SARATOGA STAKE A VIRGINIA AFFAIR

An early key to this year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G2) could be Friday’s $100,000 With Anticipation Stakes (G3) on Friday at Saratoga Race Course, the first graded stakes race of the year for two-year-olds on grass in the United States. Two colts with Virginia connections are likely to be among the favorites.

The 1 1/16-mile race attracted undefeated Strike the Tiger, who traveled to England this summer for trainer Wesley Ward and won the Windsor Castle Stakes on June 16 at the prestigious Royal Ascot meeting.

Ward, co-owner of the Tiger Ridge gelding as part of a partnership, brought Strike the Tiger back on July 25 at Colonial Downs and the international travel did not appear to faze his talented two-year-old at all, as Strike the Tiger controlled the pace n the 5 1/2-furlong Chenery Stakes and powered to a 3 1/4-length score.

With three wins in as many starts, Strike the Tiger will be trying two turns for the first time in the With Anticipation. He has yet to contest a race longer than 5 1/2 furlongs.

Virginia-bred Two Notch Road (pictured above) won the Continental Mile Stakes as a maiden in his turf debut at odds of 107.20-to-1 on August 15 at Monmouth Park to stamp himself a hopeful for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, a one-mile race slated for November 7 at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita Park meeting. Two Notch Road was bred by

The Partner’s Hero gelding was unplaced in his three previous dirt races at Monmouth but improved dramatically in his first start on turf for trainer Glenn Thompson.

Continental Mile runner-up Mississippi Hippie also will contest the With Anticipation as part of a coupled entry with stablemate Strike the Tiger. The With Anticipation drew an overflow field of 13 that includes one also-eligible entrant and two main-track-only contenders.