Palmer gunning for a Saratoga success

Hugo Palmer: runs New Providence in a Grade 2 at Saratoga on Saturday

Hugo Palmer: runs New Providence at Saratoga on Saturday

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (  

HUGO PALMER bids to grab a small part of the limelight at Saratoga on Saturday, when New Providence contests the Ketel One Ballston Spa Stakes, a little more than half an hour after Triple Crown hero American Pharoah goes for a ninth straight win in the Travers Stakes.

Palmer’s first foray to the States was thwarted last year when Aktabantay injured himself at Santa Anita and was unable to take part in the Breeders’ Cup, but he has enjoyed a magical 2015, highlighted by a first Classic success with Covert Love in the Irish Oaks, and is hoping for better luck this time.

Explaining the attraction of the race, which has a purse of $400,000 and is on grass over an extended mile, he said: “It’s a Grade 2, and there isn’t one for her in Europe that’s suitable. She could have continued carrying a Group 3 penalty in Group 3 races, but she has won two already and so it wouldn’t have enhanced her paddock value much with another.

“Alternatively, she could have retired now, but the third option was to have a bit of an adventure with her and take her to America before retiring her. As she’s in good form, sound and well, and ready to race, the owner [Chris Humber] agreed with me it would be a shame to retire her, so she flew out eight days ago.”

Palmer and his team will be among a capacity crowd of around 50,000 at the New York track, with excitement at fever pitch for the next appearance of American Pharoah, who became the first horse since Affirmed in 1978 to win the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont, and who followed up his Triple Crown glory with a stunning win in the Haskell at Monmouth Park.

American Pharoah is a best-priced 2-7 with Coral for the Grade 1 Travers, with the firm trimming Godolphin’s Frosted to 6-1 (from 7) on Thursday.


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