It was so close that trainer Shug McGaughey thought he had won, then wasn’t so sure upon watching the replay.
Credit a nifty ride by Rosie Napravnik to get Tricky Hat to the wire by maybe an inch ahead of Holiday Star after a mile and five-eighths in the $100,000 John’s Call on the turf at Saratoga Race Course on Wednesday.
Napravnik said she wanted to avoid traffic by moving off the rail heading toward the final turn, but Edgar Prado had her blocked on the outside on Holiday Star.
So Napravnik bided her time and spurted through on the inside as they straightened in the stretch and barely held off Holiday Star on the outside.
“I said, ‘I’m just going to have to sit here and wait and hope something opens up,’ ” Napravnik said. “The horse is small, so luckily, we got through. I wasn’t really sure whether or not we won the photo, but he’s a really talented horse.”
“I thought Rosie gave him a great ride,” McGaughey said. “When he came around the turn she just said, ‘The heck with it, we gotta go.’ ”
The Chilean-bred Tricky Hat rebounded from an awful loss in the Grade II Monmouth Stakes on June 8 in which he was last of 14.
Winning Cause, a close fourth to Main Sequence in the Grade I United Nations on July 6, went off as the 4-5 favorite and stalked Bohemian Dance through the early stages before those two dropped back in the stretch and let Tricky Hat, Holiday Star and Manchurian High take over.
Manchurian High, ridden by Forest Boyce, stayed in the game all the way to the finish, but couldn’t hold off Tricky Hat to his inside and Holiday Star on the outside in a three-way photo finish.
Napravnik was relieved to get the 7-2 Tricky Hat, who went off as the slight second choice over Holiday Star, to the wire on time.
“Sometimes, you’ve just got to trick him into winning,” she said. “He’s a little bit difficult. It’s definitely a mind game with him a little bit.
“I sit on him with a ton of confidence, but the last part of the finish, you have to really make sure you get him on the right timing. I don’t think we could have gotten the timing any closer today.”
The 2-year-old colt Jess’s Dream, the first foal out of Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra, got his first workout on a real racetrack on Monday when he took an easy gallop for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.
Sired by another Horse of the Year — Curlin — and named after the late owner, Jess Jackson of Stonestreet Stables, Jess’s Dream does not have a breeze scheduled yet, McLaughlin said. He just shipped up from the Stonestreet Training Center in Ocala, Fla. on Sunday.
“We’ll just see how it unfolds,” McLaughlin said. “He’s feeling good, which is a good sign. He moved great out on the racetrack. We’re honored to have the horse.”
Jess’s Dream was feeling so good that he leaped in the air while being walked by assistant trainer Trish McLaughlin before heading out onto the track.
AROUND THE TRACK
Micromanage, second by a neck to Norumbega in the Grade II Brooklyn two starts back, is 4-5 on the morning line for the $100,000 Birdstone at a mile and three-quarters on the main track today.
In his last start, Micromanage was seventh to Zivo, with Whitney winner Moreno second, in the Suburban Handicap.
McLaughlin is taking a swing at the Birdstone with Shadwell Stable’s Irsaal, who has mostly been a miler and will be stretching out considerably at a mile and three-quarters.
“I don’t have any idea [about the distance],” McLaughlin said. “He trains real aggressively, and we thought it was worth a try. You just don’t know. It’s definitely an experiment.” . . .
The field for Sunday’s Adirondack for 2-year-old fillies is shaping up to include Wonder’s Gal, Angela Renee, Cavorting, Schuylerville runner-up Take Charge Brandi, Vivian Da Bling and Phoenix Park.
Angela Renee is a half-sister to Woodward winner To Honor and Serve. . . .
Lightly raced Fast Anna is in Saratoga and being pointed to the Grade I, $500,000 King’s Bishop on Aug. 23, according to trainer Kathy Ritvo.
A sophomore son of Medaglia d’Oro out of the mare Dreaming of Anna, both Grade I winners, Fast Anna is 2-for-2 in his brief career, each start coming at Gulfstream Park.