Most trainers check the weather forecast for the possibility of rain, which can affect track condition. Bill Mott was more interested in what the temperature would be on Saturday.
After “wilting” in the extreme heat of Suburban day, To Honor and Serve ($9.30) enjoyed the very pleasant conditions of Woodward day as he held off a stretch bid from favorite Mucho Macho Man to win the Woodward by a neck. Cease rallied from well off the pace to finish third.
Under John Velazquez, To Honor and Serve comfortably sat third off leaders Rule and Trickmeister, moved to Rule in earnest at the quarter-pole, took over in upper stretch and despite drifting out five or six paths, held off a
determined bid from Mucho
Macho Man to win.
The runner-up didn’t break well, and certainly not nearly as sharply as he did in the Suburban. He was forced to race in behind rivals for much of the trip, and while that did cost him some, when Mike Smith steered him out from behind To Honor and Serve and Rule in upper stretch, he had every chance to get by the winner.
With the 10 furlongs of the Breeders’ Cup Classic somewhat questionable for To Honor and Serve, the Dirt Mile may be the spot Mott eventually points him to.
Clear and 78 degrees at first post. Fast and firm. The portable rails were up — and will likely remain up for the rest of the meet — on the turf courses, nine feet on the inner and 12 feet on the Mellon. Despite racing against the hedges for a limited number of days, track superintendent Glen Kozak said that the best ground to run over is where the rails are currently placed.
This one likely cemented the training title for Todd Pletcher as Channel Lady ($24.40) rallied to upset the opener. Despite racing a bit wide around the first turn and racing outside thereafter, Channel Lady kicked strongly off the final turn, collared longtime leader Scenario Analysis — trained by Chad Brown — in midstretch and went on to a two-length score over Off Limits. Scenario Analysis held third. Glamour N Glory was fanned widest around the final turn before finishing fourth, while Composition lacked room for much of the stretch run. Pletcher led Brown by 32 to 27 beginning the card, and Brown is running out of ammunition.
Second win at the meet for Sam’s Buck ($22.00), bred and owned by Schenectady physician Dr. Gerardus Jameson. Benefitting from a quick early pace, Sam’s Buck saved ground until the final turn, eased off the fence, then kept grinding down the center of the course to outfinish Ambit and Chilton by a head. This is the first multiple-win Spa meet for Jameson, who campaigned Buck Mountain, the dam of Sam’s Buck.
This officially clinched the training title for Pletcher as firster
Micromanage ($13.60) outran choices Apex (5-2) and Gulfport (6-5) to give Pletcher his 22nd
2-year-old winner at the meet and his ninth Saratoga training title.
Dominus ($5.70), making his first career start on turf, controlled the pace throughout en route to a handy 11⁄4-length score over favored Data Link in the Grade II Bernard Baruch. Dominus is bred top and bottom for grass, being by Smart Strike and out of Cuando, who won $232,000 on turf. Dominus’ siblings captured 12 of 35 starts on turf, so it was no surprise he handled the surface so well. Of course, it’s
extremely beneficial to be the lone speed, so before we anoint him the next Lure, let’s see him take some pressure. But make no mistake, this is a very good racehorse. Good try by Data Link, who was compromised by the lack of early pace. When he finds a race with a legitimate amount of early speed, he’ll be fine. The Breeders’ Cup Mile may be the year-end goal for both Dominus and Data Link.
Kiaran McLaughlin may not have won as many races at this meet as he had hoped, but the ones he’s won have been high-profile. McLaughlin added to his Grade I resume when Emcee ($5.10) easily captured the Forego. With the morning scratch of Shackleford, Emcee was pounded to favoritism and didn’t disappoint. He comfortably stalked the early pace of Pacific Ocean, watched as Jersey Town made the lead along the fence turning for home, then strode away through the stretch to score by an easy 41⁄2 lengths. Hamazing Destiny — at 17-1 — got second in the last couple of jumps over Jersey Town. Jackson Bend, the defending champion and the 5-2 second choice, finished last of seven. He was involved in a serious training accident a couple of
weeks ago, which couldn’t have done him any good. Running time was a rapid 1:21 flat. McLaughlin trains Emcee for Godolphin, and they have teamed up to win the Travers and Jim Dandy with Alpha and the Alabama and the Coaching Club American Oaks with Questing.
Teen Pauline, cross-entered in today’s Spinaway here and Monmouth’s Sorority, will run at Saratoga. According to trainer Steve Asmussen, owner Barbara Banke wants to run her track record holder in the Grade I Spinaway. Teen Pauline is half of an entry with Dreaming of Julia, who is trained by Pletcher. According to Pletcher, as of late Saturday afternoon, no
decision had been made as to whether Dreaming of Julia will run against her stablemate.
Starlight Racing will be running two colts in Monday’s Hopeful.
According to Jack Wolf, who along with Schenectady’s Don Lucarelli are the co-managing partners in Starlight, both Lawn Man and Shanghai Bobby will contest the Hopeful.
Lawn Man was cross-entered in Monmouth’s Sapling Stakes — where he would likely have been a shorter price — but Wolf and
Lucarelli decided Saturday morning to keep him here.
Lawn Man broke his maiden in his debut here in last, while Shanghai Bobby was forced to miss the Saratoga Special earlier in the meet when he incurred a very brief illness.
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