Magna Light ‘still thinks he won’ Sanford
"He looks good, he looks pretty happy. He still thinks he won," Rodriguez said. "In our mind, the horse won the race, but unfortunately they took us down.
“It's tough. We work very hard to get these horses to the point they are. To take him down like that, it's hard."
The stewards, in a very controversial decision, disqualified Magna Light for interfering with Percolator in the stretch.
Magna Light led the entire way in the Sanford before suddenly taking a sharp right toward the center of the track in the stretch. Magna Light then headed back to the inside when jockey Jose Ortiz tried to correct him.
While Magna Light did weave back and forth in front of Percolator, there was no contact and Percolator wasn’t advancing, so it’s not like it cost him a placing. Nonetheless, the stewards decided it was enough to place Magna Light behind Percolator, who crossed under the wire in the third.
"He's a baby," Rodriguez said of Magna Light. "It was just his second time, at Saratoga – a lot of lights, a lot of cameras. Jose hit him a couple times, maybe he saw something and reacted. He was very professional first time.
“It's a shame. I thought we had the best horse in the race, and he showed he was the best. If Jose didn't hit him, maybe he wins by three or four lengths."
Todd Pletcher, trainer of runner-up Uncle Vinny who was elevated to first following the disqualification, understood what Rodriguez was talking about, having been in that same situation a few times himself.
"I really don't get enjoyment or satisfaction out of those kinds of situations, like you would when they cross the finish line first," Pletcher admitted. "Any of us that have been in the business very long have been on both sides of those, so we know how much it hurts when you're the one disqualified. I feel bad for the connections (of Magna Light); their horse ran a really powerful race and looks like a nice horse."
Uncle Vinny brought a maiden win and a troubled sixth in the Tremont S. on June 5 into the Sanford, while Magna Light was making just his second lifetime start following a 4 1/2-length maiden victory.
"I was very pleased with the way he ran," Pletcher said of Uncle Vinny. "I think he's a colt that's still learning and figuring things out. He made a couple subtle mistakes in the race that maybe cost him crossing the finish line first.
“With every experience, he's improving a bit and getting a little more professional. He's got some talent and he's finishing his races well. Hopefully the longer he goes the stronger he'll get."
Both Magna Light and Uncle Vinny, the elevated winner, exited the race in good order and are looking to have a throw down at the Spa in the Hopeful S. (G1) on September 7. That seven-furlong contest is a possibility for both, according to their respective trainers.
Magna Light (yellow silks) & Uncle Vinny (yellow cap) photo courtesy of NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography