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Mitole, Imperial Hint Set to Compete at Saratoga on Saturday
Mitole and Imperial Hint, two of the best sprinters in the country, are set to go against each other in the 35th running of the $350,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (G1) on Saturday. The race at Saratoga Race Course will be a six-furlong event for 3-year-olds. It pays tribute to Alfred G. Vanderbilt, Hall of Fame owner, breeder, and ambassador responsible for names such as Discovery, Next Move, Bed o’ Roses, and Native Dancer.
Mitole has won seven races in a row, and he is coming off of two Grade 1 victories. He is owned by William and Corinne Heiligbrodt. He is trained by Steve Asmussen, who has won the Vanderbilt two times.
The colt scored a win at Belmont Park in the Runhappy Metropolitan Handicap. In that race, Mitole defeated five Grade/Group 1-winners. He achieved a career-best 108 Beyer Speed Figure. The other time he received that high of a number was after defeating Grade-1-winner Whitmore in his first graded stakes win at the Grade 3 Count Fleet Sprint at Oaklawn Park.
Mitole has been training at the Oklahoma Training Track since late June. Since then, he has recorded a three-furlong move in 38.11 seconds on July 21.
“He’s been training impressively all year, and hopefully it continues,” trainer Steve Asmussen said.
Mitole has a total of 11 career starts, and he has never finished worse than third. The last time he didn’t cross the line first was when he came in second in the Gazebo last February at Oaklawn. After that, he finished seven lengths ahead of allowance company, and at the Bachelor, he won by nine lengths. He won again in the Chick Lang at Pimlico in May 2018.
The impressive colt took a break before returning to racing last March. At Oaklawn Park, Mitole won in a six-furlong allowance by 4 3/4 lengths.
Jockey Ricardo Santana, Jr., will be the rider on Saturday at the Vanderbilt. He has been Mitole’s rider in all eight of the horse’s victories.
Imperial Hint will also be running on Saturday. If he wins, he will be the first back-to-back winner since Cognizant in 1985-86. It will be Imperial Hint’s first start since he placed third in the Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen on March 30 at Meydan Racecourse.
The 6-year-old horse is a two-time Grade 1 winner. After winning the Vanderbilt last year with jockey Javier Castellano by 3 3/4 lengths, he competed and won in the Vosburgh (G1) at Belmont Park and finished third in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) at Churchill Downs.
Trainer Luis Carvajal, Jr., was contemplating whether to run Imperial Hint in this race or the $100,000 Tale of the Cat on Aug. 9 at the Spa.
“It was a decision that we made with the (owner) Mr. (Raymond) Mamone and myself,” Carvajal said. “The weather in New Jersey [was difficult] with the heatwave, and we had a few days with a lot of rain, and that didn’t help, but he’s training well. We decided to run in the Vanderbilt. The horse was doing great going into last year’s race. He was just coming off winning the Grade 2 (True North at Belmont Park). This year it will be an interesting race. A couple of nice horses like Asmussen’s horse (Mitole), so it will be interesting to see this year.”
Rest of the Field
The rest of the field includes Do Share (post 7, Luis Saez), Diamond Oops (post 6, Julien Leparoux), Strike Power (post 2, John Velazquez), Mr. Crown (post 5, Jose Ortiz), and Firenze Fire (post 4, Irad Ortiz, Jr.).
The Alfred G. Vanderbilt will be race 9 on Saturday’s 12-race card. The card includes the $250,000 Bowling Green (G2) in Race 10, and the $600,000 Jim Dandy (G2) presented by NYRA Bets in Race 11. First post is at 1 pm.