American Sailor Pointed to G3 Troy at Saratoga Aug. 8 for Next Start

American Sailor Pointed to G3 Troy at Saratoga Aug. 8 for Next Start

G3 Charles Town Oaks Possible for ‘Sweet’ Laurel Maiden Winner
‘He Sounded Great:’ Agent Talks to Injured Jockey Rosario Montanez
Lynch Named on Five Mounts as Live Racing Returns to Laurel Thursday

LAUREL, MD – Firm in his belief that Raj Jagnanan’s stakes winner American Sailor is better than ever at the age of 8, trainer Wayne Potts is taking aim at a big target.

Based with Potts at Laurel Park, where he opened his season in impressive fashion last month, American Sailor is being pointed to a return to graded-stakes competition in the $200,000 Troy (G3) Aug. 8 on the Saratoga turf.

The 5 ½-furlong Troy would be the third time facing graded company for American Sailor and the first since running 10th in the 2016 Twin Spires Turf Sprint (G3) at Churchill Downs for previous trainer Joe Sharp.

“He has a huge heart, a huge heart. He just does everything you ask him to do,” Potts said. “When he hits the racetrack, he’s all business.”

American Sailor, a gelded son of City Zip, won a turf sprint stakes at Sam Houston in 2016 and ran second in subsequent editions to begin his 2017, 2018 and 2019 campaigns. The connections skipped the trip this past winter and wound up not getting started until June 8, in part due to the coronavirus pandemic that paused live racing in Maryland for 2 ½ months until May 30.

“I think we did the right thing by finally letting him go out and drop his head and be a horse. We gave him the winter off and he came back, and I think he’s better now than when I previously had him, knock on wood, that’s for sure,” Potts said. “We’re very pleased with him.”

The speedy American Sailor earned his 14th career victory in the third-level optional claiming allowance at Laurel, opening up by as many as five lengths after a half-mile to win by a length in 1:03.53 for 5 ½ furlongs. He followed up with a determined runner-up effort after setting the pace in the Wolf Hill Stakes July 18 at Monmouth, finishing between Archidust and Shekky Shebaz – both turf stakes winners at Saratoga.

“It was a very solid field. We were thrilled. It was a super effort, and he gave it everything he had,” Potts said. “He came out of the race very good so I nominated him to the Troy. We’re going to look at the race at Saratoga, and I nominated him to the Da Hoss [Aug. 15] at Colonial [Downs] as a backup plan.”

American Sailor, seventh in last year’s Da Hoss, is among 17 nominees to the Troy. He was claimed by Potts for $25,000 out of a Sept. 3, 2017 win at Suffolk Downs and ran nine times with two wins and a second in the stakes at Sam Houston before being lost for a $7,500 tag in June 2018.

Jagnanan purchased American Sailor privately after he made one start for owner-trainer David Nunn, and has a record of 4-3-1 with nearly $300,000 in purse earnings from 12 races since being reunited with Potts.

Potts made two starts at Saratoga last summer, both with the gelding Dazzling Okie, finishing third in a mid-July claimer.

“I’ve never won a race at Saratoga, so it would be a steppingstone in the right direction,” Potts said. “We might get a short field there, who knows. We have to see how it all plays out, but as long as he stays like he is right now, I plan on being there.”

G3 Charles Town Oaks Possible for ‘Sweet’ Laurel Maiden Winner

Five Hellions Farm’s Dontletsweetfoolya, an eye-catching maiden winner July 24 at Laurel Park, is under consideration for the rescheduled $200,000 Charles Town Oaks (G3) Aug. 28.

The seven-furlong Oaks for 3-year-old fillies was postponed to late August amid the coronavirus pandemic. It would be mark the stakes debut for Dontletsweetfoolya, a sophomore daughter of Grade 1 winner Stay Thirsty based at Laurel with trainer Lacey Gaudet.

In 2018, the Gaudet-trained Chauncey was second by a neck at odds of 42-1 behind multiple graded-stakes winner Late Night Pow Wow in the Oaks, contested around two turns on Charles Town’s six-furlong main track.

“We’re going to nominate her to the Charles Town Oaks. I’ve had a little bit of luck in that race in the past. That’s really been the only thing we’ve considered looking into,” Gaudet said. “But, it being Charles Town and knowing that one of her issues is that she lugs out, and I don’t know if they’re going to let outside riders go in, so you have to take that into consideration with her being kind of a finicky filly. We might just take it step by step and do the normal thing and go in a-other-than here and take that route.”

Dontletsweetfoolya fetched just $1,500 at Keeneland’s November 2017 breeding stock sale, then was sold for $160,000 as a 2-year-old in training last June in Ocala. The bay Kentucky-bred ran twice as a juvenile, running fifth and third in a pair of maiden special weights last fall at Laurel, the latter Nov. 1.

“She’s a really nice filly. Obviously they paid quite a bit. She’s definitely the highest-priced horse I’ve had in the barn for a while. Great owners; really, really good guys,” Gaudet said. “She came in as a 2-year-old and she’s a little bit of a head case. If you watch the replay from the race before last, you can see she really blew a lot of ground.

“We gave her some time off and sent her to Ocala to Brian Wright and he did a fantastic job with her, training her and trying little different things to get the quirks out of her, and she’s come back this year like a different horse,” she added. “I don’t know if it’s just that she matured or all the corrective stuff that we really tried to work on with her, but it certainly has made a difference.”

Quirks aside, Gaudet got a clue early on of Dontletsweetfoolya’s ability. She regularly worked with the colt Double Crown before the latter was sold privately to Dean Reeves following his maiden win at Laurel last fall and moved to trainer Cathy Ritvo in South Florida, where he has won back-to-back stakes at Gulfstream Park.

“She was breezing with Double Crown last year and she was blowing the doors off him. He’s not like a huge work horse but he’ll stay with anything that he goes with, and she blew him away,” Gaudet said. “So to see what came of him and that she could beat him, we knew she was a nice filly and she’s got some talent.”

Dontletsweetfoolya made her 3-year-old debut June 19 at Laurel, drifting five wide midway on the turn before settling for third, beaten just a half-length. In last weekend’s race, she sprinted to the early lead and rolled to a 9 ½-length triumph in 1:10.27 for six furlongs over a sloppy and sealed main track.

“[The Oaks] would check a lot of boxes, being graded and being close, but we’re not sure. We haven’t thought too much about it yet,” Gaudet said. “We’re just taking it step by step.”

‘He Sounded Great:’ Agent Talks to Injured Jockey Rosario Montanez

When his phone rang Monday evening, jockey agent Joe Rocco Sr. thought it was going to be a regular update on his client, Rosario Montanez, who was injured in a July 17 spill at Laurel Park.

It turned out to be much more. Though the number displayed was of Montanez’s fiancé, Chloe LaBarre, Rocco got the surprise of his life when he answered.

“Her number showed up, but it was him on the phone,” Rocco said. “He spoke to me. He’s got a long road ahead of him … but he sounded great. It was great news.”

A San Diego native who was a finalist for the 2011 Eclipse Award as champion apprentice, Montanez was unseated when his mount, 4-year-old filly Hendaya, clipped heels and fell leaving the backstretch of a 5 ½-furlong turf sprint for filly and mare claimers 3 and up. While he was being tended to on the track, Hendaya was able to get up and jog off the turf course.

Montanez, 28, underwent surgery July 18 to repair several fractures in his back at the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore. Rocco said the rider was being transferred Tuesday to another facility in the city to begin rehabilitation for his brain injuries.

“I had to explain to him what I thought happened. It was just a bad incident he went through,” Rocco said. “He didn’t even know he had surgery, which is a great sign. He’s doing well.”

A winner of more than 3,700 career races during his riding career and whose son, Joe Jr. is a jockey based in Kentucky, Rocco gets emotional when talking both to and about Montanez.

“He’s my friend. I really care about him a lot,” Rocco said. “I couldn’t believe it when he talked to me. I didn’t know if he was going to make it or not, that’s how bad it was. But, you know he asked me when he’s going to be back racing. He said, ‘Let’s figure this out.’”

A GoFundMe account launched by Laurel trainer Brittany Russell July 18 has raised $37,505 to go toward general living and medical expenses. An initial goal of $20,000 was surpassed in less than 24 hours, and a second $30,000 goal reached days later. The goal has been updated to $50,000.

“I would like to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart for coming together to help us out,” LaBarre wrote on the GoFundMe website. “Please continue to pray for him! I’m so thankful for everything people have done for him. It means so much to us.”

Click here
to donate to Montanez’s GoFundMe campaign.

Lynch Named on Five Mounts as Live Racing Returns to Laurel Thursday

Jockey Feargal Lynch, who missed two days last weekend with body soreness from a July 23 fall, is named in five of nine races as live racing returns to Laurel Park Thursday, July 30.
First race post time is 12:40 p.m.

Ranked among the leading riders at Laurel’s summer meet, the 42-year-old Lynch was shaken up when his mount, Epitomize, clipped heels and dumped him leaving the backstretch of a 1 1/8-mile allowance for 3-year-olds and up. Epitomize was uninjured and walked off the track.

Lynch took off the rest of his mounts that day, and agent Chris Pipito said X-rays taken later than night were negative. Lynch then sat out July 24 and 25 programs at Laurel as a precaution.

Named to ride in each of the final five races Thursday including Midship Lady (Race 6) and Lunar Rille (Race 8) in a pair of allowance events, Lynch also has calls in six of nine races on Laurel’s Friday, July 31 card.

A two-time meet-leading rider at Pimlico Race Course, Lynch ranks sixth at Laurel’s summer stand in wins (12) and purse earnings ($392,398). He owns 525 career North American victories and nearly $19 million in purses earned, according to Equibase statistics.

There will be a jackpot carryover of $3,335.02 in Thursday’s 20-cent Rainbow 6 (Races 4-9). The sequence includes four races scheduled for Laurel’s world-class turf course attracting a total of 39 entries, an average of 9.75 starters per race.