Not being used to running on dirt was not a problem for Notacatbutallama, who snuck along the rail exiting the far turn to win the Grade III $200,000 Hall of Fame at Saratoga Race Course on Friday.
Ridden by John Velazquez for trainer Todd Pletcher and owner Mike Repole, Notacatbutallama had won his last two races, both stakes on the grass.
“My biggest concern was we just feel like he was turning into a top-class turf horse,” Pletcher said. “His last couple races have been very good. You kind of hate to change surfaces with a horse that's on a roll, but he's proven to be versatile enough in the past, so we thought he could handle it. He's a tough little horse.”
He finished three-quarters of a length in front of North Slope. Battier was another 1 1/2 lengths back in third, beating out Charming Kitten by a neck. Battier and Charming Kitten also are trained by Pletcher.