By Emily Shields
The July 25 card at Saratoga includes the Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap, a six-furlong contest for sprinters worth $250,000. This race has historically produced some grand runners, with the Little Rocket Imperial Hint winning the last two editions. That runner is now retired, leaving the 2020 running open with a small but exceptional field.
There are comparisons to be made between 2019 Champion Mitole and #4 Volatile (4-5). The son of Violence has won three in a row and four of five for trainer Steve Asmussen. The gray colt scored by eight lengths in Churchill Downs’s Aristides Stakes on June 6, and has worked a bullet five furlongs at Saratoga on July 13. Ricardo Santana, Jr. will ride the $850,000 purchase.
Facing him is some strong competition, including #2 Whitmore (2-1). The venerable sprint star won his only start here in 2018, a Grade 1 victory in the Forego. The Ron Moquett trainee has won two in a row, and has over $3 million in earnings. Joel Rosario will ride. The concern is that he hasn’t won outside of Oaklawn Park since that Saratoga win two years ago.
#3 Firenze Fire (4-1) was the winner of the True North (G2) at Belmont Park June 27. The five-year-old, who is trained by Kelly Breen, has won four of his last five and five of nine at the distance. He has been top three in three of five Saratoga starts, with his lone win here coming in the Grade 3 Sanford as a juvenile in 2017.
#5 Mind Control (6-1) is unbeaten in two starts on this track, including the Grade 1 H Allen Jerkens last summer. He has won two of three this year, with one lone disappointment in the Grade 1 Carter at Belmont June 6. That was over seven furlongs on a sloppy track, so watch the track condition.
#1 Lexitonian (20-1) is the longshot of the race, but is often overlooked. The son of Speightstown is often double-digit odds, but has still won four of 12 including two stakes races. He defeated Grade 1 winner Hog Creek Hustle in an allowance event at Churchill May 29.Bet on the 2020 Saratoga summer meeting every day with TVG.com.
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