Stellar performances, turf speed potent in final week at the Spa

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September 9th, 2015


A big week of stakes action headlined the closing week at Saratoga.

Woodward S. (G1): Viola Racing Stable’s LIAM’S MAP (Unbridled’s Song) went to the lead soon after the break and never gave his foes a chance on the way to a commanding 4 ¾-length triumph for conditioner Todd Pletcher. The ultra-talented four-year-old colt stopped the teletimer in 1:47 2/5 for nine panels on the fast main oval beneath Javier Castellano.

Spinaway S. (G1): Stonestreet Stables’ homebred RACHEL’S VALENTINA (Bernardini) approached the leader nearing midstretch and took the lead late en route to a one-length tally under John Velazquez. The unbeaten Pletcher charge sped seven-eighths in 1:23.

Hopeful S. (G1): Reddam Racing’s homebred RALIS (Square Eddie) moved to the fore in early stretch and poured it on late en route to a superb 5 ¾-length tally under Javier Castellano. Trained by Doug O’Neill, the California invader stopped the timer in 1:22 1/5 for seven panels on the dirt.

Prioress S. (G2): Stonestreet Stables’ CAVORTING (Bernardini) swept to the front in early stretch and drove home a three-length winner beneath Irad Ortiz Jr. The Kiaran McLaughlin trainee finished off six panels in 1:09 2/5.

Bernard Baruch H. (G2): Stuart Janney III’s IRONICUS (Distorted Humor) was last after the opening half-mile but put in a fine closing run to take this one going away for trainer Shug McGaughey. The four-year-old colt was 1 1/4- lengths clear under the wire and completed 1 1/16 miles on the green in a new course record 1:38 2/5 beneath Javier Castellano.

With Anticipation S. (G2): Alto Racing’s AZAR (Scat Daddy) tracked the pace, moved closer in midstretch and finished best en route to a three-parts of a length tally under John Velazquez. Trained by Todd Pletcher, the two-year-old colt got 1 1/16 miles on turf in 1:41 3/5. 

Saranac S. (G3): Live Oak’s homebred WORLD APPROVAL (Northern Afleet) was last early, gained momentum approaching the turn for home and got up late to register a head decision for trainer Mark Casse. The gelded three-year-old finished off nine furlongs on the firm turf in a swift 1:45 2/5 with Joel Rosario in the silks.

Glens Falls S. (G3): Ballis and Lewis’ WHITE ROSE (Tapit) edged to the lead in early stretch and stayed on gamely late in posting a three-parts of a length victory with Shaun Bridgmohan in the irons. The five-year-old Bill Mott trainee got 1 3/8 miles on the lawn in 2:11 2/5.

Track Stats

A total of 64 races were held at the Saratoga Springs, New York venue, with favorites winning at a 31 percent rate and the top two betting choices combining for 42 percent of the wins during the week. From 27 races on the main oval, nine animals won in wire-to-wire fashion (33 percent), while 14 of the 37 races on the lawn were taken all the way on the front (38 percent).

Turf speed was potent during closing week. Both ovals played well to front runners and also produced some super-fast times, which could be a product of being very firm this past week. Of the 14 leading at every call on the lawn, nine were going long on the inner turf, with the other five coming on the outer in one-turn events.

We liked how the main oval played, as all sorts come home well, with forwardly placed runners having a slight edge, perhaps.

Meet Totals












123 (30%)

2ND Choices:


93 (22%)

Turf Wire:


45 (21%)



54 (27%)



Wednesday (9/2)

7TH – MELODIC (Tale of the Cat) didn’t run especially fast and we’re not sure what she defeated in this one, but the juvenile filly was super sharp in our view, wearing down a clear one late in the lane. The Leah Gyarmati pupil could evolve into a nice one and have a stakes race in her near future.

Thursday (9/3)

6TH – LIGHT THE NIGHT (Street Cry) didn’t have a lot of early speed but showed a nice turn of foot while wide in the lane in what we thought was a productive debut showing for trainer Mike Trombetta. Tab the two-year-old colt to graduate before long with any type of improvement.

8TH – CLEARLY NOW (Horse Greeley) surely appreciate the class relief after facing graded foes for some time now, rolling home a fine allowance winner over a solid group under Jose Ortiz. The Brian Lynch-trained five-year-old should get confidence from this run and be a big-time player next out.

Friday (9/4)

1ST – Conditioner John Terranova doesn’t win first out too often, so when ROOTFORMEJUSTIN (Harlan’s Holiday) rolled home a daylight winner in this turf debut, we took notice for sure. The three-year-old gelding is easily one who could also improve next time with a run under his belt.

7TH – CHAMPIONOFTHENILE (Pioneerof the Nile) showed big improvement in this spot for Linda Rice, rushing to the lead from the rail and never looking back in a fine tally, coming home in a swift time as well. This colt might evolve into a nice one if this is any indication.

MIND YOUR BISCUITS (Posse) had no chance with a super sharp winner in this dash, but the Roderick Rodriguez pupil was tons second best and is in pretty good form from a few lifetime runs. The juvenile colt figures to be graduating soon.

Saturday (9/5)

2ND – Conditioner Barclay Tagg had a fine meeting here at Saratoga and one of his better prospects could be HIGHLAND SKY (Sky Mesa), who was much the best in a smart debut run. The Kentucky-bred rolled home in overcoming a tricky rail post and will be stakes bound soon.

4TH – PIRELLONE (Gio Ponti) tracked the leader, took the lead in early stretch and was just run down in the final strides in what was a very good debut performance. The two-year-old Ralph Nicks trainee was more than five lengths clear of third and shouldn’t be a maiden for long.

6TH – TALE OF LIFE (Deep Impact) was taken down for interference in the lane but it did not diminish the effort in his U.S. debut for trainer Graham Motion. The three-year-old colt came home real fast in a race with a sharp final time, and he could have a big second half of the season in the states.

9TH – One couldn’t script it much better with Rachel’s Valentina, who is now a Grade 1 winner and unbeaten from a pair of career runs. The juvenile lass showed improved early foot in this spot and the sky could be the limit for the well-bred filly.

TAP TO IT (Tapit) has put in two outstanding runs at this meeting to begin her career for trainer Ralph Nicks, and she’s another filly who could be a star in the making.

Sunday (9/6)

6TH – INHERITANCE (Tapit) made a good run at the clear leader in ultimately finishing second at a tricky distance for a first-time starter. The Steve Asmussen pupil will likely improve second out and be super tough if placed with this type.

9TH – FULL TAP (Tapit) did not receive a great ride in this turf dash and we thought she was best in the field. The Christophe Clement trainee improved early from her latest offering and likely will be tough with this kind in her subsequent outing.

10TH – CAVORTING has run two monstrous races at this meeting to bag a pair of graded wins and looks to be one of  the top one-turn fillies in training for sure, as we previously mentioned. 

A Look Ahead

The racing moves to Belmont Park on Friday.