Saratoga Springs

Call Paul gains experience in Saratoga Special

Even with a short field, the trip was eventful, but Call Paul shakes off the competition to win by one length
Call Paul and Irad Ortiz Jr. work their way to the finish line to win the Grade II Saratoga Special.
Call Paul and Irad Ortiz Jr. work their way to the finish line to win the Grade II Saratoga Special.

The goofy kid had his tongue hanging out of the left side of his mouth the whole way.

He absorbed a bump from the inside right out of the starting gate, then took on a bully from his outside just before the eighth pole.

For such a short field — scratches reduced the Grade II Saratoga Special to just four horses — Call Paul had a little bit of an adventure all the way to the wire on Sunday, but got there first to remain undefeated in two starts.

Trainer Jason Servis had been teaching Call Paul how to handle being behind horses in the morning, which wasn’t the case in the Saratoga Special, but the race proved to be a valuable learning experience.

“He’s got a great mind,” Servis said. “He looks the part, too.”

On another day when the rain-softened track fielded a card with multiple scratches and all of the turf races were moved to the main track, six were entered in the Saratoga Special, and only four made it to the starting gate.

Sir Truebadour was scratched in the morning, and Stage Left was a vet scratch in the paddock after he had been saddled.

Ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., Call Paul broke from the No. 2 post and was banged into by Meade during the early strides, but shook that off to take the lead with Spinoff and Tight Ten to his outside down the backstretch.

Spinoff dropped back as they came off the turn, then Tight Ten nudged Call Paul off stride at the three-sixteenths pole, but he continued on his merry tongue-wagging way and won by a length.

“With the scratch, I was thinking ‘One less horse,’ but I’ve been breezing him behind horses and covering him up, and if he got stuck inside and was laying second or third, it’s not a bad thing,” Servis said. “I told Irad, ‘If they get away from you a little bit and you’re down inside, that shouldn’t be a problem.’”

“I just let him be comfortable, let him be him and he responded very well when I asked him,” Ortiz said. “It changed a little bit [with the scratch of Stage Left]. We had to be a little closer than we wanted.”

For further evidence that the inexperienced Call Paul still has a lot to learn on the track, Ortiz had to holler “Yo! Yo! Stop that” at some carpenters who were using a noisy drill on a sign attached to the rail near the winner’s circle, nearly spooking the colt.

Servis won one of Saratoga’s graded stakes for 2-year-olds last year, with Firenze Fire in the Sanford on opening weekend, and he came back to finish fourth in the Hopeful closing weekend.

That probably is too tight on the calendar to bring back Call Paul at this meet, but Servis said he would leave him in Saratoga just in case.

“They look a lot alike,” he said. “This horses acts like he’ll run farther than Firenze Fire. I don’t know. It’s kind of close. I’ll talk to Mr. Dubb [co-owner Michael Dubb]. but I’m not feeling it. Unless he’s jumping over trees and feeling so good.”

Reach Gazette Sportswriter Mike MacAdam at 518-395-3146 or [email protected]. Follow on Twitter @Mike_MacAdam.

Categories: -Sports

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