Seven juveniles attempt to rise to the occasion in Runhappy Hopeful (G1)

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Seven juvenile colts will face off in a quest to garner their first respective Grade 1 victories in the 116th running of the Grade 1, $250,000 Runhappy Hopeful on Closing Day Monday, September 7 going seven furlongs over the main track at Saratoga Race Course.

The historic test is the first Grade 1 event for juvenile colts on the East Coast and has been used as a stepping stone to Hall of Fame worthy campaigns for all time greats Regret (1914), Man o’ War (1919), Whirlaway (1940), Native Dancer (1952), Nashua (1954), Needles (1955), Buckpasser (1965), Secretariat (1972), Foolish Pleasure (1974), and Affirmed (1978), while solidifying Eclipse Award honors for Champion 2-Year-Olds Chief’s Crown (1984), Dehere (1993), Favorite Trick (1997), and Shanghai Bobby (2012).

Shadwell Stables’ Mutasaabeq arrives at the Hopeful off a stylish maiden special weight victory on August 8 at Saratoga, where he drew off in the stretch to win by 4 ½ lengths on debut, garnering an 84 Beyer Speed Figure.

Trainer Todd Pletcher, who saddled Circular Quay (2006), Shanghai Bobby (2012) and Competitive Edge (2014) to Hopeful triumphs, said that has been particularly impressed by the son of Into Mischief’s works from the gate. Prior to his maiden win, he worked a half-mile in a swift 46.53 seconds over the Saratoga main track.

“He had trained extremely well leading into that race,” Pletcher said. “His gate works were very impressive although his first step is not lightning quick. After that, he really gets going. I’m happy with everything he did prior to his debut, we were excited about the way he ran, we’ve been pointing for the Hopeful since then. He’s trained accordingly.”

Pletcher said that Mutasaabeq’s natural speed allows him to recover quickly.

“Once he got going, he put in an impressive run around the turn and it seemed like he had a lot in reserve,” Pletcher said. “This will be a step up in class and a stretch out in distance. There are some quality horses in there as one would imagine in a race like this, but we’re excited about giving him the opportunity.

“Hopefully he jumps a little better second time out, but we’ll play it by ear,” Pletcher added. “I liked the way he finished the other day, so seven-eighths should be within his range.

Bred in Kentucky by BlackRidge Stables, Mutasaabeq is out of the Scat Daddy mare Downside Scenario and was purchased for $425,000 from the 2019 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, where he was consigned by Taylor Made Sales Agency.

Jockey Luis Saez, who rode 2017 Hopeful winner Sporting Chance, will ride from post 3.

After saddling last year’s winner Basin, Steve Asmussen will send out J. Kirk Robison’s Jackie’s Warrior as he attempts to become the first trainer to score back-to-back Hopeful wins since fellow Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas sent out High Yield (1999) and Yonaguska (2000).

The son of Maclean’s Music was an impressive winner of the Grade 2 Saratoga Special presented by Miller Lite on August 7, which garnered an 88 Beyer. He will look to become the first horse to sweep the Saratoga Special-Hopeful double since City Zip won the 2000 Saratoga Special before dead-heating for victory with Yonaguska that year.

Following a victory on debut at Churchill Downs over impressive next out winner Therideofalifetime, Jackie’s Warrior bested the same foe once more in the Saratoga Special in wire-to-wire fashion, crossing the wire under a hand ride by Joel Rosario.

“It’s good timing back, and he’s had a race over the track,” said Asmussen’s chief assistant Scott Blasi. “He’s done everything right for us in the mornings and we’re looking forward to running him. Seven-eighths of a mile is not going to be an issue for him.”

Rosario, the leading rider in stakes victories this meet, will return to the saddle from post 6.

Trainer Chad Brown sent out Practical Joke to a victory in the Hopeful for Klaravich Stables, who also won the 2011 Hopeful with Currency Swap. This year Brown and Klaravich will team up with Reinvestment Risk.

The son of freshman stallion Upstart won on debut and was geared down at the wire to a 7 ¾-length victory on August 1 at Saratoga, where he registered a 90 Beyer.

Bred in Kentucky by Aschinger Bloodstock Holdings, Reinvestment Risk was purchased for $280,000 from the OBS March Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training, where he was consigned by DeMeric Sales. He is out of the Candy Ride mare Ridingwiththedevil.

Jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. will be back aboard Reinvestment Risk from post 5.

Rounding out the field are Fearless Fly [post 1, Dylan Davis], Papetu [post 2, Jose Ortiz], Nutsie [post 4, Kendrick Carmouche], and Ampersand [post 7, Jose Lezcano].

The Runhappy Hopeful is slated as Race 13 on Monday’s Closing Day 14-race card, which will feature a mandatory payout of the Empire 6 beginning in Race 8 at 3:39 p.m. ET. The program also will feature the $85,000 Lure for older horses going 1 1/16 miles over the Mellon turf.

Monday’s card offers a first post of 11:30 a.m. Eastern. Saratoga Live will present daily television coverage of the 40-day summer meet on FOX Sports and MSG Networks. For the complete Saratoga Live broadcast schedule, and additional programming information, visit https://www.nyra.com/saratoga/racing/tv-schedule.

NYRA Bets is the official wagering platform of Saratoga Race Course, and the best way to bet every race of the 40-day summer meet. Available to horseplayers nationwide, NYRA Bets is currently offering a $200 new member bonus in addition to a host of special weekly offers. The NYRA Bets app is available for download today on iOS and Android at www.NYRABets.com.

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