Not even a change of surface could break the growing streak of Notacatbutallama on Friday at Saratoga Race Course.
The Harlan’s Holiday colt owned by Mike Repole won his third straight stakes race, the $200,000 Hall of Fame, dropped to a Grade III from a Grade II because it was removed from the rain-soaked turf to be run on a sloppy track. In his last start, he won the $100,000 Solar Splendor at Belmont, and two starts back he won the Grade III $150,000 Hill Prince at Belmont, both turf routes.
“My biggest concern was we just feel like he was turning into a top-class turf horse,” winning trainer Todd Pletcher said. “His last couple of 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.”
With the day’s races taken off the turf, Rydilluc and Balance the Books scratched out of the race, leaving five horses and just four betting interests — Charming Kitten and Get in Line were a coupled entry for Ken and Sarah Ramsey.
Pletcher had three of the five remaining horses, including third-place Battier and fourth-place Charming Kitten.
Ridden by John Velazquez, Notacatbutallama came on around the far turn of the 1 1⁄8-mile race — which would have been run at 1 1⁄16 on the turf — as Battier and jockey Javier Castellano looked more to the outside. Notacatbutallama found space along the rail to get past North Slope and jockey Luis Saez.
Velazquez spoke afterward of not showing his intention until the last possible moment to keep the forerunners from sealing off the rail.
“Going to the quarter pole, I wasn’t sure he would cut the corner going to the inside,” Velazquez said. “I said, ‘If he sees me, he’s
going to come over. Let me just hide myself behind the horse that was on the lead there, that Luis Saez was riding, and kind of hide myself until past the quarter pole, then drop back to the inside.’ ”
The two scratches, Rydilluc and the Chad Brown-trained Balance the Books, are both under consideration for the Grade III $150,000 Saranac on Sept. 1, though Rydilluc trainer Gary Contessa is also considering the Grade I Secretariat at Arlington Park on Aug. 17.
“I’m only going to run this horse on the turf from now on,” said Brown, a Mechanicville native. “I’m not interested in running on any other surface.”
Balance the Books broke his maiden here last year in the Grade II With Anticipation.
Normandy Invasion, the Brown-trained 3-year-old Tapit colt who was most recently fourth in the Kentucky Derby, will be sidelined for the rest of the 2013 campaign.
Owner Rick Porter posted a statement on the Fox Hill Farms Stable website to announce the decision to concentrate on Normandy Invasion’s 4-year-old year as he recovers from a problem with a front hoof:
“Normandy Invasion has gone to the farm. While he’s been galloping well with the work that was done to his foot, ultimately, we decided that the most important goals for Normandy exist in 2014, and the best thing for him is to let his foot heal and hoof grow so that we can go into next year with a horse that is 100 percent. There really are not any meaningful races for him in 2013, other than the [Breeders’ Cup], and he is far from ready for that with this layoff. We will make a plan for 2014 and work backwards to see when to put him back in training. He is a very talented horse, and we are hoping for some big wins in his 4-year-old year.”
As a juvenile, Normandy Invasion broke his maiden his second time out, then was second in the Grade II Remsen. He began his 3-year-old year with a fifth in the Grade II Risen Star before finishing second in the Grade I Wood Memorial, then fourth in the Kentucky Derby.
So Scott obviously needs more room to run. The 6-year-old gelding by More Than Ready ran fifth in the 11⁄8-mile Evan Shipman here on July 22, but turned back and won a two-mile allowance optional claimer Friday under Castellano.
Trainer David Jacobson also had Ea in the race, who won the same race here last year, though that was over a fast track. Ea, a 9-year-old son of Dynaformer, finished second to So Scott under David Cohen.
The marathon races are a bit of a rarity, so Castellano, who is second in wins so far at the meet with 27, said he has won “not too many.”
Clearly, though, he knows what it takes to win them.
“I think you need to have a horse, no question about it,” he said. “I give the credit to the trainer. He prepared the horse to go that far, is one, and second, you’ve got to have a patient rider to cover up and save you some ground. Hopefully, you have something left and some time for the end of the race.”
Coming back from a second-place finish here in the July 20 running of the Shuvee, Flashy American won the $100,000 Alada.
He fired around the far turn of the 11⁄8 -mile race through the slop, finding room outside of frontrunners Lady Cohiba and Street Secret, winning by daylight as Street Secret edged ahead of the tiring pacesetter, Lady Cohiba.
It was the second win of the day for jockey Joel Rosario, who climbed back ahead of Castellano (second aboard Street Secret) for the lead in the rider standings with 28 wins so far at the meet. Flashy American has won three of his last four starts.
Jockey Calvin Borel, inducted into the Hall of Fame on Friday, will be on hand at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame today from 10-11 a.m. in the lobby, signing autographs for $15 apiece to benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund. His 2013 Hall of Fame poster will be available for signing. The normally $30 posters will be available for $15.
Dennis Gort of Delmar won the “Battle of Saratoga” handicapping challenge Thursday with his last bet of the two-day tournament.
Each contestant had to make 10 selections both days, nine $20 plays and one $40. Gort made his final $20 pick with English Council in the ninth race at Arlington Park, and the horse won to pay $21.20 for a $2 bet. Gort’s final bankroll was $1,376, which topped Paul Shurman ($1,105) of Dix Hills and Henry Damgaard ($1,076) of Charlottesville, Va.
The win earned Gort $100,000 and a berth in the 2014 Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship in January at Treasure Island in Las Vegas. He also earned a $3,250 bonus for leading the field of 207 handicappers after the first day. Shurman won $30,000 and Damgaard took home $20,000.
The New York Racing Association is accepting reservations for a limited number of picnic tables on Travers Day.
There will be 50 tables (10 percent of the tables in the backyard area) made available for advanced reserved seating via online registration. All proceeds from the purchase of tables (costing $100) will benefit the Backstretch Education Fund.
Patrons can register for the right to purchase a reserved picnic table at www.nyra.com. Of the registrants, 50 will be randomly selected from all eligible entries for the option to purchase one of the designated tables, which will be located in a reserved section adjacent to the paddock and Big Red Spring. There is a limit of six people to a table.
Registration closes at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, and selected individuals will be notified by email and will have until 5 p.m. on Friday to exercise the right to purchase a reserved picnic table.
Table price does not include the cost of general admission.