this horse to compete in and this is one of them.”

This will be Gun It’s first graded stakes race since finishing seventh in the New Orleans Classic Stakes (G2) at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots on March 21, 2020.

He won his last start, an optional claiming event, on June 22 at Belmont.

“He is a quality horse and has a quality pedigree,” Rice said. “He was meant to be a good horse. Sometimes, these horses show up later in their careers. We will see.”

Gun It will start from the rail and will be ridden by Jose Ortiz, who won three races on July 26, all of them trained by Rice. They will carry 118 pounds.

Also entered is Dean Delivers , who is making his 17th career start and first outside the state of Florida. Owned by Stonehedge, he will carry 120 pounds, start from post 6, and be ridden by Emisael Jaramillo.

Victoria’s Ranch’s Little Vic  (118 pounds), who starts from post 7, won the Tom Fool Handicap (G3) on March 4 at Aqueduct Racetrack for trainer Juan Avila and jockey Carlos Olivero.

The 7-year-old Synthesis  (119 pounds, post 2), who is trained and owned by David Jacobson and will be ridden by Manny Franco, will be making his 48th career start; he has 10 career wins. The First Samurai   gelding is cross-entered in the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash Stakes, also on July 29, at Laurel Park.

Awesome Aaron, owned and trained by Troy Green, will make his stakes debut and will be ridden by Dylan Davis. The Practical Joke   colt will be asked to carry 116 pound from post 3.

Entries: Alfred G. Vanderbilt H. (G1)

Saratoga Race Course, Saturday, July 29, 2023, Race 8

  • Grade I
  • 6f
  • Dirt
  • $350,000
  • 3 yo’s & up
  • 4:26 PM (local)

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