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Trappe Shot Seeks Stakes Hat Trick in Vanderbilt

TRAPPE SHOT (Tapit) will go for his third straight stakes win on Sunday while facing seven rivals in the $250,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt H. (G1) at Saratoga. The Kiaran McLaughlin pupil began his current win streak on May 11 when taking the Waldoboro S. at Belmont Park in his four-year-old bow. He followed up one month later at Big Sandy with a dominating 8 1/2-length victory in the True North H. (G2), showing signs of the same form that saw the chestnut take four races by a combined 29 1/2 lengths as a three-year-old.

'We feel like he's there right now, so it's important to win a Grade 1 for him as a stallion and maybe as champion sprinter,' McLaughlin said. 'We don't want to get ahead of ourselves, but he's doing very well.'

McLaughlin expressed concern over Trappe Shot's tendency to have trouble at the start of his races, but said his versatile running style helps him land a good trip, regardless of how he comes out of the gate.

'I asked (jockey) Johnny (Velazquez), 'What post would you like?' And he said, 'It doesn't matter with him,’ McLaughlin noted. 'It's nice to hear that from a jockey. Sometimes you are concerned because he has not broken cleanly in every race. His last race was probably his best race breaking. He stumbles a lot, so hopefully he breaks well. You don't want to give up too many lengths going six furlongs against this type.'

Velazquez has been aboard for Trappe Shot's two races this year and retains the mount on the 118-pound Vanderbilt highweight from the outside post 8.

Looking to derail Trappe Shot's chances for a stakes hat trick on Sunday will be NOBLE'S PROMISE (Cuvee). The Kenny McPeek runner was given the summer off last year after finishing a close fifth in the St. James's Palace S. (Eng-G1) at Royal Ascot. He returned in the fall to take the Jimmy V. 'Don't Give Up...' S. at Churchill Downs before closing out his sophomore campaign with another nice fifth in the Malibu S. (G1).

Once again given some time off the track, the bay made his seasonal bow in the Churchill Downs S. (G2), finishing just two lengths back of the winner in fifth. It didn't take him long to find the winner's circle, though, as Noble's Promise scored in the Aristides S. (G3) on June 4 and was third in the Smile Sprint H. (G2) in his past two. Alan Garcia has the call in the Vanderbilt.

APRIORITY (Grand Slam), who will be trying for his first stakes win on Sunday, almost faced Noble's Promise in the Smile Sprint. However, the four-year-old was withdrawn from consideration after developing a foot abscess and has trained up to the Vanderbilt for trainer David Fawkes.

'We might be a little behind the eight ball, but we need to run and he usually brings his 'A' game over,' Fawkes said.

CALIBRACHOA (Southern Image) will do his best to factor in the final stages of the race while gaining a measure of revenge against Trappe Shot. The dark bay colt had a four-race win streak broken last out when third in the True North for trainer Todd Pletcher. Prior to that, he had racked up scores in the Tom Fool H. (G3) and Toboggan S. (G3). Javier Castellano will be in the saddle for the first time aboard Calibrachoa.

One race earlier on Saratoga's Sunday card, CHAMPAGNE D'ORO (Medaglia d'Oro) will attempt to get back to her winning ways in the $150,000 Honorable Miss H. (G2). The six-furlong dash has also drawn recent A Gleam H. (G2) victress IRISH GYPSY (Hennessy) and Grade 2 heroine TAR HEEL MOM (Flatter), but Champagne d'Oro is the one to watch as she makes just her second start following a six-month layoff.

The Eric Guillot charge captured both the Test S. (G1) and Acorn S. (G1) last year, but tailed off toward the end of the season to finish unplaced in her final three starts. She was fourth on January 16 in the El Encino S. (G2), but wouldn't be seen again until showing up at Calder on July 9 in the Princess Rooney H. (G1).

'She was good enough last year, but by the time she had won the Test and gone back to California she was a tired horse,' Guillot explained. 'We freshened her up, and ran her at Calder in a Grade 1. She needed the race.'

In the Princess Rooney, Champagne d'Oro stalked the pace, loomed in midstretch and flattened out late.

'She broke the bias,' Guillot said. 'The track was drying out that day and the speed backed up. The horses that were 1-2-3 in front of her finished seventh, ninth, and 10th. She punched through at the eighth-pole and looked like she was going to win, but she came up a little short. That race under her belt is going to make all the difference in the world.'

Irish Gypsy was a slight surprise in the A Gleam when leading all the way home, and owns winning experience over conventional dirt tracks having taken the Valid Expectations S. at Lone Star Park on May 30. Velazquez will control the reins on the Bob Baffert-conditioned mare in the Honorable Miss.

'She's bounced out of her last race really well,' Baffert said. 'I sort of got talked into running by Angel Cordero -- he says I can't lose -- but when they're in the zone and doing well, you've got to run them.'

Tar Heel Mom won the Sugar Swirl S. (G3) back in January and has been consistent all year long while also racking up victories in the Nany S. and Harmony Lodge S. The Stanley Hough trainee has missed in her past two, the Sweet and Sassy S. and My Juliet S., but could easily rebound here with yet another win under jockey Alex Solis.

'She's had a little break since her last race and she's doing great,' Hough said. 'She's had a little bleeding issue (throughout her career), but I've worked her and she's showing no signs of it, so we're hoping for a good race from her.

'She's great, she really is,' Hough added. 'Except when there's been outside interference, she really tries hard. She had a small condylar fracture behind last year and she came back so good from that, and she's always been very sound other than that.'



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