St. Elias Stable’s undefeated Grade I winner and ‘TDN Rising Star’ Army Mule (Friesan Fire) returned to trainer Todd Pletcher’s barn at Saratoga Thursday morning, where he will train for a fall campaign.
Last seen winning the GI Carter H. Apr. 7 at Aqueduct by a devastating 6 1/2 lengths with a 114 Beyer Speed Figure, the 4-year-old was scheduled to run in the GI Metropolitan H. June 9 at Belmont, but had to be removed from consideration for that spot when he didn’t bounce back from his Carter effort to Pletcher’s satisfaction. The bay, who has raced just three times, was given a few months off in Ocala at Jim Crupi’s New Castle Farm before making the trek back up the East Coast to rejoin Pletcher’s string.
“He just arrived this morning and he looks great,” said Pletcher. “We’ll gallop him here for a while and see what his fitness level looks like and map out a schedule. He’s been back galloping at Crupi’s farm for a little while, so hopefully, we’ll have him back on the worktab in the next couple of weeks.”
Pletcher and Vinnie Viola of St. Elias hope Army Mule’s fall campaign will culminate in the Breeders’ Cup Nov. 3 at Churchill Downs, with both the Dirt Mile and the six-furlong Sprint being weighed as options.
“I need to talk to Mr. Viola a little more about it specifically,” Pletcher said. “We do have the Breeders’ Cup in mind, but we’re not sure which race yet. Ideally, we’ll get one start in between now and the Breeders’ Cup.”
Bought for $825,000 at Fasig-Tipton Midlantic in 2016, Army Mule debuted with an 8 1/2-length victory last April at Aqueduct to earn his ‘Rising Star’ badge and scored a 7 1/2-length optional claiming tally at the Big A in January before his Carter heroics.