Street Life is ready for the Travers.
He’ll be even more ready if the Mid-Summer Derby falls on a wet weekend.
Trainer and Mechanicville native Chad Brown opted to run Street Life in Friday’s $100,000 Curlin at Saratoga Race Course instead of the traditional Travers prep race, today’s Grade II, $600,000 Jim Dandy. The Curlin went 11⁄8 miles through the mud, but Street Life still was able to close strong and win by 13⁄4 lengths.
“I was optimistic the horse would handle the mud. I’d never raced him in it, but he’s had strong gallops in it,” Brown said. “It seems like he has a little more focus, he’s a little sharper in the mud when I’ve galloped him. So I was holding out hope he’d handle it, and he loved it. So it worked out.”
Jockey Jose Lezcano kept Street Life a couple of lengths behind the rest of the field until the final turn. He fired up around the outside of the leaders as they came to the top of the stretch.
Street Life was the outside horse of a foursome that was shoulder-to-shoulder entering the stretch. The inner-most of those, Love to Run, drifted out a few lanes and brought the others with him. Five Sixteen took the opportunity to run on to the lead along the rail, but Street Life recovered to catch and pass him just before the eighth pole.
The wide turn into the stretch worried Brown for a moment, before he saw his Street Sense colt fire again with an eye on the wire.
“I thought it might take away from his punch, in case somebody else had a late threat,” he said. “But he had so much horse in the turn, it was clear to me at the quarter pole he was the best horse in the race.”
Five Sixteen held on for second, 21⁄4 lengths in front of Ever So Lucky, who was just inside Street Life in the four-pack of horses that swung wide through the final turn.
“When I asked him at the quarter pole to swing out, he gave me a good [run],” Lezcano said. “It doesn’t matter how wide he goes. He likes to be outside more than being inside, I think.”
It was Lezcano’s first win on Street Life. He rode him in his debut to an eighth-place finish at Gulfstream Park in January, then to a third in the Grade II Peter Pan in May and a fourth-place finish in the Belmont.
“Jose rode a good race, kept him a little closer today,” Brown said. “We talked about it, and Jose’s ridden the horse great every time he’s ridden him, it’s just that that horse, if you give him the opportunity to be a little lazy, he’ll take it. We’re getting to figure this horse out, and Jose executed perfectly.”
Even though it wasn’t the Jim Dandy and the company that comes along with the traditional Travers prep race, Brown is ready to throw Street Life back against that top competition in four weeks.
“As long as the horse is OK, he’s feeling well, he’ll be ready for the Travers,” he said. “I hope it pours out that day.”
First-time starter Park City gave Starlight Racing and managing partners Don Lucarelli of Duanesburg and Jack Wolf of Saratoga Springs their first win of the meet, when he ran greenly in the stretch at nearly 7-1, but prevailed by a length in the fourth race.
The win was especially sweet for Wolf, who owned Park City’s sire, Harlan’s Holiday, the beaten favorite in the 2002 Kentucky Derby. He said Park City even looks like his father.
“It’s funny, we haven’t bought all that many Harlan’s Holidays through the years, for whatever reason. I wish we’d bought some more, but these two seem to be good,” Wolf said, referring to another Starlight 2-year-old sired by Harlan’s Holiday, Shanghai Bobby.
Starlight bought Park City for $165,000 at last year’s Fasig-Tipton yearling sale in Saratoga.
Shanghai Bobby is being pointed toward the Saratoga Special.
Starlight is still mystified by Rose Junction’s last-place finish in the Sanford last weekend.
“We got the blood back, it was normal; the horse scoped well,” Wolf said. “He was a little flat in his stall the two days after the race, but I’ve got no explanation. I have no clue. After that, what do you do? I guess if you want an excuse, maybe you can say he didn’t like the track, but what else are you going to say?”
HESSONITE DROPS, WINS
Dropping from graded company into a New York-bred $100,000 stakes, Hessonite closed strongly to win the Irish Linnet for trainer David Donk.
Two of Hessonite’s previous three starts were in Grade III races. She was second in the Dr. James Penny Memorial at Parx on July 3.
In the Irish Linnet, the only race not to be moved off the turf Friday, the 4-year-old Freud filly found room to the outside and rallied through the stretch under Ramon Dominguez to pass Mystic City and Considerate for the win.
Regal Citizen broke down during the gallop-out after Thursday’s seventh race and was euthanized. It was the first racing fatality of the meet.
MONMOUTH LOOKS TO 2014
The Newark Star-Ledger is reporting Monmouth Park will likely be passed over as the Breeders’ Cup decides where to hold the 2013 meet.
Frontrunners are Santa Anita and Churchill Downs.
“We’re definitely pursuing ,” Bob Kulina, president of the track’s operator Darby Development, told the Star-Ledger. “[They] haven’t come to us with an official rejection [for 2013], but they want us to continue to pursue .”
After the Curlin, Stonestreet Stables owner Barbara Banke announced the name of Rachel Alexandra’s first foal. The name for the colt by Curlin was submitted by fans and voted on by fans.
The name is Jess’s Dream, in honor of the late Jess Jackson, who had been the owner of Stonestreet Stables and died last spring at the age of 81.
FAN OF THE DAY
NYRA will renew its Fan of the Day promotion with former jockey Richard Migliore, who is a television analyst for NYRA. Every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, Migliore will randomly select two fans from the crowd for special behind-the-scenes access at Saratoga.
The lucky fans will receive a guided tour of the race course with Migliore, including a visit to the paddock before a race and the opportunity to watch a race from the winner’s circle. After the race, fans will take part in the winner’s circle photo ceremony and receive copies of the photo.
On Aug. 9, New York Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera will attend an exclusive dinner at Siro’s Trattoria at the Lodge at 6:30 p.m. to raise money for the Mariano Rivera Foundation.
Tickets cost $500 per person. To buy tickets, call (516) 355-4514.