Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s Mucho (Blame) took the worst of it at the start of his career debut at Belmont June 10 and ran on to finish a credible second behind favored Whiskey Echo (Tiznow). Despite getting off to a better start last time in a six-furlong Saratoga test Aug. 4, the bay was pinched back in the early going, but the setback proved inconsequential as he galloped off to an eye-catching 9 3/4-length victory, earning TDN Rising Star status in the process. Bill Mott, who trained the colt’s first two dams, including stakes winner Limit (Cox’s Ridge), connects at just under 30% when teaming up with Jose Ortiz.
“Mucho is doing good,” said Mott. “He was quite impressive. I think he was kind of the buzz horse for a few days around here after winning. People were commenting on how nice he looked. I mean visually he looked impressive.”
Nitrous (Tapit), who came up a neck short after a tardy start as the even-money choice at Churchill Downs June 14, lived up to his name with a sharp front-running victory second time out sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs here July 21. Trainer Steve Asmussen, who has been loaded with a slew of top-shelf youngsters thus far this season, enters Saratoga’s closing weekend third based on juvenile purse earnings, behind trainers Todd Pletcher and meet leader Chad Brown. Pletcher is represented by the sole stakes winner in this year’s renewal with Starlight Racing’s Sombeyay (Into Mischief), victorious in the six-furlong GIII Sanford S. July 21. A runaway winner in his career bow at Gulfstream in April, the bay was 3/4 of a length behind first-out winner Our Braintrust (Freud) in Belmont’s June 8 Tremont S.
Trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who has saddled a record eight career Hopeful wins, expects improvement from maiden Derby Date (Will Take Charge). Seventh in his debut July 28, the Calumet Farm runner was a much-improved second going seven-eighths two weeks late Aug. 11.
“I expect a real big effort, I really do,” said Lukas. “He had two outs; one that I don’t count, one that was very good. He got tired. You look at the replay, he did everything right except he got tired and that’s my fault not the horses’ fault. I do that a lot, run the horses, then I come back and run a little better. He got tired which is correctable, and it will [be corrected]. He won’t be tired.”
Derby Date will break from post 8 and will be ridden by Luis Saez, who was aboard for Lukas’s win last year with Sporting Chance (Tiznow).