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Saratoga Recap Week 6

John’s Call Recap (8-22-18) - Winner: Focus Group

There was plenty going on in this turf marathon feature. Focus Group ($10.60) went last-to-first to score by a nose for Jose Ortiz/Chad Brown, and this was a rare value-oriented turf winner for this sharp barn. His stablemate Call Provision was the favorite, and he surged to the lead in the stretch, but just failed to last. He drifted out more than once, bothering Patterson Cross, and was placed 4th via disqualification. 37-1 longshot Renown was moved up to 2nd, and an unlucky Patterson Cross was awarded the show. Rocketry was another length back in 5th, and the remaining four entrants were well back.   

Riskaverse Recap (8-23-18) - Winner: Monte Crista

Monte Crista sat a great trip behind overmatched front runner Madame X. When that one folded after six panels, Monte Crista inherited the lead, opened up in the lane, and safely held post time favorite Tapit Today to win by a length and a quarter. Goodthingstaketime rallied to land the show by a nose over Punked. Quaff was next, and was followed by Sweet Sting, Ferdinanda, Madame X, and Going Out (trailed throughout).   

Albany Stakes Recap (8-24-18) - Winner: Sea Foam

Speed is dangerous in nine furlong dirt routes at Saratoga, and solid favorite Sea Foam controlled the pace and won by a bit less than a length. Evaluator rallied from last to land the place in a nice effort, and Singapore Trader stalked and finished an even 3rd. Analyze the Odds was another neck back in 4th, and the distance tripped him up. Longshots Spectacular Kid and Bad Guy were far back.

Funny Cide Stakes Recap (8-24-18) - Winner: Dugout

Dugout and Bankit dueled from the opening bell, and the former prevailed by a nose in an exciting battle between NY-bred juvenile sprinters. Bustin to Be Loved never threatened the top pair in 3rd, and Dalliance was right behind him in 4th. La Fuerza was the big disappointment. He was heavily backed at the windows but never got going and drifted back to last place. He veered out at the start and raced wide.

Seeking the Ante Stakes Recap (8-24-18) - Winner: Party Like Grandma

Early speed was strong all day long on the main track, and in the juvenile fillies stakes division, Party Like Grandma struck the front from the inside post and kept on going in a 1-1/4 length triumph over pace presser Maiden Beauty. She’s Trouble could not make up any ground on the top two while well clear of the rest in 3rd. The pace was quick in this event, but the males were more than a second faster in the Funny Cide (1:16.43 vs. 1:17.59).

Yaddo Stakes Recap (8-24-18) - Winner: La Moneda

La Moneda was seeking a four-bagger in the Yaddo, and she got it. Lady Joan set the pace, and the eventual winner was well back in 4th place under Junior Alvarado. She took up the chase in the stretch and got past the front runner to win by a neck. Lady Joan held the place by a nose over even money favorite Fifty Five. The other five entrants were well back with War Canoe rallying for 4th at 15-1.

Fleet Indian Stakes Recap (8-24-18) - Winner: English Soul

Take Charge Aubrey tried to ride the speed bias to victory in this nine furlong stakes affair for NY-bred 3-year-old fillies. She lead every step of the way except the last jump, and that is where stalker English Soul got nose nose down at the right time. This was a tight finish with Split Time and Indy’s Lady charging late. The top four were separated by a nose, a head, and a neck, and they were 3+ lengths clear of Cause We Are Loyal, 100-1 Our Super Nova, Rachel’s Blue Moon, and Held Accountable. Aunt Babe, Purely Lucky, and Pas de Deuce trailed.

West Point Stakes Recap (8-24-18) - Winner: Kharafa

9-year-old veteran Kharafa went last-to-first to upset overwhelming favorite Offering Plan by a 1/2 length in this turf route affair. Late runners ruled in this one, and Rapt was charging hard in a clear show finish. Morrison stalked and held 4th over Tapitation and Mo Maverick. Fading front runner Black Tide was next, followed by The J Y, Memories of Peter, and King Kreesa.  

Grade I H. Allen Jerkens Memorial Recap (8-25-18) - Winner: Promises Fulfilled

Promises Fulfilled looked like the controlling pace from the inside post in this first stakes race on Travers Day, and he ran true to form. He bounced right to the front under Luis Saez, and this race was over at the break. The strong favorite was never seriously threatened in a 1-1/4 length triumph over his 32-1 stablemate Seven Trumpets (broke slow). Firenze Fire (wide throughout) rallied to finish a solid 3rd, and Engage made a run at the early leader and flattened out to finish 4th. Still Having Fun, Telekinesis (slow start), Gidu, Givemeaminit, and Funny Duck (trailed throughout) completed the order of finish.

Grade I Personal Ensign Recap (8-25-18) - Winner: Abel Tasman

Post position and tactics played a huge role in this one. Abel Tasman stalked the pace from the inside post under Mike Smith, and she made a decisive early bid, took the lead after a 1/2 mile, and survived a stretch battle with Elate to win this nine furlong affair by a neck. Elate’s rider Jose Ortiz lodged an objection against the winner for a bumping incident in the stretch, but there was no change. The runner-up ran a big race from the outside post, and it was more than nine lengths back to show finisher Wow Cat. The top two are very good, and I think that they were the most talented stakes runners to compete on Travers Day. They also put on a show in the 2017 Coaching Club American Oaks, and they could meet again in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Churchill Downs in November.

Grade I Ballerina Recap (8-25-18) - Winner: Marley’s Freedom

Whenever they run a graded sprint stakes race on the East Coast, look for a fleet California sprinter, and even better if they are trained by Bob Baffert. Marley’s Freedom had those angles going for her, and she was sharp, fresh, and ready to roll in this extended sprint for fillies and mares. She stalked outside and pounced on the leaders in the lane to win by 3-1/4 lengths as the betting favorite under Mike Smith. 9-1 stalker Still There emerged from the pack to finish 2nd, and Lewis Bay did all of the pace dirty work and checked in 3rd. Union Strike rallied for 4th in her first start for Steve Asmussen, and was followed by Ivy Bell, Tequilita, fading front runner Finley’sluckycharm, and Cairenn (trailed throughout).

Grade I Forego Recap (8-25-18) - Winner: Whitmore

Chalk this one up to a perfect trip by a talented sprinter, while the favorite had a less than ideal journey. Whitmore saved ground behind a contested pace, and he took advantage of a huge inside opening to score by a length and a half over heavy favorite City of Light. I thought the runner-up ran a big race. He was chasing the pace widest of all from the outside post and was not quite able to overcome his wide trip. He just held the place by a nose over late runner Limousine Liberal. C Z Rocket weakened to 4th, and No Dozing was next, followed by fading front runner Heartwood, Awesome Slew, and fading presser Warrior’s Club.

Grade I Sword Dancer Recap (8-25-18) - Winner: Glorious Empire

Glorious Empire and Channel Maker were in a dead-heat for the win a few weeks ago in the G2 Bowling Green, and that race did not seem strong at the time. However, the US turf marathon runners are a weak lot, and the Bowling Green duo were best again. This time, Glorious Empire controlled the tempo, and Channel Maker chased throughout. They ran 1-2 all the way around, and the winner prevailed by a bit less than two lengths. Spring Quality stalked and ended up an okay 3rd, and Hi Happy had a similar trip in 4th. None of the late runners made a dent, with Highland Sky’s rallying 5th the best they could muster. Defending champ Sadler’s Joy went last to 6th, and Funtastic faded to 7th. Bigger Picture, Seahenge, and Revved Up trailed. The overseas shippers are going to have a field day in this division later this year, especially in the BC Turf.  

Grade I Travers Recap (8-25-18) - Winner: Catholic Boy

Another grade one with a merry-go-round feel to it. Mendelssohn went straight to the lead, and the fractions were slow based on the other six main track races run earlier in the day. Catholic Boy chased him from the outset, and he was the superior runner this day. He took over in the stretch and rolled to a four-length score under Javier Castellano. Mendelssohn held the place by a length over Bravazo, and King Zachary rallied from last to complete the superfecta. Vino Rosso, Trigger Warning, Tenfold, Gronkowski, Good Magic, and Wonder Gadot followed the top four across the line. A few thoughts on the also-rans. Gronkowski broke slow again, and he appeared to be climbing. These overseas transplants with gate problems can be real sucker plays. Good Magic had a bad start as well, and he raced very wide around the first turn and was never able to get anything going in an uncomfortable journey. Wonder Gadot chased the slow fractions and faded to last. I bet her connections wish that they tried to complete the Canadian Triple Crown sweep.

Grade II Ballston Spa Recap (8-25-18)- Winner: Quidura

Yet another paceless stakes race with the two early runners dominating. Quidura went right to the front, and Hawksmoor chased her all the way around the turf course. The winning margin was a length and three-quarters. Hawksmoor easily held the place over Indian Blessing, A Raving Beauty, and Off Limits. Those three were separated by a nose. Proctor’s Ledge chased the pace but failed to quicken and retreated to last. A Raving Beauty was the big disappointment here. She was under a snug hold along the inside under Irad Ortiz Jr., but never looked like she had her mind on running. The slow pace and passive inside ride did not help her cause either.


Smart N Fancy Stakes Recap (8-26-18) - Winner: Chanteline

Girl Knows Best was the speed of the speed, and she rattled off splits of 20.85 and 43.16. One of the stalkers figured to mow her down, and those honors went to Chanteline. The latter sat in 4th under Ricardo Santana Jr., and she confronted the early leader in the lane and went right on by to win by three lengths. Girls Know Best held 2nd by a head over Morticia. Battle Joined was the only late runner to make up any ground, but the best she could manage was 4th.

Better Talk Now Stakes Recap (8-27-18) - Winner: Rose’s Vision

Rose’s Vision ($12.40) was patiently handled in midpack under Jose Ortiz, and she unleashed a strong stretch run to nail stalker Have At It by a neck. Prioritize edged out fellow late runner Combatant for the show, and Westerland was an even 5th. Ceevee set the pace and weakened to 6th, and was followed by Irish Territory, Corot, and Strike Power.

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