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Saratoga Stakes Recap Closing Week

Grade III With Anticipation Recap (8-29-18) - Winner: Opry

This graded juvenile turf route had six scratches, and six went to the gate, with Joyful Heat taking up the running from the inside post under Jose Ortiz. His lead would not last, and he ended up just holding the show. Race favorite Somelikeithotbrown got first run, but Opry made the last run to win by a length and a half under Javier Castellano. Swamp Rat finished an even 4th, and Seanow and Gunslinger trailed.  

P. G. Johnson Stakes Recap (8-30-18) - Winner: Dogtag

Just like the With Anticipation for males, this turf route for juvenile fillies featured multiple scratches (five to be exact). The six pack ran over yielding ground, and the speed backed up. Dogtag sat patiently in 4th under Javier Castellano, and she spurted away when she found an inside opening to score by length. Varenka rallied from the pack to finish a strong 2nd, and she was five lengths clear of Chocolate Kisses. O’Malley, Road Tiger, and Chasing the Kitty trailed. I thought the runner-up ran a decent race for Graham Motion, and she should not be a maiden much longer. She was 3rd in her turf sprint bow at Laurel, and she clearly liked today’s added ground. Her dam has produced five turf winners.  

Lucky Coin Recap (8-31-18) - Winner: Extravagant Kid

This was a 2-horse race from the opening bell. Strong favorite Pocket Change (Irad Ortiz Jr) and overlay Extravagant Kid (Jose Ortiz) battled from the get-go, and the latter prevailed by a 1/2 length and paid $11 to win (he was 3-1 morning line). There was a similar battle for 3rd, and Spring to the Sky got that one by a head over Big Rock. Axtel, Rocket Heat (bumped hard both sides start), and Bold Thunder trailed.

Grade III Saranac Recap (9-1-18) - Winner: Raging Bull

There was no doubt that Raging Bull was the best runner heading into this graded turf route at a mile and an eighth. The only question was the race shape for the late runner. Up the Ante figured to control the pace from the hedge, and he did just that under Javier Castellano. Raging Bull sat much closer than usual, and that was the key to victory today. The latter ran past the front runner by a length and a quarter under Joel Rosario, giving leading trainer Chad Brown yet another turf stakes winner. March to the Arch was exiting a key race at Woodbine, and he ran on nicely for the show at 11-1. Hot Springs, Golden Brown, Sand Dancer, Therapist, surface switcher Free Drop Billy, and a very disappointing Maraud trailed.

Grade I Spinaway Recap (9-1-18) - Winner: Sippican Harbor

The pace figured to be lively in this extended sprint for 2-year-old fillies, and that was definitely the case. Four or five horses were close up through a 1/4 in 22.68 and a 1/2 in 45.97. Sippican Harbor went all the way by 17-lengths in her off the turf maiden win at Saratoga on Aug. 12, but she was nowhere to be seen in the early going today. Actually, she was last after a half-mile, and she uncorked a big late run under Joel Rosario to win going away by a couple of lengths. Restless Rider emerged from midpack to grab 2nd by a neck over late running longshot Cassies Dreamer. 125-1 bomber Bella Ciao completed the superfecta, and Nonna Madeline dueled and finished 5th in an okay effort. Reflect was 6th, and that brings us to beaten favorite Chasing Yesterday. The Bob Baffert trainee shipped across the country for her second career start, and she got bumped a few times, raced wide, made a brief outside move, and flattened out in 7th. She probably deserves another chance. Virginia Eloise was 8th, and fading Catherinethegreat, Baby Nina, and dueling distant trailer Guacamole completed the order of finish.

Grade I Woodward Stakes Recap (9-1-18) - Winner: Yoshida

Accelerate in Southern California is the clear leader of the Handicap Division this year, and when he is not entered, the rest of the division is a mad scramble. Surface switcher Yoshida took full advantage of wide open renewal of the Woodward with a sharp late running 2-length tally over closing race favorite Gunnevera and front runner Leofric. Take nothing away from the winner, but he was in the right place at the right time to take down a below par grade one affair. Rally Cry was up on the pace throughout and finished 4th, and his stablemate Patch was right behind him in 5th. I cannot wait for the latter to show up in a marathon. He lacks quickness but can seemingly run all day. Term of Art, Hence, Tapwrit, Sunny Ridge, Zanotti, Kurilov, Discreet Lover, a highly disappointing Seeking the Soul, and Imperative rounded out the 14-horse field.

Grade II Glens Falls Recap (9-1-18) - Winner: Lady Montdore

It is Chad Brown all the time in these graded turf routes, and this time he had multiple entrants with different running styles. Lady Montdore crawled on the lead and won by 2-1/4 lengths under Manny Franco. Her chalky stablemate Santa Monica chased throughout and was second best. It was almost a Chad Brown trifecta sweep, but his late runner Onthemoonagain did not get enough pace help and missed catching Danceland by a head for the show. The top three stayed that way from start to finish, and the four back markers (Savannah Belle, Summersault, La Manta Gris, Homeland Security) had no shot in this paceless event at eleven furlongs. Onthemoonagain took all of the early wagering action and was the only entrant trying to make headway. She is worth following.   

Grade II Prioress Recap (9-2-18) - Winner: Dream Tree

Two key scratches in this six furlong dirt sprint, including undefeated stalker Dream Pauline, left a field of eight. Mia Mischief was the slight favorite over Dream Tree, and the latter returned in the pink for Bob Baffert. The two favorites hooked up from the outset, and Dream Tree had the outside positional edge. The unbeaten daughter of Uncle Mo kicked away from her pace rival and won by 4+ lengths under Mike Smith. Mia Mischief just held the place over surging Southern California shipper Moonshine Memories. Sower and Cathedral Ruler were next, and there was a big gap back to Purrfect Miss, Classy Act, and Win the War.

Grade II Bernard Baruch Recap (9-3-18) - Winner: Qurbaan

Voodoo Song looked like a slam dunk on paper, but things are usually not that easy in real time. The aforementioned heavy favorite went straight to the lead as expected and was 3-1/2 lengths on top after a half-mile, but his early advantage evaporated quickly, and Projected took up the running in the lane. Forge and Qurbaan joined Projected in a 3-horse battle to the wire, and those three were separated by a nose in a very tight finish. Qurbaan came out on top, with Forge 2nd, and Projected 3rd. Inspector Lynley passed Voodoo Song to grab 4th in the compact field.

Grade I Hopeful Recap (9-3-18) - Winner: Mind Control

I am not sure how far Mind Control wants to go, but seven panels gave him no issues in a game dueling front running victory over strong favorite Mucho in this grade one affair on closing day at the Spa. The runner-up was slowly getting to the winner, but came up a bit less than a length short. The top two were 2+ lengths clear of pace player Nitrous. The no passing sign was on full display in this event, as the top four finishers basically held positions throughout. Sombeyay was 4th, and Dream Maker passed a couple of horses to get 5th. The latter raced wide and erratically.  Thatwouldbegrand was a baker’s dozen in front of Backtohisroots and fading trailer Derby Date.

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