Which is better, going 4-for-4 at the Saratoga Race Course meet in some lower-level races, or going 1-for-1, but doing it in a Grade I?
Nobody connected to Voodoo Song has to make that choice.
All of the above.
The 4-year-old chestnut colt and jockey Jose Lezcano got to the lead in the Grade I Fourstardave on Saturday and never gave it up, hitting the wire a neck ahead of Delta Prince.
Voodoo Song was one of the more intriguing stories of the 2017 Saratoga meet, racing four times in 43 days and winning all four, something that hadn’t been accomplished since the 2-year-old Native Dancer in 1952.
The Fourstardave gave Barry and Sheryl Schwartz their first Spa Grade I win, which was doubly special to them because they also bred Voodoo Song at their Stonewall Farm in New York.
It also was a popular victory among the fans, who seemed well aware of Voodoo Song’s undefeated record at Saratoga: 5-for-5 now. And he did it in a race named after a fan favorite who had a 9-3-1 record in 21 career starts at the Spa and won at least one race in eight straight years.
“Who better to win the Fourstardave than a horse who’s a Saratoga star?” trainer Linda Rice said. “I think he got a lot of fans last year with winning so many races here at Saratoga, so it’s so exciting to come back and do something … what do you do next? He wins the Fourstardave, a Grade I … just fantastic.”
Larry Collmus: “Voodoo Song returns to his favorite winner’s circle”
He’s 5-for-5 at the Spa (all with Jose Lezcano in the saddle) pic.twitter.com/NJ7YSLEnEt
— Mike MacAdam (@Mike_MacAdam) August 11, 2018
Fourstardave ran at least three times at four of his Spa meets, but Rice was having a hard time getting Voodoo Song into just one this season, after he ran in a claiming race, two allowances and the Grade III Saranac last year.
At issue was the seemingly non-stop rain that has bedeviled turf racing.
Rice’s horse did not fare well in bog-like conditions at Hawthorne in Chicago last year, so she was leery of sending Voodoo Song out again in such conditions.
On an inner turf course that absorbed showers all day and was downgraded from “firm” to “good” shortly after first post, Voodoo Song got to the lead out of the gate and put some cushion between himself and another proven front-runner, Heart to Heart, by the time they got down the backstretch.
The lead gradually got shorter, and Voodoo Song had all he could handle keeping Delta Prince and Javier Castellano at bay, but dug in and made it to the wire first.
“I felt confident all the way around,” Lezcano said. “Let him do whatever he wants to do.I waited on the inside closer to the rail, and when I saw the No. 2 [Delta Prince], I came outside a little bit, so he could see him, and he re-broke again. He kept going and wouldn’t let him pass.”
“My horse never gave up, but that horse never came back to me,” Castellano said.
“When they came to him at the eighth pole, I didn’t know how he’d handle that,” Rice said. “In the past last year, he really fought off the competition. I was really thrilled him in the stretch. He really dug in. He wouldn’t be denied.”
That’s how it goes with this horse at Saratoga.
Of his eight career victories from 16 career starts, five have come at the Spa.
As track announcer Larry Collmus said, “Voodoo Song returns to his favorite winner’s circle …”
Reach Gazette Sportswriter Mike MacAdam at 518-395-3146 or [email protected]. Follow on Twitter @Mike_MacAdam.
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