Saratoga Notebook - August 13

Profile Picture: John Mucciolo

August 13th, 2015

A fine rendition of the Whitney took the spotlight during the third week of racing at Saratoga Race Course.

Whitney H. (G1): Phipps’ homebred HONOR CODE (A.P. Indy) moved into second in the lane and caught the clear leader (Liam’s Map [Unbridled’s Song]) before the wire in securing a neck decision for conditioner Shug McGaughey. The stellar four-year-old erased concerns surrounding his effectiveness at two turns, stopping the teletimer in 1:47 4/5 for 1 1/8 miles on the fast main strip.

Test S. (G1): Stonestreet Stables’ CAVORTING (Bernardini) rated along the rail to the top of the lane, moved into the clear in early stretch and flew home late to win by a convincing 2 ½-length margin beneath Irad Ortiz Jr. Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, the sophomore miss clocked seven panels on the main surface in 1:22 4/5, posting her first Grade 1 in spectacular fashion.

Hall of Fame S. (G2): Klaravich Stables and Lawrence’s TAKEOVER TARGET (Harlan’s Holiday) moved to the fore in late stretch and finished a half-length clear under the line with Irad Ortiz Jr in the silks. The three-year-old colt finished off 1 1/16 miles over the firm turf in 1:42 for trainer Chad Brown.

Track Stats

A total of 61 races were held at the Saratoga Springs, New York venue, with favorites winning at a 33 percent rate and the top two betting choices combining for 57 percent of the wins during the week. From 28 races on the main oval, seven animals won in wire-to-wire fashion (25 percent), while six of the 33 races on the lawn were taken all the way on the front (18 percent).

All six of the wire jobs on the lawn came in route form, with five on the inner turf and one on the outer. That is not out of the ordinary by any means, with the inner playing more favorably for pace horses.

The main oval was a bit kinder to speed Sunday and Monday, and of the seven who led at each call on the dirt, five came in sprints and the other pair in two-turn events.

Meet Totals












52 (32 percent)



40 (24 percent)



16 (19 percent)



21 (27 percent)



Wednesday (8/5)

7TH – EXCUSE MY FRENCH (Line of David) broke slow from the rail but got right up front soon thereafter, and the Chad Brown trainee looked good wiring this field at first asking. The three-year-old miss was never in serious doubt in the dash and could be a nice one with steady improvement.

8TH – CRISOLLES (Le Havre) put in a nice rally late, getting up for second in a productive first run on U.S. soil for conditioner Christophe Clement. The four-year-old had to face a nice winner and could be a stakes type here in the very near future.

Thursday (8/6)

6TH –After moving to the fore in early stretch, MESSI (New Approach) drew away to a smart two-length decision under John Velazquez. The Graham Motion trainee has won two in succession in the U.S. and surely will get a stakes chance next time.

9TH – READY FOR RYE (City Zip) is proving to be a fine turf performer after acing this test and inching clear in the lane. The Tom Albertrani trainee defeated what we thought was a talented and deep cast and is a rising star in this division.

Friday (8/7)

4TH – Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin unveiled a fine prospect in WATERSHED (Bernardini) as the first-time starter rolled home after a slow start in a most convincing maiden tally. The sophomore colt is br3ed to be a real nice one and might be just that with more seasoning.

5TH – Euro import ZVARKHOVA (Makfi) made a big move to open up a lead in early stretch and kept all rivals at bay in a sharp U.S. debut for trainer Chad Brown. The three-year-old filly got her final quarter-mile in :23 1/5 and appeared to have a lot left under the line.

Saturday (8/8)

6TH – We liked TAKAJO (Congrats) in this race and the John Terranova trainee delivered, closing stoutly to win at a nice price. The five-year-old gelding has been much improved since taking the blinkers off three back and owns a big turn of foot when on his game.

7TH – RECEPTA (Speightstown) waited patiently entering the lane and then exploded once clear, posting a fine going-away tally for conditioner Jimmy Toner. The four-year-old filly has come back a better animal in 2015 and appears to be evolving into a real nice one.

9TH – LIAM’S MAP ran about as well as one can in defeat for trainer Todd Pletcher, spurting clear in the lane after being on a fast pace and holding on so well to the wire. This is one nice horse.

Sunday (8/9)

2ND – THRILLED (Uncle Mo) rated behind a very slow pace but still put in a big late run to get up in a fine debut score. The Pletcher trainee got her final five-sixteenths in a superb :27 3/5 and should be stakes-bound next time.

6TH – CONSTELLATION (Bellamy Road) looked the like the real deal with a sensational debut tally for trainer Steve Asmussen. The $800,000 purchase could be worth the investment if she moves forward off this dominating run.

J LA TACHE (Harlan’s Holiday) took a lot of late money and we thought she ran a big one when leading early and staying on late after being put away by the winner. The Graham Motion pupil figures to get better and develop into a nice one.

A Look Ahead

Four graded stakes will headline the action this week at The Spa. Friday will play host to the $300,000 Lake Placid S. (G2) for sophomore fillies on the turf. Two graded runs will take place on Saturday – the $500,000 Fourstardave H. (G2) and the $200,000 Adirondack S. (G2), while Sunday’s topper is the $200,000 Saratoga Special (G2).