The only one moving faster than trainer Tom Morley on Wednesday was his mare Haveyougoneaway.
She delivered to Morley his first graded-stakes win in the Grade II Honorable Miss at Saratoga Race Course, after which Morley was compelled to hustle down to the winner’s circle from the box seats.
That’s where his wife, New York Racing Association TV paddock analyst Maggie Wolfendale, was bouncing around in celebration; she’s 5 1⁄2 months pregnant with their first child.
“She seems to get way more excited than I do,” Morley said. “I was watching it up there with Justin Casse, and I looked down below me and thought she might be about to have the baby. I thought, ‘I better get down there quickly.’ ”
Haveyougoneaway, a 5-year-old New York-bred, was making her third start for Morley after being transferred from the barn of Allen Milligan by the owners, Sequel Racing.
She competed in two stakes restricted to state-breds, winning the Dancing Renee at Belmont park on July 3 before Morley decided to make the leap upward to open graded stakes. After her win in the Honorable Miss, suddenly another leap to the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint could be a viable goal.
“Today was a massive target for this filly,” Morley said. “There’s no reason she can’t stay in training as a 6-year-old. The Ballerina has to be a consideration. But there’s the Bed o’ Roses at Belmont. Off the back of today’s performance, you have to consider the Breeders’ Cup.”
The Honorable Miss was also the first win of the meet for jockey Kendrick Carmouche, who has ridden Haveyougoneaway in both of her last two starts, and won both times.
Haveyougoneaway, whose preferred running style is to come from off the pace, broke more sharply than she usually does, so Carmouche dialed her back and stalked behind four horses, while also eventually angling her away from the rail.
She dug in once they hit the stretch and gradually cut into the lead of 7-5 favorite Paulassilverlining, catching her in the final 40 yards to win by a neck.
“Right past the eighth pole, I grinded a little and she really came home,” Carmouche said.
“She actually broke like a rocket today,” Morley said. “I expected her to be a little further behind than she was, but Kendrick did the right thing, he took back off the pace, he watched where the favorite went.
“I told him, all meet this track has been playing where you’ve got to be in the middle of the track. The rail’s not the place to be. And fair play to the filly, she really gutted it out all the way to the line. Hell of a thrill.”
There was plenty to celebrate afterwards, between the mare’s big win, Carmouche’s first win of the meet and Morley’s first graded stakes.
The trainer was even interviewed on live TV by his wife in the winner’s circle.
“Congratulations to Thomas Morley and the family,” Carmouche said. “With his newborn baby that Maggie’s going to have, it’s just a wonderful day. It’s my first win at Saratoga this year, and ain’t no better way to get it than in a 200,000 [-dollar stakes].”
“This helps the baby fund,” Morley said.
The New York Racing Association was in full scramble mode after the fourth race when the starting gate, being pulled by a tractor, smashed into the outside rail just past the wire while the horses were running on the backstretch.
The collision wiped out about 10 posts and a 30-foot section of the tubular rail at a spot where photographers typically set up to shoot the finish of dirt races. One photographer with a scraped arm was sent to first aid for a tetanus shot, but otherwise there were no injuries.
The grounds crew took a piece of the temporary rail from the turf course and spliced it into the rail on the main track, finishing up in time for the start of the fifth race, which was delayed 10 minutes.
Witnesses said the tractor pulling the starting gate sputtered twice when the driver tried to start it, then the gate fishtailed into the rail as the tractor made its turn.
AROUND THE TRACK
Stradivari, a Travers hopeful for trainer Todd Pletcher who suffered a career-ending injury last week, had surgery on his broken leg on Tuesday and is recuperating at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Saratoga Springs. . . .
Trainer Nick Zito won the second race with Fear That, his first win at Saratoga in two years.
The Hall of Famer was 0-for-39 last year. . . .
Jockey Julien Leparoux also got his first win of the meet, in the third race on Conscience.