SARATOGA SPRINGS — Technically, it was a five-horse field.
But Nonna Madeline and Golden Award left the rest behind early for a duel that lasted for most of the mile and an eighth of the Saratoga Race Course main track, with Nonna Madeline gradually pulled away to win the $85,000 Summer Colony on Wednesday.
The winning margin of a length and a quarter was the most separation between the top two for the whole race, and third-place finisher Bellera was another 7 1/4 lengths back.
“I didn’t anticipate that they would go that fast,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “It sort of turned into a match race up front, and I’m proud of her for digging in and finding more the first time going a mile and an eighth. She was coming out of some faster races, so we anticipated we’d be close.”
Pletcher had given Nonna Madeline a couple cracks at graded stakes company this season, without any success.
Ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr. in the Summer Colony, she was running longer than a mile for only the second time, but the distance appeared to suit her considering the fast early fractions established by Golden Award and jockey Junior Alvarado, with Nonna Madeline right there with her.
“Like I said before the race, you can have a plan, but you’re not sure what everyone else’s plans are,” Pletcher said. “We were in a good position for that filly, and I thought [stablemate] Bellera was sitting an ideal trip and just kind of ran evenly.
“It was a big effort from Nonna Madeline and nice to see her get a stakes win. The more we’ve done with her and having had the opportunity to run her two turns at Oaklawn, I thought there was a decent chance she’d see out the mile and an eighth. To be honest with you, I looked at this one hoping to get that stake win for her. Now that we’ve got that, we can be a little more ambitious.”
“The other horse [Golden Award] was right there in the first turn,” Ortiz said. “She broke sharp, so I just sat second beside her. We were going a little fast but I didn’t have too many options. She was the filly to beat, so I had to stay there. She was very comfortable. She wasn’t going that keen, and on the backside she relaxed a little bit and she was still in the race. She never backed up, so that was great.”
“I thought there was going to be a little more competition at the end, but my horse and the winner took it from the beginning,” Alvarado said. “We were head-to-head the whole way, and I think today the other horse was best. We were just second-best.”
AMERICA’S PASTIME WINS AGAIN
Foxtail won the ninth race on the card, giving America’s Pastime Stables, a group of Capital Region owners with strong ties to baseball, another win at the meet.
They also won on July 23, with Bertranda.
“It doesn’t get old winning anywhere. But this is great,” said Brian Spagnola, the stable’s managing partner who is also the general manager of the Amsterdam Mohawks. “We didn’t know what to expect. We saw the four-horse field and knew we were the only speed. So we thought we might get things our way.
“We love winning anywhere, Aqueduct and Belmont are fun, but this is certainly better. Whether there’s people here or not, there’s a big bullseye at Saratoga.”
The field for Saturday’s Grade I Test, in post-position order, will be: Up in Smoke; Perfect Alibi; Mrs. Danvers; Wicked Whisper; Gamine; Venetian Harbor.
Gamine is coming off an impressive win in the Grade I Acorn at Belmont Park on Belmont Stakes Day June 20.
MUSEUM TRAVERS PREVIEW
The National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame will offer an online Travers preview via Zoom at 1 p.m. Friday.
The preview will be hosted by museum communications director Brien Bouyea and museum historian Michael Veitch.
They co-authored “The Travers: 150 Years of Saratoga’s Greatest Race.”
They’ll analyze the field and will discuss the history of the Travers.
You can register for the preview at https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_mvuck6W1TwKLXh0dc37xaw.