SARATOGA SPRINGS — Some European spending boosted Domestic Spending on Saturday.
Purchased for 300,000 guineas ($412,320 U.S.) at the 2018 Tattersalls October Yearling Sale by owner Seth Klarman, Domestic Spending stayed close to the early pace and was able to hold off Gufo in a blanket finish to win the $500,000 Saratoga Derby Invitational at Saratoga Race Course.
It was just the fourth career start for Domestic Spending, who was a close third to Decorated Invader in the Grade II National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame on July 18.
The 4-5 betting favorite in the Saratoga Derby, Decorated Invader faded to fifth for his first loss in four starts this year, all stakes races.
Jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. used a well-timed move coming off the turn to set up Domestic Spending’s surge to the lead inside the eighth pole, and he used the rest of the stretch to just get to the wire before the John Velazquez-ridden Gufo, who actually had more momentum than Domestic Spending and passed him on the second stride past the wire.
“This horse is really bred to go this distance,” trainer Chad Brown said. “It looked like it was about just enough for him getting near to the wire there. He had a lot of nice horses coming at him. But we felt confident in this distance. I’ll speak to Seth Klarman about what to do next, if we want to stretch him out more, or maybe this’ll be the limit for him. Not sure. We’re just going to enjoy this, and the horse can get a little bit of a rest.”
“We were looking to be a little more forwardly placed,” said Ortiz, who had four winners on the 11-race card. “He broke more sharp than we thought and we were very close to the pace, so I tried to relax my horse and he relaxed very well. I could feel [the pressure] a little bit in the stretch, but he responded really well, so I knew I had horse. He always finishes strong, so I kept riding. We got the jump and he held them until the end.”
“My horse is a come-from-behind horse, and he was a little closer than he normally is because there was no speed, so I was happy where he was,” Velazquez said. “I tried to bide my time, and when I went to tip out he came running and then I hit him right-handed and he ducked in. It stopped his momentum and that cost me the race.”
As perhaps a good omen for Domestic Spending, another son of Kingman owned by Klarman, the 2-year-old Public Sector, won the second race by two lengths.
Brown said Domestic Spending is typical of Klarman’s pursuit of good turf horses in Europe, and a race like the Saratoga Derby, inaugurated by the New York Racing Association last year as part of a Turf Triple Series to showcase 3-year-old colts and fillies on the grass, is the kind of race they target with those horses.
The Saratoga Derby victory won’t do Domestic Spending any good as a breeding prospect, though, since he was gelded last year to quell his rambunctious behavior.
“He was a really quirky horse as a baby,” Brown said. “We had to geld him early on in his career, which we don’t tend to do with well-bred horses like him. But he really wouldn’t train willingly. He was a bad actor, and it helped him a lot.
“With some experience, the horse has really matured. Irad and I talked about it in the paddock, how well-behaved he was today. Even between his last start and today, you can see how much more focused he is in his works. Together, we were confident he would run his best race to date.”
Trainer Christophe Clement said both of his horses, Decorated Invader and Gufo, ran well, but “Decorated Invader was a little bit aggressive in the first part of the race and he probably paid for it a little bit at the end. They went a little quicker than I expected in the first half. Gufo ran a very good race, but the one in front of him ran very well.”
Brown had three winners on the card to one for Todd Pletcher, which puts them into a tie at the top of the trainer standings with 18 wins each.
“We started that first week really strong,” Brown said. “I think we had six wins in four days, then we had a little bit of a rough patch, which can happen in any sport. A few bad trips, horses didn’t fire and you run into a little dry spell. This is a long meet. It’s like playing four rounds of golf in a major. There’s a lot of holes to play, and sometimes the ball goes your way, and sometimes it doesn’t. Today, it did.”
FINAL DERBY POINTS
Pneumatic won the Pegasus at Monmouth Park to move into 11th on the leaderboard for Kentucky Derby qualifying points, the final points race on the schedule.
He had finished fourth to Tiz the Law in the Belmont Stakes and third in the Matt Winn prior to winning the Pegasus.
The New York State Gaming Commission handed down suspensions to two more jockeys for rides at the meet.
Javier Castellano will sit on Aug. 26-28 for careless riding in the first race on July 17.
He finished second on Value Engineering and was disqualified to third for interference in deep stretch.
Tyler Gaffalione’s suspension, for careless riding in the fourth race on July 31, will be in effect from Aug. 28-30.
He was aboard Unholy Alliance, whose victory was allowed to stand after a steward’s inquiry into an incident at the quarter pole.
OLD FRIENDS OPEN HOUSE
Old Friends at Cabin Creek will host an open house and adoption event from 9 a.m.- 1 p.m. next Saturday that will include two equine ambassadors from the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation’s herd.
Visitors will get a chance to learn about the work of aftercare organizations and meet the retirees, including the TRF’s Uptown Joe and Bold Mon.
The Old Friends crew includes Commentator, Zippy Chippy, Like Now and many others.
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