A historically memorable stakes tradition, it was in the Sanford Stakes that Man o’ War’s mighty undefeated record fell to a horse named Upset. In 2015, the race caused some upset among bettors and fans alike when an oncharging Magna Light was disqualified to third for slight interference despite being much the best, elevating Todd Pletcher trainee Uncle Vinny to first.
Will we see an upset or a very upsetting result this year? Maybe, but maybe not so, thanks in part to a small field of five lining up to the gate for the 146th running of the $150,000 Sanford Stakes (III) at six furlongs for two-year-olds.
Once again, Todd Pletcher storms the hallowed grounds of Saratoga with his two-year-old crew, entering $350,000 Keeneland yearling Bronson in the Sanford in hopes of winning the stakes race for a record seventh time. Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, who has won the Sanford seven times already, will be aboard the son of Medaglia d’Oro for owner Mathis Racing. Bronson broke his maiden last month at Monmouth by 1 3/4 lengths over a similarly small field, and the gray colt looks to be bred for distance being out of a multiple graded stakes winning daughter of Avenue of Flags (Seattle Slew)
The tough morning line choice, however, is Bitumen likely based off of his sharp pedigree and 6 3/4 length maiden snap at Churchill Downs on June 30. The son of Mineshaft and Kobla Cat, a half sister to multiple Grade 1 winner Quality Road, was purchased for $280,000 in March and earned a strong 86 Beyer speed figure for trainer Eddie Kenneally and owner Joseph W. Sutton in his first start.
Top photo of Uncle Vinny courtesy of NYRA/Adam Coglianese