Saratoga Diary: Sunny Sunday
by DICK POWELL
Bad weather left town and the main track was finally listed as fast. The Mellon turf course, which drains faster, was listed as good and the inner turf course started out as yielding. The main track was heavily sealed before the races.
Race 1 looked like a four-horse contest with the top betting choices within $1.15 of each other. Ricardo Santana Jr. continued his winning ways but this time for someone other than trainer Steve Asmussen. He gunned LOU’S CHARDONNAY to the front and opened up over six lengths at the wire as the narrow third choice. Ken McPeek was the beneficiary of Santana’s ability to gun out of the starting gate.
The second race was $35,000 claimers that have never won more than three races and Irad Ortiz Jr. had FAST TRACK KATHRYN pretty far back but the pace was decent enough and she pulled away to win by 3 1/2 lengths over two other deep closers. A look at the chart of the race shows the pace collapsed.
Race 3 was a turf sprint for starter allowance fillies and mares but only six went to the post. Junior Alvarado had GLOSSY far back early and won going away as the 3/2 favorite. As it has happened many times, trainer Bill Mott won a race at Saratoga on his birthday.
Race 4 was a maiden special weight event for 2yo fillies and the public believed in LOVE MY HONEY’s series of fast workouts for her career debut. She was sent off as the 17/10 favorite and got a perfect trip behind dueling leaders. Irad Ortiz Jr. had the strong filly in the lane and even with swishing her tail every time he hit her with the whip, she won by 1 1/4 lengths over Into the South. The exacta came back $36.80 and Todd Pletcher’s first-time starter Always Shopping did not have enough speed to get over and save ground. At least she’s bred to go a lot longer than this.
Bill Mott continued his winning ways with a sharp win with 13/1 LENGTH, who rallied from just off the pace in a turf sprint against maiden fillies and mares. For some reason, she was late leaving the paddock and went right to the starting gate but it didn’t matter as Joel Rosario timed his move perfectly.
Race 6 was an absolutely inscrutable first-level allowance race going 1 1/16 miles on the inner turf course. On paper, it looked like Strike could go to the front and there was a host of closers that would need a trip. Well, Strike, at 33/1, went to the front and held on to the deep stretch. Graham Motion’s other starter, Strike Me Down, was bet down to 22/10 favoritism and he joined the fray but clear on the outside was PRIORITIZE who mowed them all down at 13/1. The Motion trainees finished in a dead heat for place. The final time on an inner turf course upgraded to Good was 1:45.52 seconds. Lots of pace and traffic trips behind the top three finishers.
Race 7 had six older horses going seven furlongs on the main track and after a strong and contested fast pace, longest price on the board UNO MAS MODELO came from behind to win going away for Eric Cancel who was winning his first race of the meet. Since trainer Tony Quartarolo added blinkers three starts back, he has two wins going seven furlongs in 1:21 and change.
Johnny Velazquez looked like he had the clear speed in race 8 – a turf sprint for second-level allowance foes. From post 10, he cruised to the lead with ROCKET HEAT, opened up a big lead, and won in hand. Second in stakes races his last two starts, he was claimed from Carlos Martin for $62,500 by Michael Tennuzzo.
In the Shuvee Stakes (G3), Frost Wise was scratched going to the gate and left a field of six going 1 1/8 miles on the main track. Chilean super mare Wow Cat was the 4/5 favorite going to the gate. With one of the main speed horses out of the race, Channing Hill sent FARRELL to the front and held off the closers in the deep stretch for his father-in-law Wayne Catalano. Wow Cat was a very game and wide second and there were no claims of fouls or steward’s inquiry into the stretch run which saw the winner drift out into Wow Cat who took out Ivy Bell.
The second week of racing culminates tomorrow and in race 7, I like #9 LADY SUEBEE. She won her turf debut going six furlongs at Belmont Park then came back and showed good speed before being outkicked in a one-mile stakes race. Now, she turns back to a turf sprint here for Chad Brown and Manny Franco. Her 5/1 morning line looks good to me.