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New York Turf Writers Cup 2020: Entries & Odds at Saratoga

Optimus Prime and Moscato to battle in 2020 New York Turf Writers Cup (G1)

Optimus Prime and Moscato, the 1-2 finishers of last month’s Grade 1 A. P. Smithwick Memorial, will battle once more in the Grade 1, $100,000 New York Turf Writers Cup steeplechase at Saratoga Race Course on Thursday, August 20.

Less than a length separated the classy duo at the finish line of the 2 1/16-mile Smithwick on July 23 at the Spa. The pair, who each carry a field-high 160 pounds, will stretch out to 2 3/8-miles in Thursday’s test.

Entry Horse ML Odds Jockey Trainer
1 Rashaan (IRE) 20-1 Thomas Garner
144 Lbs
Leslie Young
2 Pravalaguna (FR) 20-1 Kieran Norris
143 Lbs
Jack Fisher
3 Redicean (GB) 10-1 Gerard Galligan
142 Lbs
Leslie Young
4 Belisarius (IRE) 30-1 Bernard Dalton
140 Lbs
Kate Dalton
5 Moscato (GB) 6-5 Michael Mitchell
160 Lbs
Jack Fisher
6 Optimus Prime (FR) 9-5 Darren Nagle
160 Lbs
Richard Hendriks
7 Zanjabeel (GB) 5-1 Ross Geraghty
152 Lbs
Richard Hendriks
8 Gibralfaro (IRE) 10-1 Sean McDermott
142 Lbs
Jack Fisher

Moscato, a 9-year-old Hernando gelding trained by Jack Fisher for Bruton Street-US, made a winning return to racing last season in the Grade 3 Temple Gwathmey Hurdle Handicap at Glenwood Park at Middleburg after missing his entire 2018 campaign.

The ultra-consistent grey boasts a record of 33-12-7-3 and is a perfect 2-for-2 this year including a successful title defense of the Temple Gwathmey Hurdle Handicap in June to open his campaign.

Fisher said the talented Moscato’s record could boast even more wins with a bit of racing luck.

“I think he’s had a bit of bad luck in the past. There’s a couple of races I thought he should have won but he got stopped or something happened,” said Fisher. “The race set up well for him last time, but he’s a nice horse. He won going two miles at Royal Ascot and he’s a true stayer.”

Last out, under returning rider Michael Mitchell, Moscato rallied five-wide down the lane and overtook a game and determined Optimus Prime for a three-quarter length score.

Fisher said the added distance on Thursday will suit Moscato.

Horse Racing Rebates

“I think he’ll enjoy the added distance. In the Smithwick, I thought he was beaten in the stretch,” said Fisher. “I just hope that horse [Optimus Prime] didn’t need the race. I thought we were going to be fourth turning for home.”

Fisher will also be represented by 2019 New York Turf Writers Cup runner-up Gibralfaro [Sean McDermott], who was the third-place finisher in the Smithwick and also last year’s Grade 2 David L. Ferguson Memorial Handicap winner; and Pravalaguna [Kieran Norris], who will make her third start in North America after being eased last out in the Smithwick.

“Gibralfaro was second in the Turf Writers last year and he’s just a hard-trying horse,” said Fisher. “He’s not the most talented but he makes up for it with his perseverance and try. You have to love a horse like that.

“It was never the plan to run Pravalaguna at Saratoga,” continued Fisher. “She’s a bigger, heavier horse and I thought we’d wait until the fall but now Far Hills isn’t going to run. She wasn’t quite ready for the last race but I think she’ll enjoy the distance this time.”

Rosbrian Farm’s Optimus Prime, an 8-year-old Deportivo gelding trained by Richard Hendriks, captured the 2018 New York Turf Writers Cup in his North American debut. He went on to win three of his next four starts including Grade 2 scores at Great Meadow in the 2018 David L. Ferguson Memorial Handicap and 2019 David Semmes Memorial Hurdle Handicap.

Optimus Prime, who will again have the services of Darren Nagle, entered the Smithwick off a one-year-layoff and was brave in defeat after emerging with the lead at the stretch call and battling strong to the wire under pressure.

Hendriks will also send out multiple Group 1-winner Zanjabeel for his second start of the season. The 7-year-old Aussie Rules gelding, owned by Rosbrian Farm and Meadow Run Farm, closed out his 2018 campaign with Grade 1 wins in the Calvin Houghland Iroquois Hurdle at Percy Warner and the Lonesome Glory Handicap at Belmont Park.

Zanjabeel finished fourth in this lone start last season in the Grade 2 David L. Ferguson Memorial Handicap at Great Meadow and was eased last out in the Grade 3 Temple Gwathmey Hurdle Handicap won by Moscato in June.

Ross Geraghty, aboard for the Iroquois score, returns to the irons Thursday.

Leslie Young will saddle the promising pair of Rashaan [Thomas Garner], in search of his first North American win in his fourth attempt, and Redicean [Gerard Galligan], who captured the 2019 Jonathan Kiser Novice at the Spa and was fourth last out in the Smithwick.

Rounding out the field is the Kate Dalton-conditioned Belisarius [Bernard Dalton], who finished fifth last out in the Jonathan Kiser Novice on July 22 at the Spa.

The Grade 1 New York Turf Writers Cup is slated as Race 1 on Thursday’s nine-race card, which offers a first post of 12:50 p.m. Eastern. – US Legal Saratoga OTB is a great way to bet horse racing at Saratoga. Available to customers across the United States, OTB features both Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing from major racing venues in the US as well as top international racing from Europe, Japan, Australia and Hong Kong.

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