For a mile and a quarter, the Glens Falls was a two-horse race.
Then Hit It Rich practiced some addition by subtraction.
The 5-year-old Smart Strike mare subtracted rival Bizzy Caroline from the picture, adding the lion’s share of the $150,000 purse to her earnings.
Hit It Rich had won three of her last six races for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey, and in the losses had never been back farther than 11⁄2 lengths. In Monday’s Grade III at Saratoga Race Course, a mile and three-eighths on the inner turf, she went immediately to the lead and pulled away from most of the field. Only Bizzy Caroline maintained contact, then lost it early in the stretch.
“I’d rather it wasn’t, but it was there,” McGaughey said. “As good a rider as Javier [Castellano] is, if he had thought it was bothering her or something, he’d have let her just go on. But she was good and relaxed, and that’s pretty much the way she is. And I thought the fractions were reasonable, so it wasn’t really a concern.”
“She’s phenomenal,” Castellano said. “In a small field with not a lot of speed in the race, I took advantage by trying to get to the lead and not look back, just forward. She’s a really nice horse and put up good fractions today. I’m very happy with the way she did it.”
Through the first mile, though Bizzy Caroline was always within a half-length of Hit It Rich, the rest of the field was at least five behind the lead pair.
McGaughey said Hit It Rich didn’t necessarily need the lead, but he was glad to take it.
“If she could have the lead, that’s perfect, and if we have a target, that’s fine, too,” McGaughey said. “He said she broke good, was relaxed. They kind of gave him the lead, even though that filly was sitting on her. Going into the first turn, he said, she pricked her ears up. When she came by me the first time, she just galloped along, so that was fine by me.”
Coming off the final turn, Hit It Rich maintained her same pace, kicking through the final furlong in 12.24 seconds after each quarter to finish in 2:12.34.
Bizzy Caroline started to back up in the stretch, but held off Kissable by a neck to secure place honors.
Hit It Rich had been freshened, unraced since her third-place finish to Mystical Star in the Grade II New York at Belmont on June 30.
“I didn’t need to give her any time, but I didn’t like my options,” McGaughey said. “I would have rather run in this race than the Waya. I was afraid if I took a mile and a half, it might take a little of the sting out of her. The Beverly D. was the other option. I didn’t like scale weights going a mile and three-sixteenths, so this was really my only feasible option. I think the freshness really did her good, too. She really trained well, and she ran well today.”
He said he will look at the Grade I $600,000 Flower Bowl at Belmont on Sept. 29 as a possible next start for Hit It Rich, but since she likes Polytrack, too, he will consider the Grade I $500,000 Spinster at Keeneland on Oct. 7.