Saratoga Race Course

Dolce Zel noses out stablemate to give Brown sixth Lake George win

Dolce Zel (5) noses out Eminent Victor (6) to win the Grade III Lake George at Saratoga on Friday.

Dolce Zel (5) noses out Eminent Victor (6) to win the Grade III Lake George at Saratoga on Friday.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Anyone who hangs around Saratoga Race Course probably knows by now that trainer Chad Brown is from Mechanicville.

As reported in the Saratoga Special, he even ran into his former first-grade teacher at the track last Saturday, when Brown’s horses filled out the superfecta in the Grade I Diana by finishing 1-2-3-4.

So it’s not unusual for him to come across old friends looking for tips when he makes his way through the grounds. On Friday, the pressing question was which of his two fillies in the Grade III Lake George was better, and his answer proved prophetic: “It’s close.”

So close, in fact, that Brown’s two horses, Dolce Zel and Eminent Victor, nearly dead-heated for the win in the Lake George, which would’ve added another remarkable feat for his barn on the heels of the Diana domination.

Dolce Zel and jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr., squirted through a tiny gap on the hedge at the eighth pole and held off Eminent Victor (Flavien Prat) by a tiny nose margin to give Brown his sixth Lake George victory in the last eight years.

“Plenty of people asked me all day walking around the track, ‘Who do you like in this race, between ‘em?’ … you know, the local friends around here, and I think I told them all the truth: ‘It’s close.’ And it proved to almost be a dead heat,” Brown said.

“In these situations, unfortunately there has to be a loser, because both horses ran so good. I’ll get it one day, a dead heat here at Saratoga. You get two wins for that. But both horses ran terrific.”

The top two finishers are each co-owned by Michael Dubb.

Sol Kumin’s Madaket Stables got to celebrate in the winner’s circle as a partner in Dolce Zel; Dubb’s partner in Eminent Victor, The Elkstone Group, had to settle for second place. Barely.

“All I needed was a dead heat. We missed it by that much,” Dubb said, holding his index finger and thumb an inch apart.

“Because I love my partners, I love them all. And that’s fun and the beauty of what I do, the relationships and friendships you make. It’s a great position to be in.”

Eminent Victor ran what on another day would’ve been a winning race, but Brown said Dolce Zel, despite getting pinched from both sides coming out of the starting gate, had just enough of a better trip than her stablemate to prevail at the wire.

“Although Dolce Zel had trouble, she had a ground-saving trip and reserved so much energy that when they reached for the wire, she had just a little bit more there,” he said. “Eminent Victor stumbled at the start, and then had a wide run around the final turn, and it might’ve just took a little fuel out of her, that last 70 yards where she couldn’t really accelerate past everybody. That was the difference.”

“She’s tiny, and that helps a little because there was not much room,” Ortiz said. “But that was the only choice [to stay inside], so I went for it. She got through, and after she got through she put her head down and fought with the other one. It worked out good.”

Brown said both horses could run back in the Lake Placid later in the meet.

As Brown talked to the media, a grinning Dubb came up behind him and held up all five fingers on one hand and his other index finger to signify Brown’s six Lake George victories, which was inches away from being seven, if the dead heat had happened.

“It means I’m going to go to Lake George on Tuesday. And we’re going to hang out there,” Brown said.

“It’s a good race. Early on in the meet, with this division of 3-year-old turf fillies, we’ve been so lucky to have so many of them through the years. It’s really one of the turf races that we point to, and we have the horses and the staff to get them ready, and the jockeys both did their very best today.”


Last seen finishing fourth to Essential Quality in the 2021 Travers, Keepmeinmind made his first start for trainer Todd Pletcher a winning one in the seventh race, an allowance 

Previously trained by Robertino Diodoro, the son of Laoban ran in seven graded stakes last year, including the Kentucky Derby (seventh) and Preakness (fourth).

He lost to eventual 3-year-old male champion Essential Quality three times, in the Blue Grass at Keeneland and the Jim Dandy and Travers at Saratoga.

A left foot abscess a few days before the Pennsylvania Derby in late September knocked him out of that race, and he didn’t make it back to the racetrack again until Friday at Saratoga.

Sent off at 4-5 in the betting despite the long layoff, Keepmeinmind and jockey Joel Rosario came from off the pace to win by 2 3-4 lengths.

“Anytime you haven’t run for 11 months and you’re going a mile and an eighth, you’re always hoping you’ve done enough with him to have him ready,” Pletcher said. “He indicated to us in his breeze the other day that he was ready as can be.

“He had a little traffic to contend with today, but once he got in the clear, he finished up well and galloped out really well.”

Keepmeinmind breezed five furlongs in 1:00.15 on the Saratoga main track last Saturday.

As a 2-year-old in 2020, Keepmeinmind finished third to Essential Quality by two lengths in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, then closed out his season with a win in the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs.

He was transferred to Pletcher’s Palm Beach Downs barn in March and began breezing soon after.

Having cleared Friday’s allowance condition, Pletcher will look to get Keepmeinmind back into graded stakes company. The Jockey Club Gold Cup on closing weekend could be an option.

“Yeah, he certainly trains like a horse and has run some races that indicate he’s good enough to win a big one,” Pletcher said.


Another day, another flawless breeze for Life Is Good.

In preparation for the Aug. 6 Whitney, he worked five furlongs in 1:02.05 on the main track under exercise rider Amelia Green.

New York Racing Association clockers had Life Is Good in :38 for three-eighths of a mile, 1:14.80 on the three-quarters gallop-out and 1:40.80 for a mile.

“It’s what we’ve come to expect from him every breeze,” Pletcher said. “It looks like he’s going effortlessly, keeps going on the gallop out. She had to reach up and grab him at the half-mile pole galloping out just to get him pulled up. He’s a super mover, efficient and on cruise control.”

Categories: At The Track, Sports

Leave a Reply