Somebody stole Al Stall's training board - right out of the tack room. That's why his 18-horse Saratoga roster is scribbled in black pen on a small, paper trainer's chart. The handwriting won't win many prizes, but the horses are there and they'll likely win a few races before Stall returns to his Kentucky base for the fall season. (Editor's note: Originally published in July 31 issue of The Saratoga Special.)
"It's painstaking, especially the young horses," Stall said of trying to decide which horses to bring to the Spa. "The ones that come up here and have a little something happen to them it makes you feel bad because you tell the owners 'yeah, yeah, yeah' and then you're saying 'no, no, no.' We've made good choices and certainly we've made bad choices, too. One thing about it is the ones we bring are ready to run. Nothing's here just to train."
The Saratoga squad includes a mixed bag - from several unraced 2-year-old rookies to Grade 2 stakes winner Paid Up Subscriber and graded stakes-placed 3-year-old Forevamo. Some will cycle back to the barn's other divisions, with replacements filling in behind them, and Stall hopes to get out of town with a few winners. He won two last year, and won Thursday's fourth race with Flash Trading to get on the board for 2016.
Trainer of 2010 champion older male Blame, Stall talked to The Special's Joe Clancy between sets Thursday morning and ran through his (paper) stall list.
Breaking Bread: She had the misfortune of meeting future star Carina Mia in a maiden race last fall at Keeneland. The 3-year-old daughter of Quality Road emerged with an ankle injury and hasn't run since. "She finished second to Carina Mia by a neck, a nose and an eighth of a mile (actually 9 3/4 lengths), but she's nice and is going to make a start here. She's a big, huge thing but she's all right."
Unreal Baby: Stall entered the unraced 2-year-old daughter of Flatter for today, but she made the also-eligible list in the seventh race. Stall put it simply when asked for a description,"She's nice."
Herald Square: Another 2-year-old filly, she's by Hard Spun out of a daughter of 1987 champion 3-year-old filly Sacahuista. "Our 2-year-old fillies are all OK."
Hollywood Critic: The 4-year-old son of Blame is in Monday's sixth race going 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf. The trainer called the Bruce Lunsford homebred the stable's most likely winner at the meet - a few hours before Flash Trading took care of that. "He goes both ways, turf and dirt. Blame stamps his horses, big time - their heads, and this horse even has a wavy tail like Blame had."
Majestic Heir: The 3-year-old Majestic Warrior colt arrived Thursday morning on a van from Kentucky and eyes a maiden start in the next condition book. He was second sprinting on the turf at Ellis Park July 22. "I'm going for the Ellis Park-Saratoga angle, which works. There's something about it. You'd think it would be the opposite - you've got race and return, it's hot, then you've got a long ship here. I don't know why, but the form transfers up here and he ran pretty well last time."
Chairman Mom: The unraced 2-year-old filly, a My Meadowview homebred, is by Shackleford and like most of Stall's juveniles, shows a steady string of half-mile breezes at Churchill Downs and Saratoga. "She's a nice, sporty little filly. Shackleford's had a good start to his freshman season and she seems like one of those that might be good going 5 or 5 1/2 furlongs so maybe a race in the next book or so."
Tom's d'Etat: The 3-year-old Smart Strike colt races for G M B Racing and finished second in a 1 1/4-mile maiden special on the dirt at Churchill Downs May 30. He'll shorten up a little bit at Saratoga and is being pointed to a 1 1/8-mile maiden Aug. 5. "He cost few dollars ($330,000) and he's in very good form."
Roustabout: The 3-year-old Harlan's Holiday colt, a homebred for Columbine Stable, finished fourth in a maiden special going 7 furlongs on the dirt here Friday. "He was fourth at Churchill to Bird Song, who came back and won here the other day. That's good to see. He's out of a Pine Bluff mare, so I think he'll stretch out. Roustabout is an oil-field term (meaning a worker who maintains all things in the oil field)."
Rollover Risk: The 2-year-old First Samurai filly is owned by Klaravich Stable and William Lawrence (hence the stock-market name) and eyes a Saratoga debut. "She's an old-school horse - big, raw-boned filly, big head on her. You wouldn't think she was 2, but there's something to her."
Paid Up Subscriber: The Grade 2 winner finished second to I'm A Chatterbox in the Grade 1 Delaware Handicap (despite a claim of foul by Ricardo Santana Jr. for interference at the gate) July 16. The 4-year-old filly, another for Klaravich/Lawrence, was sound asleep at mid-morning Thursday - resting up for a try at the Grade 1 Personal Ensign Aug. 27.
Forevamo: The 3-year-old colt lives in what might be the biggest stall on the grounds - at the end of the shedrow with a back window overlooking the 7-furlong chute. Stall eyes the Grade 2 West Virginia Derby Aug. 6 with the son of Uncle Mo, who finished second in the Pat Day Mile May 7 and won an allowance race at Churchill Downs June 26. "He still had the non-two condition so we used it at the end of Churchill and he ran a fabulous race, which we think sets him up really well for this. He's in Departing's stall that he came out of to win it (in 2013). We're bullish about his chances."