Risky Rachel proved anything but, winning the $100,000 Union Avenue with ease.
She made the feature race Monday at Saratoga Race Course look like a breeze, and gave trainer Juan Coronel his first win at the track after a pair of runner-up finishes earlier in the meet.
“I’m very excited, finally, after two seconds here in Saratoga,” Coronel said. “I’m so excited. I couldn’t be more blessed.”
Final Mesa jumped out to the early lead in the state-bred sprint for fillies and mares 3 and older, getting through the first two of six furlongs in 22.75 seconds. Risky Rachel, under jockey Javier Castellano, sat just off her back hip while waiting for the stretch to appear. When it did, she fired around the outside of Final Mesa and was a length clear by the eighth pole, 31⁄2 clear by the wire.
“In the beginning, it’s difficult because a couple of horses have a lot of speed,” Coronel said. “I thought Javier, he knows very well, this filly, too. What am I going to say? He’s a great rider. He did very well.”
“I was looking to be right behind the lead, and it worked out great for me because I didn’t want to dictate the pace,” Castellano said. “I wanted to let someone else. She was able to relax today and make a strong run.”
Willet was inside behind the top two early on, but through the turn, it became apparent she wasn’t going to challenge Risky Rachel. Willet did get up for second, though, under Ramon Dominguez. Paper Plane finished third, then
Final Mesa crossed fourth.
Coronel collected a second-place finish with Risky Rachel here Aug. 1 in the $100,000 Fleet Indian and another second with Crespano, by a nose in an Aug. 5 allowance. He now believes it’s time for Risky Rachel, a home-bred owned by Sanford Bacon, to test deeper waters.
“Open. Whatever is coming,” he said. This filly is such a nice filly, I’ll take a shot.”
AROUND THE ‘BEND’
Jackson Bend continues to work toward a return to training after a mishap at the Oklahoma Training Track on Saturday morning. He was passing the entry gap when Little Nick was spooked and bolted, colliding with Jackson Bend, who was on the ground for a few minutes.
He walked and received a massage Monday morning and will get a trail ride today.
“It helps, mentally, to make sure he gets back in the game before we give him a serious work,” Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito said. “It’s more of a relaxing morning.”
If he can get him back on track, there is still hope of him trying to repeat his 2011 Forego win. The Grade I seven-furlong race is scheduled for Sept. 1.
“Let’s go one day at a time, but you never say never,” Zito said. “The good thing about him is if anyone can do it, it’s him.”
In the stretch of the second race, Pete’s Parley stumbled badly and lost rider Junior Alvarado, who tumbled about four times on the dirt track before coming to rest. The horse had his left front leg splinted and was taken off on the equine ambulance. It was determined he had fractured both sesamoids and had to be euthanized.
Alvarado was strapped to a backboard and carried to an ambulance, then transported to Saratoga Hospital with pain on the right side of his abdomen. He underwent precautionary X-rays, was released and will ride Wednesday.
Jockey Maylan Studart was riding Cap the Moment a few lengths behind Alvarado and was quick to steer her mount around the fallen jockey.
It was the first horse fatality on the dirt track this summer. There were two earlier in turf races.
Julien Leparoux made easy work of the sixth race allowance optional claimer, guiding 7-year-old Jimmy Simms around the 11⁄16 miles of turf on the lead the entire way.
The race featured a $90,000 purse and several horses with stakes experience. The closest Jimmy Simms has come in a stakes was a second-place finish in the Presque Isle Downs Mile, a half-length behind Wise Dan, last September.
He held off Midnite Silver, who has finished in the trifecta each of her last seven races and 11 of her 12 this year, at the end. Voodoo Storm, who ran in the Grade III Poker at Belmont two starts back, closed for third.
In the ninth, a seven-furlong allowance optional claimer on the dirt, Little Drama kicked around Our Edge into the stretch and pulled away for the lion’s share of the $90,000 purse.
Neck ‘n Neck worked five furlongs in 1:00.09 in his final tune-up for the Grade I $1 million Travers.
“He did it well in hand,” trainer Ian Wilkes told the New York Racing Association. “He never extended himself. He just floated around there, finished up down the lane good, galloped out good, pulled up happy, walked off the track happy. I’m happy.”
Five Sixteen also put in a final work, breezing four furlongs in 49.05 for trainer Dominick Schettino.
Joining the list of Travers probables was Speightscity, who has not raced since the Grade III Withers on Feb. 24 at Aqueduct, a second-place finish to Jim Dandy winner Alpha.