Saratoga Race Course

Wudda U Think Now ends long slump for Rodriguez

Jockey Trevor McCarthy high-fives owner Stuart Grant after the Rudy Rodriguez-trained Wudda U Think Now won the John Morrissey at Saratoga on Friday.
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Jockey Trevor McCarthy high-fives owner Stuart Grant after the Rudy Rodriguez-trained Wudda U Think Now won the John Morrissey at Saratoga on Friday.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — An oh-for-44 slump through the first 21 days of a 40-day meet could wear you out.

Spending four months patching and re-patching a persistent quarter crack in a horse’s hoof could wear you out.

So patience was doubly rewarded when the Rudy Rodriguez-trained Wudda U Think Now re-rallied to pass Saint Selby at the sixteenth pole and win the $125,000 John Morrissey sprint stakes for New York-breds at Saratoga Race Course on Friday.

While returning to the form he showed in February, Wudda U Think Now and jockey Trevor McCarthy accounted for Rodriguez’s first win of the meet after a long drought, which didn’t go unnoticed by some of the jockeys who were on other horses.

The popular Rodriguez got fist bumps from Jose Gomez, who was second on Reggae Music Man, and Kendrick Carmouche, who was on Saint Selby, as they left the track after dismounting.

“It’s amazing,” Rodriguez said. “Everybody knows Saratoga is very hard, very difficult to win, and, you know, everybody’s rooting for you, even if you don’t put them on a horse or are competing against you. I’m going to sleep good.”

Wudda U Think Now won the Hollie Hughes at Aqueduct on Feb. 19, but the only start he had made since then was non-threatening fourth in an allowance at Parx in June.

Rodriguez chose to add blinkers for the John Morrissey, but the most important change from the Parx race was that he was finally confident that he had gotten his 5-year-old gelding’s hoof right.

Wudda U Think Now appeared to be poised to pass the front-running Saint Selby as they came off the turn, but Saint Selby kept the upper hand.

Instead of packing it in, Wudda U Think Now stayed with it and got back close to the lead at the eighth pole, finally wearing out Saint Selby and taking the lead at the sixteenth pole.

He won by a length and a half over Wudda U Think Now.

“Saint Selby drew the rail, and he’s very fast,” McCarthy said. “I got a good break. He doesn’t have to be on the lead. Just the times he has been on the lead he’s had super slow, comfortable fractions. Today, we got a great setup, and Rudy had him 100% today.”

“I’m not sure about the blinkers [helping],” Rodriguez said. “I know he’s been breaking a little slow, but I think he was breaking slow because he was dealing with a quarter crack for almost four months right after the stake. I couldn’t get him right — I patched him, took the patch off — all the credit goes to [owner] Stuart Grant. He’s very patient. When owners are patient like that, it makes our life easy.

“And he showed today what he can do.”

Rodriguez’s barn had been so cold that he was struggling just to get a horse to hit the board.

Even after Wudda U Think Now’s win, Rodriguez’s in-the-money percentage was 27%.

“To win a stake here at Saratoga is pretty special,” McCarthy said. “Rudy’s had a little bit of a tough meet, and so have I, so to get this win today was super-important.”

“Since I started training this horse, it takes so long, because he’s a very heavy horse,” Rodriguez said. “Trying to take the weight off, it’s hard. You’ve just got to be patient. And you’ve got to tell the owners to be patient. Some owners get frustrated, and take the horse away from you. But, this game, you’ve got to be patient.

“I’m going to enjoy this one.”

EVAN SHIPMAN

Last seen running in the $1 million Godolphin Mile on the Dubai World Cup undercard in March, Bankit returned to New York-bred company and nosed out a head-bobbing victory over Sea Foam in the one-mile Evan Shipman.

Ridden by Joel Rosario, Bankit won for the first time since May of last year.

“He gutted it out today,” trainer Steve Asmussen said. “I can’t say how proud we are of him. Sea Foam has always run extremely well here at Saratoga, and it was nice to come out on the right end of that.

“I was really worried about it at about the sixteenth pole. He got there, but he just gutted it out in the last part. He’s run some extremely good races and had a million in the bank before he got here today, and it’s just great to have a New York-bred stake here at Saratoga for him. It was a perfect spot and what he needed right now.”

“He got there and then he waited for a little bit and looked like the other horse was a little hard to pass, but he did great,” Rosario said.

UNION AVENUE

Bank On Anna shook off a fifth-place finish earlier in the meet to win the $125,000 Union Avenue sprint stakes for New York-bred fillies and mares 3 and up by 2 3/4 lengths over Snicket.

Unlike the allowance she ran in on July 23, Bank On Anna got out of the gate sharply enough in the Union Avenue to get into stalking position behind Mashnee Girl. Jose Lezcano urged her to pick up the pace coming off the turn, and she won with authority.

“She’s just a solid horse,” trainer Phil Serpe said. “Without making up excuses, she had a rough trip last time out. Broke kind of flat-footed and got squeezed in on the rail and just lost all chance after that. She’s been really training well up to this race, so we’re really happy.”

DAVIS SUSPENDED

Jockey Dylan Davis has been suspended for seven race days by the New York State Gaming Commission for his ride aboard Montatham in the seventh race on Wednesday.

Montatham won the race, but was disqualified to last because he had cut off On Our Way Boyz at the quarter pole, clipping heels with On Our Way Boyz, who fell and unseated jockey Eric Cancel.

Cancel and his horse each got up immediately.

Davis, who was cited for careless riding, will serve the suspension from Aug. 17-25.

Categories: At The Track, Sports, Sports

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