Mongolian Saturday, Pure Sensation prevail in BC Turf Sprint preps

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October 8th, 2016

After going unplaced in four starts collectively in Hong Kong and England since December, Mongolian Saturday appreciated a return to the familiar at Keeneland on Saturday by taking the $150,000 Woodford (G3) on the same course and distance over which he upset the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1) last October.

Negating the potential liability of post 11 with an alert break, Mongolian Saturday raced in close attendance from a three-wide position as longshots Bucchero and Shogood dueled through the opening three furlongs. Comfortably getting by those two in upper stretch and opening up two lengths with a furlong to go, Mongolian Saturday saw his lead whittled to a half-length at the end as Hogy attempted and failed to make up more than 11 lengths from near the rear of the field. Finishing third in a dead heat were Front Pocket Money and Galton.

Owned by Mongolian Racing, trained by Enebish Ganbat, and ridden by Carlos Montalvo, Mongolian Saturday finished up 5 1/2 furlongs on firm ground in 1:03.46 and paid $10.80 as the lukewarm 4-1 favorite.

A six-year-old by Any Given Saturday, Mongolian Saturday upset last year's Turf Sprint by a neck over Lady Shipman at odds of 15-1. He was subsequently out of the money in the Hong Kong Sprint (G1) and Chairman's Sprint Prize (G1) at Sha Tin, the King's Stand (G1) at Royal Ascot, and the July Cup (G1) at Newmarket.

"He loves Keeneland. Lexington is his home town," Ganbat said. "This summer, we were in England and a doctor found (he had) a big ulcer. It took two months (for the horse to fully recover) but it seems everything is all right. We're going to take him to the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita."

Pure Sensation made it a sweep of Belmont Park's major six-furlong turf sprints this year by taking the inaugural $150,000 Belmont Turf Sprint. Unlike in June, when he led gate-to-wire to win in course-record time in the Jaipur (G3), Pure Sensation had to rally from slightly off the pace in the Turf Sprint and only narrowly edged long-time leader Power Alert by half a head.

Racing close to the inside in third as Power Alert sped off to the lead through splits of :21.86 and :44.49, Pure Sensation switched lanes turning for home, took aim at Power Alert, and only in the final yards was able to wear down his Australian-bred foe. The final time was 1:07.10 over the firm Widener turf.

Bred in Florida by owner Patricia Generazio, trained by Christophe Clement, and ridden by Kendrick Carmouche, Pure Sensation paid $6.30 as the 2-1 favorite in a field of nine.

"It was a fun race," Clement said. "I was surprised not to be on the lead but he rode a great race, never panicked. He just sat there near the pace. Mike Smith is always dangerous on the lead so I was worried about him because he never goes too fast. Watching the race I thought, 'OK, we're having a great trip, saving ground.' And the funny thing about that horse is that he is very good and he just keeps overcoming me."

Power Alert, showing early zip for the first time since February, just failed in a sharp effort at 10-1. It was three parts of a length back to Green Mask in third.

Pure Sensation, who has reportedly battled soundness issues during his career, has now won three straight. Following the Jaipur on June 11, the gray five-year-old by Zensational captured the Parx Dash (G3) by 2 1/4 lengths over Power Alert. That offset a fifth to that rival in the February 6 Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint.

(Wendy Wooley/EquiSport Photos)