SARATOGA SPRINGS — The long and short of it for Echo Town is that he’s had a long haul running in short races this season.
Having broken his maiden first time out way back in January, he ran for the seventh time in 2020 on Saturday and broke through with a Grade I victory, in the Allen Jerkens at Saratoga Race Course to stamp himself as among the best 3-year-old sprinters in the country.
A son of champion sprinter Speightstown, Echo Town and jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. surged forward from seventh place to win by 3 1/2 lengths over Tap It to Win.
That pushed Echo Town’s record to 4-2-1 from seven starts on the heels of a second-place finish in the Woody Stephens on Belmont Stakes Day to No Parole, who led early, but faded to ninth in the 11-horse Allen Jerkens field.
“I believe he’s an excellent Speightstown,” trainer Steve Asmussen said. “He’s got that fighter quality to him, and when it doesn’t go his way, he has the same attitude and same appetite as when it does go his way. He’s very like-able and gives you that confidence, so it was good for him to put it together when it mattered. He’s run hard all year, he’s run consistent plenty of times and now he’ll be noticed.”
Echo Town hasn’t missed the board in seven starts while racing at five different tracks.
His Allen Jerkens trip started on the inside, and he gradually worked his way outside until he was five paths off the rail in the stretch, where he caught Tap It to Win at the sixteenth pole and lengthened his lead the rest of the way.
“He broke really sharp today, and when the dirt started hitting him in the face, he was jumping a little bit but he was really comfortable,” Santana said. “I took him outside and he gave me a nice kick at the end. He was traveling really well. I knew there was plenty of speed today and I just wanted to sit behind the speed. I’m really happy with the horse.”
It was the hat trick of objection, and Sadler’s Joy wound up in the penalty box.
He finished first in the Grade II Bowling Green, but after a stewards inquiry and objections by both jockey Jose Ortiz on Cross Border and trainer Mike Maker, Sadler’s Joy was disqualified and placed fourth, as Cross Border was elevated to first place.
Ridden by Javier Castellano, Sadler’s Joy angled in during his stretch run and started a chain reaction of interference, the stewards ruled, first affecting Channel Maker directly to his inside and Cross Border in the next path toward the rail.
“When it comes down to a street fight, Cross Border is awfully tough,” Maker said of the New York-bred son of English Channel, who had just won the Lubash at Saratoga 10 days prior.
“You could see I hit the hole when it opened and I saw the [other] horse, but I never came over,” Castellano said. “We were all on the same line, and I think the inside horses were involved a little bit and we all ended up caught in an overreaction. Of course, that put everyone under pressure and they were going to blame the horse on the outside [Sadler’s Joy]. It was a decision for the stewards.”
‘TIZ’S FINAL WORK
It was all systems go for next Saturday’s Travers in the Tiz the Law camp, after he breezed five furlongs in 59.94 on the main track at 5:30 a.m.
Since Tiz the Law got back to more rigorous breezes three weeks ago, he has been a model of consistency, clocking in at 59.63 two weeks ago and 1:00.48 last weekend.
“Just nice and professional, does his job,” exercise rider Heather Smullen said. “There’s always adversity, and if he sees someone, he’ll get strong, he’ll get aggressive. He’s a racehorse. Luckily, there was no one out there today and he did exactly what I told him to. Just strong and consistent. That’s all you want.”
“I thought he would go in a minute, it was perfect, it could not have been better,” trainer Barclay Tagg said.
“A week out. That’s it. You know, it’s kind of boring, in a way,” said Jack Knowlton, operating manager of Sackatoga Stable. “I mean, every time he works … OK, Barclay wants a minute work and it’s 59.99. Last week, he wanted a minute and it’s a minute and three [tenths]. The week before, 59 and change. He just does it, Heather knows what she’s doing on top of him and fortunately he’s an easy horse to deal with. And he gallops out the way you want him to gallop out, and he’s not breathing hard when he gets done. Everything looks like it’s as good as it could be.”