Trainer Jeremiah Englehart absorbed some good-natured trash talk in the paddock from owner Mike Repole before the Grade II Adirondack on Saturday.
Repole accused the burly Englehart of not boxing out the jockeys for rebounds during the annual charity basketball game earlier in the meet: “How many rebounds did you have, one?”
Englehart had the last laugh, as his filly Sue’s Fortune got inside position in front of the Adirondack field and held off Virginia Eloise to win by a half-length under Junior Alvarado.
Trainer Todd Pletcher, who came into the race having won the Adirondack five times in the last 12 years, had to settle for second with Virginia Eloise and third with Repole’s filly Guacamole.
It was especially gratifying for Englehart to win a race like this for one of his long-time clients, owner-breeder Richard Nicolai of Fortune Farm.
“It took me 12 years, but I finally won a stakes race for him,” Englehart said.
For the second Saturday in a row, a New York-bred beat open company in a graded stakes at Saratoga, with Diversify and another New York-bred, Mind Your Biscuits, finishing one-two in the Whitney last weekend.
Sue’s Fortune came into the Adirondack off a front-running victory by 8 1/2 lengths in her career debut at Belmont Park on July 5.
Her second start was shaped much differently. Sue’s Fortune stalked 7-5 betting favorite Lyrical Lady and Mucho Amor, took the lead coming off the turn that grew to three lengths, then needed to be coaxed to the wire inside the sixteenth pole as Virgina Eloise came charging at her late.
Sue’s Fortune HOLDS OFF Virginia Eloise in the Adirondack pic.twitter.com/YHWZA3eyYh
— Mike MacAdam (@Mike_MacAdam) August 11, 2018
“It was Plan B,” Alvarado said. “We tried to go with Plan A, which was hoping she broke like last time. She broke good, but not as sharp as last time. We wanted to put on a little pressure early, though.
By the three-eighths pole, she was pulling me. I saw horses struggling and I saw horses coming near, so I thought I had to take a shot to let my filly go and hope she would hold.”
“For her to settle off the pace this time and close, she wants to run,” Englehart said. “She’s won on the lead, and she’s won off the lead, so hopefully now we can get her to relax even more and finish strong as well.”
Also on the card, Inspector Lynley won the Lure to give jockey Jose Lezcano a sweep of the two turf stakes. He also won the Grade I Fourstardave aboard Voodoo Song.
“Jose rode him goo, being patient,” trainer Shug McGaughey said. “He didn’t hit the panic button when he didn’t break out of there right away and let him get his feet under him, and, thankfully, Plan B worked out.”
The fans and media see Southern Phantom’s all-white face and interesting white highlights on his legs and tail.
But he looks like a green horse to trainer Eric Guillot.
Southern Phantom, one of the most photographed horses on the Saratoga grounds because of his face and eyes, which are two different colors, made his second start of the meet in the second race on Saturday’s card.
The race went better than his debut, as Southern Phantom finished third behind Unionizer. But Guillot said the colt’s inexperience showed itself not only on the turn but at the eighth pole.
One adjustment he might make, at the suggestion of jockey Kendrick Carmouche, is to switch to blinkers that block a little bit more of Southern Phantom’s peripheral vision.
Better this time for Southern Phantom, but still 3rd to Unionizer pic.twitter.com/050RlFUWGU
— Mike MacAdam (@Mike_MacAdam) August 11, 2018
“Y’all know I didn’t win, right?” Guillot joked to the media after the race.
“Kendrick said he was loaded with horse on the backside, and when he asked him on the turn a little bit, he kind of sucked back.
“He told me to maybe put more blinkers on him — I know the public wants less blinkers — but I agree with him, maybe some three-quarter cups and some peepholes. He said he looked like he was done at the eighth pole, and then when he got clear and that horse kind of came over, he shied away. So he’s still green. He’s a green baby, but I think he’s still improving.”
Trainers Todd Pletcher and Steve Asmussen each bring formidable one-two punches to Sunday’s feature, the Grade II Saratoga Special for 2-year-olds.
Asmussen, who has won this race four times since 2003, including last year with Copper Bullet, will saddle 5-2 morning-line favorite Tight Ten and Grade III Bashford Manor winner Sir Truebadour.
In an evenly matched field from top to bottom, Pletcher has Spinoff and Meade, both first-time winners.
“Both horses are training well, and both horses are bred to run longer,” Pletcher said. “We’re looking forward to getting them started again.”
Also on the card, Santa Monica is the 8-5 favorite in the Waya at a mile and a half on the inner turf. The race was canceled due to weather last weekend and rescheduled.
Santa Monica is coming off a win in the Grade II Dance Smartly at Woodbine.
TROY WINNER RETIRED
Sandy’z Slew, winner of the Grade III Troy Handicap last Sunday, has been retired.
He was vanned off the track after the victory and was found to have a suspensory injury.
Reach Gazette Sportswriter Mike MacAdam at 518-395-3146 or [email protected]. Follow on Twitter @Mike_MacAdam.
GAZETTE COVERAGEEnsure access to everything we do, today and every day, check out our subscribe page at DailyGazette.com/Subscribe
More from The Daily Gazette: