SARATOGA SPRINGS — There’s a statue of the great Native Dancer at the Congress Park junction of Union Avenue and Circular Street a few blocks from Saratoga Race Course.
Voodoo Song brought that statue back to life, in a sense, on Saturday.
Running for the fourth time this meet, the 3-year-old colt also won for the fourth time, equaling a feat that the “Grey Ghost” achieved in 1952, when he went 4-for-4 as a 2-year-old.
In Voodoo Song’s case, his fourth win came in the Grade III Saranac on the Mellon Turf Course during the Woodward undercard. In an era when most thoroughbreds run about once every four weeks, if that, Voodoo Song won four times in a span of 43 days.
“It’s great to be in the same company as Native Dancer,” trainer Linda Rice said. “It’s been a thrill for us. I’ve had a couple win three here now, City Zip and New York’s Finest, but this was just really something.”
Voodoo Song’s other wins at the meet came in a claiming race on July 22, an allowance on July 26 and an allowance optional claiming race on Aug. 23.
Rice said she wanted to run the son of English Channel in an allowance on the Woodward card, but when it looked like it would be oversubscribed, possibly leaving him on the also-eligible list and out of the race, she and owner Barry Schwartz took a swing at the Saranac.
It didn’t hurt that Voodoo Song had already shown an affinity for the Mellon Turf course.
“The reason I’ve run him back so many times is he likes this course, he likes the configuration,” Rice said. “It hasn’t rained much, he likes the firm going and that could change very quickly in the next 30 days or six weeks, so I thought let’s take advantage of it. We can rest him later.”
Voodoo Song came to Rice’s barn after trainer Mike Hushion retired. Jose Lezcano got the mount at that point, and, in characteristic fashion, Voodoo Song got to the front and was able to hold off Yoshida by a neck.
A duel between the top two horses, Separationofpowers and the undefeated Pure Silver, disintegrated in the stretch, and Lady Ivanka was there to pick up the pieces and win the Grade I Spinaway for 2-year-old fillies.
Lady Ivanka held off long shot Maya Malibu by three-quarters of a length to back up an eight-length win in her career debut at Saratoga on Aug. 9.
“She ran a good race, and it set up the way we expected,” trainer Rudy Rodriguez said.
“The post killed her,” trainer Chad Brown said of Separationofpowers, the 3-5 betting favorite who broke from the rail in the five-horse field.
“It was a bad draw, and she got hounded the whole way. She did all the dirty work, and I’m proud of her, but it’s not a good situation to be drawn inside of a real fast horse like Pure Silver and set it up for another horse.”
With a late post time, Harmonize and jockey John Velazquez barely beat sundown, and barely beat the field in the Grade III Glens Falls for fillies and mares on the inner turf.
They just got up to catch Grateful by a neck as Harmonize won for the first time since the Grade I Del Mar Oaks over a year ago.
“I have to say, Johnny Velazquez is tough in a photo,” Harmonize’s trainer Bill Mott said. “He beat me in a photo last week, and then he won a photo for us. When it comes down to the inches, he’s tough.”
Nonna Mela is the 5-2 morning-line favorite for Sunday’s feature, the Grade II Prioress for 3-year-old fillies going six furlongs.
She is coming off a 4 1/2-length victory at seven furlongs on Aug. 7 in what was her first start since a fourth in the Frizette on Oct. 8.
The lightly raced daughter of Arch won the Grade II Adirondack at Saratoga last year.
Among those she’ll face in the Prioress is a filly trying to stay undefeated after three victories, Downtown Mama, who last raced on July 13, an allowance win at Belmont Park.
She had been nominated to the Test, but Rice chose to skip it for this race.
“We’ve been kind of sitting on our hands, waiting for the Prioress and hoping that the two fillies from the Test wouldn’t come back, so hopefully, that’ll work out for us,” Rice said.
“[The pace] was part of the reason I didn’t go to the Test with her. She’s been a little rank in her races and run up close and I was afraid it’d be a recipe for disaster in the Test. I think we’ve given her a little more time going into this race and, here, it’s possible we might be sitting off the pace, we could be on the lead, I’m just going to leave that to Jose Ortiz. He’s having a good meet, I’ll let him figure it out.”
In fact, the only horse out of the 10 who ran in the Test coming back for the Prioress is fifth-place finisher Vertical Oak.
AROUND THE TRACK
Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas celebrated his 82nd birthday by winning the seventh race with Warrior’s Club.
It was his third win of the meet. . . .
The jockey and trainer titles remain tight with two racing days left.
Pletcher won the first two races on the card to tie Chad Brown at 37-37, then Brown won the fifth with Let’s Get Loud to go back up by one. Despite a bevy of horses on the rest of the card, neither won another.
Meet-leading jockey Jose Ortiz was 0-for-11, and his brother Irad’s win on Lady Ivanka in the Spinaway pulled him within 55-52 of the lead.