It isn’t often that a Grade 1 winner trainer by Todd Pletcher gets overlooked in a stakes race. But with defending champion Pirate’s Punch and the talented Ny Traffic heading the field for Saturday’s Grade 3 Salvator Mile at Monmouth Park, that seems to be the case with Basin.
The 4-year-old son of Liam’s Map, who won the Grade 1 Hopeful at Saratoga as a 2-year-old and then was second in the Arkansas Derby last year to Charlatan, will be making just his fourth start for Pletcher.
Fellow Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen had Basin for his first seven career starts.
A $150,000 yearling purchase who has earned $568,260 in 10 lifetime starts, Basin is coming off an eighth-place finish in the Grade 1 Churchill Downs Stakes on May 1 – though he was beaten just 3¾ lengths in that seven-furlong race.
“He wasn’t beaten far at Churchill,” Pletcher said. “The whole field was two or three lengths apart. He got squeezed out late but he was just starting to not hold his spot late. I thought he ran competitively in a pretty deep field.”
In three career starts for Pletcher, Basin, owned by Jackpot Farm, shows a second in the Grade 2 Amsterdam last August at Saratoga and a win in the Sir Shackleton Stakes at Gulfstream Park on March 27.
His best efforts, with the exception of the Arkansas Derby, have come at seven furlongs or less. But Pletcher is confident the two-turn Salvator Mile, which has attracted a field of 10, won’t be an issue.
“We felt like a two-turn, one-mile race suits him well,” Pletcher said. “He trains like the two turns and longer won’t be an issue. I felt like timing-wise this was (a) good (spot) and he’s had good breezes since the Churchill race.”
Pirate’s Punch, who notched a two-length victory in the Salvator Mile last year, has not raced since the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile on Nov. 7. Trainer Grant Forster said the 5-year-old gelding had a chip surgically removed from one of his knees following that race but that he has trained exceptionally well during the time off.
Ny Traffic, second by nose to 2020 Horse of the Year Authentic in last year’s TVG.com Haskell Stakes, turned in an impressive first race back for trainer Saffie Joseph, Jr. as a prep for this race. He won an allowance optional claimer at Belmont Park by 6 ¾ lengths on May 2.
The 74th running of the Salvator Mile, which carries a purse of $150,000, will go as the 10th race on a 13-race card. First race post time is 12:15 p.m.
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