1:50 Saint Cloud – Mr Maximum
This 1m6f claimer has most of the angles loved by followers of French racing – a non French-bred horse in a claimer and now with a female jockey to take the extra 2kg off.
Mr Maximum is an American-bred son of Creative Cause who is dropping back into claiming company after running a respectable fifth in a Clairefontaine handicap. Before that run he had broken his maiden in a claimer over an extended 1m6f, also at Clairefontaine.
Mr Maximum is the only horse in the field with winning experience over this sort of trip, he is officially the highest rated horse in the field, trainer Francis-Henri Graffard is putting blinkers on him, and Hayley Turner is taking 2kg off his back.
While Saint Cloud is traditionally a difficult track to ride, Turner has two earlier rides on the card so should be set for Mr Maximum.
This son of Lawman has been an absolute revelation since going handicapping and stepping up in trip with back-to-back successes in the space of six days at Kempton.
Trainer Sir Mark Prescott has found another race for the taking here in this amateur riders’ handicap and has booked one of the leading amateur riders in Serena Brotherton.
Wolfcatcherjack carries a 6lb penalty but he won, at this level, with a penalty last time out. He raced much closer to the pace last week and therefore the shorter stretch of Wolverhampton compared to Kempton should not be a problem.
Laura Knight found only W G Grace too good last time over 6f at Kempton in a similar level nursery going down by just a neck.
Trainer Gary Moore is putting cheekpieces on this daughter of Dark Angel for the first time and, with the return of Silvestre De Sousa in the saddle, Laura Knight might take all the catching on the front end. A repeat of the effort she put up at Kempton last week may suffice.
10:40 Saratoga (Race 9) - #3 Orbolution
The feature race on the final Thursday at Saratoga is the $100,000 Listed PG Johnson Stakes for two-year-old fillies going a mile on the turf.
This is traditionally an early marker post for horses running in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf and is the prep for the Miss Grillo Stakes at Belmont which is the main US prep for the Breeders’ Cup – remember the Juvenile Fillies Turf has been won by an American runner in seven of its nine renewals – including by Tapisfly who won this race in 2009.
This year’s edition of the PG Johnson features a seven-strong field and the standout filly is Orbolution, a daughter of the first crop of Kentucky Derby winner Orb.
Last time out over course and distance she broke her maiden, on her turf debut, in impressive fashion going away by 2½ lengths. She now enters this race as the only runner with two-turn turf experience at Saratoga and has the excellent trainer and jockey combo of Todd Pletcher and Johnny V behind her.
Rachel's tips for Thursday:
1:50 Saint Cloud: Mr Maximum
5:40 Wolverhampton: Wolfcatcherjack
6:40 Wolverhampton: Laura Knight
10:40 Saratoga (Race 9): #3 Orbolution