Saratoga Diary: Woodward Day
by Dick Powell
Race 1 was a seven-furlong maiden special weight for two-year-olds and George Weaver’s Fed Fever took all the money as the son of Fed Biz was bet down to 2-1 favoritism. Winning Factor led to the stretch before Hubba Bubba engaged him. Lion Dance and SIGNALMAN joined the fray and David Cohen got Signalman’s nose down on the wire to win a three-horse photo. It was Cohen’s 14th at the meet (he had three yesterday) and all have come on the dirt.
Irad Ortiz Jr. sent DOWSE’S BEACH to the front in Race 2, a turf sprint for $25,000 claimers, and he never looked back. Royal Asset chased gamely and was able to hang on for second. It was the Saratoga horse for the course’s fourth win here. And, he was not claimed so expect to see him back at this level next out.
Race 3 was a maiden special weight dirt sprint for older horses going 6 1/2 furlongs. Kendrick Carmouche gunned Brasstown to the front and but they weakened in the stretch while Chad Brown’s Business Cycle was right in it at 9-10. But here came CONSENSUS THINKING at 21-1 to win it by three lengths. Amazingly, the winner was claimed by Rudy Rodriguez from none other than Chad Brown. The three-year-old son of Mineshaft covered the distance in 1:15.60.
Race 4 was a one-mile inner turf race for second-level optional claimers. Six of the eight starters went off at single-digit odds and they settled on the speedy Attribute as the 22-10 favorite. The race was marred by an incident about five strides away from the gate when Hembree came in and Night Prowler came out. In the middle was Team Colors who was squeezed and clipped heels. David Cohen came off and luckily was able to roll over under the rail of the inner turf course.
Luis Saez had HOLIDAY STONE up near the pace and was able to open a clear lead while bracing for the final challenge of Night Prowler. He held on by a head and was claimed for $62,500 by Dermot Magner.
Race 5 was a nine-furlong first-level allowance event for older horses and Nick Zito’s Lenstar gunned to the front and held on a long time. A third quarter in :23.83 softened him up and Javier Castellano took over with WEATHER WIZ. It was the sixth win of the meet and five of them came going two turns on the dirt. His final time was a healthy 1:49.34. Wooderson was a game second after being allowed to steal his maiden win last out in a soft pace.
Race 6 was a maiden special weight for juveniles going 1 1/16 miles on the Mellon turf course. SPIRIT ANIMAL was the lukewarm favorite for Chad Brown/Javier Castellano and he took over in the lane to win going away in 1:42.92 on the course still rated as good. It was Chad Brown’s record-breaking 41st win of the Saratoga meet. Longshot Hubba Bubba held on gamely for second.
Race 7 was a 6 1/2-furlong dirt sprint for second-level optional $62,500 claimers. I thought Kendrick Carmouche could steal it aboard the speedy Phi Beta Express but Javier Castellano and UNO MAS MODELO ran him down in the deep stretch. The two sprinters that both went off at 335-100 returned $47.20 for the exacta. 46-1 longshot Cake Pop was claimed for $62,500 by Looch Racing and Anthony Quartarolo.
Race 8 was the perfect example of watching enough races and seeing everything happen. In the third-level optional $80,000 claimer going a mile on the inner turf course, three horses battled to the wire in a real slugfest.
Final Frontier was on the inside with Jose Lezcano and he came out in the deep stretch. Strike Me Down was on the outside and came in some at the same time. In between was HIZEEM and he took the worst of it. There were objections and a stewards’ inquiry. After a long review, the stewards moved the third-place finisher up to first as they took down the top two horses. Only noses separated them at the wire and it was ruled that both horses caused enough damage to Hizeem to warrant taking them both down and placing him first.
It was another winner on the card for Chad Brown and fourth win in a row for Javier Castellano.
Race 9 was the Saranac Stakes (G3) going 1 1/8 miles on the Mellon turf course for three-year-olds. Up the Ante tried to steal it on the front end and got away with soft fractions. But not even Javier Castellano could hold off the late rally of RAGING BULL, who raced a bit closer to the pace than he did last out. It was win number three on the day for Chad Brown.
Race 10 was the Spinaway Stakes (G1). The early pace fell apart for the seven-furlong dirt sprint for juvenile fillies and American Pharoah’s half-sister, by no less than Tapit, Chasing Yesterday was the favorite for Bob Baffert and Mike Smith. We saw that combo dominate last week’s Grade 1 stakes company but this was a very different track than what she saw at Del Mar. You see the riders come back covered with mud all over their faces and Chasing Yesterday wound up eating a ton of dirt. The race essentially fell apart in the deep stretch and here came SIPPICAN HARBOR, who flew home to win it going away at 16-1 for Gary Contessa and Joel Rosario.
Race 11 was the Woodward Stakes (G1) and it attracted a huge field of 14 older horses going 1 1/8 miles. If you are going to have a horse that wants to come from way back, Joel Rosario is your man. After just winning the Spinaway from far back, he was aboard overbet YOSHIDA. Last year, Rosario guided first-time dirt starter Good Samaritan to an upset win in the Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) over respective Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness Stakes (G1) winners Always Dreaming and Cloud Computing. In today’s Woodward, there were horses all over the track and here came Rosario aboard the first-time dirt starter Yoshida to win it going away for his third straight stakes win. Not sure what kind of future Yoshida he has on dirt against the better older horses but he easily held off Gunnevera, who was a bit rank in the paddock.
For Sunday, Race 4 has some extremely well-bred fillies but I like FANCY THAT (#6). She is by Street Sense out of a dam who was a Grade 2 winner at two and even beat Rachel Alexandra. Kiaran McLaughlin wins 14 percent with his debut runners and she draws well going seven furlongs with Joe Bravo.