Saratoga Race Course

Damon’s Mound gives Lovell first Spa win, in Saratoga Special

Damon’s Mound (2) defeats Gulfport in the Grade II Saratoga Special at Saratoga Race Course on Saturday.
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Damon’s Mound (2) defeats Gulfport in the Grade II Saratoga Special at Saratoga Race Course on Saturday.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Trainer Michelle Lovell picked a good spot for her first starter at Saratoga Race Course.

And it may not have happened at all if her owners hadn’t resisted a wave of purchase offers after Damon’s Mound won his first career start by 12 1/2 lengths six weeks ago.

The offers are sure to continue.

Damon’s Mound and jockey Gabriel Saez picked the right moment to move up on pacesetter Super Chow and won the Grade II Saratoga Special by 3 1/4 lengths over the highly regarded Gulfport on Saturday.

“It’s a Grade II, so it’s my biggest accomplishment with a horse with so much potential,” Lovell said.

As a jockey, Lovell had five mounts at Saratoga in the 1990’s without a win.

She shipped Damon’s Mound to New York from Kentucky knowing the undefeated Gulfport, trained by Steve Asmussen and ridden by Joel Rosario, would be tough to beat, and in fact Gulfport, winner of the Bashford Manor at Churchill Downs last time out, was bet down to 2-5.

Super Chow led all the way heading toward the half-mile pole, with Damon’s Mound stalking just off his outside flank and Gulfport on the inside.

Just before Super Chow hit the half-mile pole, Rosario tried to make a move to the outside, but by then Saez had asked for some acceleration on Damon’s Mound, closing the window of opportunity for Gulfport, who checked up directly behind Super Chow.

By the time Gulfport found clear running room on the outside, Damon’s Mound was well on his way to victory.

“Around the turn, I’m tracking the favorite,” Saez said. “So now he’s moving along on the turn. The one [Super Chow] comes out on Rosario a little bit, and in the same time I’m moving along, so it kind of got a little squished for Joel, a little tight for Joel, but nothing really major, so I was able to go on and that was it. I was very aware of what was going on inside of me.”

“It looked like we had no room in there,” Rosario said. “They both came out at the same time, and I had to check my horse.”

Lovell said there’s a chance Damon’s Mound, bred and owned by Cliff and Michele Love, will run back in the Hopeful on closing weekend, but there are other options, too.

“He’s just awesome, and he proved it and spoke for himself,” Lovell said. “I couldn’t be happier for his owners. They’re breeders, they [didn’t sell him], and they got rewarded for it. I wouldn’t have traded him for any horse. I thought he had an awesome chance, and he showed it.”

“I see a future in this horse, even from the first time I ever got on him I liked him a whole lot, and I even told Michelle the first time I ever got on him, ‘This horse could be something,’ so I’m thankful he stayed in the barn and I get to ride him again,” Saez said.

Categories: At The Track, Sports, Sports

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