Barry K. Schwartz's Voodoo Song will try to keep his undefeated record at Saratoga Race Course intact on Monday when he breaks from the rail in a field of six in the Grade 2, $250,000 Bernard Baruch Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on the Mellon turf.
Last year, the popular New York-bred English Channel colt won four straight races on the turf in the 6 ½-week Saratoga meet, beginning with an open $40,000 claiming event on opening weekend and culminating with a hard-fought neck victory in the Grade 3 Saranac on the meet's final Saturday.
2018 Bernard Baruch Stakes Odds & Entries
Race 9 on Saratoga's Monday card with a Post Time of 5:02 PM
|1||Voodoo Song||Jose Lezcano
|2||Projected (GB)||Javier Castellano
|3||Forge (GB)||Manuel Franco
|5||Inspector Lynley||Jose Ortiz
|Claude McGaughey III|
|6||Qurbaan||Irad Ortiz, Jr.
Voodoo Song came into this summer with two wins from four starts in 2018, including a one-length victory in the Forbidden Apple on July 14 at Belmont Park, and promptly picked up where he left off.
The 4-year-old chestnut colt stepped up into the Grade 1 ranks with aplomb in the Fourstardave Handicap at a mile on the inner turf on August 11. Voodoo Song outfooted the early speed with his characteristically devil-may-care running style, but kept enough in the tank to hold off a late run from Delta Prince to record the fan favorite's fifth straight win at the Spa.
"We're pretty excited about it," trainer Linda Rice said of the Baruch. "Hopefully, we get through Monday's race unscathed and move on to the Shadwell Turf Mile [October 6 at Keeneland] and then hopefully the Breeders' Cup."
Rice said she's been pleased with Voodoo Song's development since his scintillating sophomore summer, noting that the connections have enjoyed the added benefit this year of picking their spots.
"Last year, he ran four times and won four, but this year we've given him more time between races," she said. "He clearly deserves it and he's performed well that way.
"We were pretty pleased with his maturity from three to four," Rice added. "We got him started early in April just to get a run in him and then we ran him seven furlongs. That was unbelievable; to run in 44 [seconds] and change [for a half-mile]. A horse that runs a mile and three-eighths usually cannot withstand a 44-and-change half and keep going. I was really impressed with him that day...then we ran in the Poker, very tough race, first time behind horses, it was a sneaky good effort [and] then another good effort in the Forbidden Apple. So, I think that we've been pleased with his progression at 4."
Installed as the even-money morning-line favorite, Voodoo Song will be ridden again by Jose Lezcano.
Also entered in the Bernard Baruch - immediately preceding the Grade 1 Hopeful, the final stakes of the 2018 Saratoga meet on Labor Day - are Pin Oak Stable's Synchrony, last-time out winner of the Grade 3 Oceanport at Monmouth Park; Inspector Lynley, fresh off a victory in the Fasig-Tipton Lure on August 11; Shadwell Stable's European arrival Qurbaan, making his U.S. debut for the Kiaran McLaughlin barn; and a pair of Juddmonte Farm homebreds in Projected and Forge for meet-leading trainer Chad Brown and Hall of Famer Bill Mott, respectively.