From an inside post in a 14-horse field, Todd Pletcher’s trainee avoided traffic and found another gear in the stretch to win the King’s Bishop on Saturday.
No, it wasn’t Forty Tales.
The favorite came off wins in the Woody Stephens and the Amsterdam, but had a slow start from post position 2 and no energy early. Meanwhile, 28-1 Capo Bastone found space to avoid traffic while remaining in striking distance, then put the pedal down in the stretch to win the Grade I $500,000 seven-furlong race at Saratoga Race Course by two lengths over Mentor Cane.
“I had a good trip on the outside all the way,” winning jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. said. “When I asked him, he picked it up and he did the job. He was ready today. The trainer put me on the right horse. The horse was great, that’s all I can say. I just waited to the three-eighths pole like the trainer told me. I just followed the instructions.”
After Let Em Shine led the field through the first quarter-mile in 22.34, Mentor Cane took command through a half in 44.60 and three-quarter miles in 1:09.33.
Capo Bastone was in 11th through the first quarter, 10th through the half, then Ortiz asked him for more. By the early stretch, he was second and just a length off Mentor Cane, having maneuvered off the rail during the turn for a stretch run wide of the leader. He found another gear and ran off to win by two lengths.
Pletcher has known what the Street Boss colt was capable of, and a recent breeze with Travers favorite Verrazano put to rest any question that Capo Bastone was ready for a big step up.
“I was fired up to see him at the eighth pole,” Pletcher said. “I said, ‘Oh, we’ve got a chance,’ you know? And it’s not surprising to us, based on the strength of his breeze with Verrazano on Sunday.
“That was the deciding factor, when you breeze like that. Aaron Wellman [president of Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, who own Capo Bastone] and I talked about it and decided it was the right timing.”
The timing was sorely wrong for Forty Tales, or at least his timing once he broke from the gate seemed off. Still, though he had no early speed, jockey Julien Leparoux was able to steer him past nine horses after being 13th after four furlongs, finishing fourth and just missing third by a neck.
“He got in a little traffic, but when he got in the clear, he really came running,” Leparoux said. “No more dirt in his face. Around the turn, I asked him to run, he took a little time to get going, but he ran big.”
“He just took a little while to get on track,” Pletcher said. “Julien said, finally, in the last eighth of a mile, he started to kick in. It just took a little while to get his legs under him, kind of find a seam, and he was just a little bit flat.”
Pletcher also saddled Overanalyze for the race, cutting him back from classic distances to the a sprint, a format at which he excelled briefly before being stretched out for a 3-year-old Triple Crown campaign.
Overanalyze was hard to spot most of the race, sitting 10th in the upper stretch before a late kick got him up for fifth under Javier Castellano.
Mentor Cane finished 31⁄4 lengths ahead of third-place Central Banker for trainer John Shirreffs and jockey Edgar Prado.
“He came out of there running,” Prado said. “There were horses outside of me, and I thought I was going to sit right off of it. I think I was in a pretty good spot all the way. He took command around the turn very easily. He fought hard, but the other horse came from the outside. I thought [in] the last eighth of a mile that I won the race.”
Capo Bastone returned $58.50, $25.80 and $12.40. Mentor Cane paid $10.80 and $8, while Central Banker paid $14.20 to show.
Central Banker was running for the second time this year. After running in the Delta Downs Jackpot on Nov. 17, he was off until he won the Quick Call here on July 25.
“This was a really good race for him, especially since this was the second race off a really long layoff,” trainer Al Stall said. “I thought he really ran well under these conditions. It has been a speed-biased track all day long. Sometimes, when that happens, the jocks go out there in 44 and change. We thought there would be a good chance that the speed would come back, and it did a little bit.”