First Captain breezes for the G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup
SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY—West Point Thoroughbreds and Woodford Racing’s Battle of Normandy displayed a strong career debut in the Whitney Day opener, going 1 1/16 miles over the inner turf at Saratoga Race Course for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey.
“I don’t think Shug was expecting as good of a race, but I know he was very confident in his Shug way,” said Terry Finley of West Point Thoroughbreds. “When I saw him in the paddock, I could tell he had come so far in the last few months. That’s exactly what these types of horses are supposed to do.”
Battle of Normandy is a 2-year-old son of Grade 1-winner City of Light, a freshman stallion held in high regard by Finley.
“We’re big fans of City of Light. We have a big group of partners that are shareholders in him,” Finley said. “Obviously, we supported him last year at the yearling sales. We bought three or four of them. The stallion is right for us, this horse should get better and better. On a day like yesterday, Whitney Day, he put a smile on a lot of people’s faces.”
Finley expressed gratitude in having an abundance of options for the talented colt moving forward, including the Grade 3, $175,000 With Anticipation on September 2 at Saratoga, the Grade 1 Summer on September 17 at Woodbine, or the Grade 2 Bourbon on October 9 at Keeneland .
“We’ll let Shug make the call. He likes this horse and I think there are several good spots for him,” said Finley. “It’s indicative of where, in America, we’re trying to migrate more and more to the turf. So, you look at things like the With Anticipation, Kentucky Downs, the Grade 1 at Woodbine and the race at Keeneland. I love the fact that we’re starting to move in that direction, so we have options with an exciting colt like this. Now, we have to pick our one spot to hopefully get to the Breeders’ Cup.”
Bought for $500,000 from the Lane’s End consignment at the 2021 Fasig-Tipton New York Saratoga Select Yearling Sale, Battle of Normandy is out of the Kitten’s Joy mare Adorable Miss, who is a half-sister to graded stakes winner Noble Beauty.
In other West Point Thoroughbreds-related news, two-time graded stakes winner First Captain worked five furlongs over the main track in 1:01.66 on Sunday morning in preparation for the Grade 1, $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup on September 3 at Saratoga. It was his third work since a narrow defeat to Dynamic One in the Grade 2 Suburban on July 9 at Belmont Park.
“He worked well today and finished with a lot of enthusiasm,” Finley said. “He has a nice confidence about him and we’re looking forward to the rematch in the Jockey Club Gold Cup with Dynamic One. I know Dynamic One won’t be the only one we have to contend with, there will be a really nice group of older handicap horses in that race.”
The 10-furlong Jockey Club Gold Cup is a Breeders’ Cup “Win And You’re In” qualifier for the Grade 1, $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland. After watching multiple Grade 1-winner Life Is Good take Saturday’s Grade 1 Whitney, also a WAYI qualifier for the Classic, he welcomes the opportunity to face a horse of his ilk in the Classic.
“I thought the Whitney was so intriguing. Those kind of races, we’re fans of the business for. Give a lot of credit to Life Is Good,” Finley said. “He showed up and threw down the gauntlet. We’re excited about the prospect of facing him at some point. He’s a tough horse on appear to want to run against. I think the Jockey Club Gold Cup will be one of the most competitive upper-level races of the Saratoga meet.”
NYRA Press Office
Photo by Joe Labozzetta