Saratoga Diary: Weather holding
by Dick Powell
Day 19 of the 2018 Saratoga race meet began today with the main track listed as fast and the two turf courses listed as good. The weather looks like it will hold the rest of the day.
Mike Luzzi won his first race of the meet in Race 1 when he dueled for the lead aboard TARUCA and put Best Surprise away in the deep stretch at 8-1 odds. The final time of 1:23.01 for the seven furlongs on the main track was fast as it continues to play to horses who get involved with the early pace.
Race 2 was for maiden $40,000 claimers going 1 1/16 miles on the inner turf course. Javier Castellano gave AMAZING AUDREY a heady ride when he tracked the leaders then tipped out for the drive to win going away. The inner turf course tends to drain slower than the Mellon and the inside tends to dry out slower so rallying wide is not a bad thing these days. Castellano picked up the mount for Johnny Velazquez and it was Todd Pletcher’s 12th winner of the meet. Danny Gargan claimed the winner.
Race 3 was a high-class allowance race for fillies and mares going 6 1/2 furlongs. Irad Ortiz Jr. pressed the pace on the outside with YOU KNOW TOO and gamely held on by a half-length over Quick Release. The final time of 1:17.05 was very slow for this class of horse.
Looch Racing’s Ron Paolucci has openly talked about getting out of the racing business but seems to be wavering lately. Eric Cancel put TRUSTWORTHY on the lead going nine furlongs for $25K claimers and never looked back, winning by over four lengths in the good time of 1:50.13. He was claimed by Steve Asmussen and three of the six other runners were also claimed.
If the Kentucky Derby (G1) were a turf sprint, trainer Wesley Ward would have a cabinet full of hardware. Not that he can’t get horses to go long but since his runners break so well, they excel in these type races. TWO SHAKES was a first-time starter from Ward and he took a lot of money as the 2-1 favorite in Race 5. Manny Franco was filling in for Velazquez and held on by a nose over a fast-closing Pakhet. Jose Ortiz, aboard Fierce Scarlett, filed a claim of foul against Padkhet and after the stewards took a look, they took her down from second and placed her fourth. Considering how bad Fierce Scarlett’s trip was, the filly by Scat Daddy ran extremely well but breaking fast from the gate avoided all the traffic problems.
Race 6 was a first-level allowance dirt sprint for New York-breds and the pace fell apart. Joe Bravo sat back on the outside with ZONIC, who rallied extremely wide to win going away. Winless in his first 13 career starts, he broke his maiden by seven lengths last out going a one-turn mile and now that the light bulb has gone off in his head, he came back to win again. Sicilia Mike was a very good second in a tough trip and should be able to handle these next out.
Race 7 was an 11-furlong turf race for fillies and mares and Luis Saez stole the race on the front end. He put LADY JOAN on the lead and despite some give in the ground, gamely held on over Violet Blue. It was the third winner at the meet for Phil Serpe, who is 19-3-2-4.
In Race 8, Kat O Mine and THEATERINTHEROUND both broke slowly and were far back early. Manny Franco looked like he would be the beneficiary on She Doesn’t Mind, who stalked the pace while clear on the Mellon turf course, but Jose Ortiz had Theaterintheround in a drive around the far turn. She picked up horses willingly and, when she engaged the leader, went on by to win the $40K claimer, giving Chad Brown win number 20 at the meet.
The Tale of the Cat Stakes only attracted a field of five, but at the top of the stretch they all had a chance. Mr. Crow had the rail shut off and favored My Boy Tate was battling gamely on the lead in his first start against open company. Ned Allard shipped in ALWAYS SUNSHINE and his win in a stakes race at Delaware Park going six furlongs in good time did not count against him here since the race was not graded. Frankie Pennington drove him through the lane to a sharp win over My Boy Tate, who looked very warm before the race.
Tomorrow, Race 2 is a classic Saratoga maiden special weight event going seven furlongs. It’s a very competitive bunch and I like Todd Pletcher’s #7 BAFFIN BAY. The son of Pioneerof the Nile had a very fast five-furlong breeze on the Oklahoma training track on July 28 and gets Javier Castellano. His dam was a Grade 2 winner on the synthetic track at Hollywood Park and her first foal to race is a stakes winner.