The last time trainer Edward “Ned” Allard won a graded stakes race at Saratoga Race Course was 1988, in a race that doesn’t even exist anymore.
The last time jockey Frankie Pennington won a race of any kind at Saratoga was … never.
They teamed up to win the six-furlong $100,000 Tale of the Cat with Always Sunshine on Friday, spoiling the comeback and winning streak of My Boy Tate.
Allard, who won the 1985 Alabama with Mom’s Command and the 1988 Seneca Handicap with Fuller’s Folly, and Pennington are based in the mid-Atlantic and don’t make it to Saratoga much.
They made the most of this trip.
Always Sunshine stalked My Boy Tate early, made his move at the eighth pole and pulled away at the sixteenth pole for a two-length win.
“He’s a horse with a lot of talent, and if you time it right, he’s a dangerous racehorse,” Allard said. “I was real pleased with his effort. He kicked real hard in the last part, and that’s when it counts.”
As Pennington brought Always Sunshine into the winner’s circle, he was serenaded with shouts of “Attaboy, Frankie” from some fans outside the fence.
“Yeah, first win at Saratoga, and for it to be a stake, you can’t ask for anything better than that. That’s awesome,” he said.
My Boy Tate was making his first start since Feb. 19, and had a five-race winning streak dating back to a maiden race at Saratoga last year.
The Tale of the Cat victory allows Allard to consider a path for Always Sunshine to the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, where he likely would meet Imperial Hint.
Imperial Hint, who put in a monster performance in the A.G. Vanderbilt earlier in the meet, beat Always Sunshine by 9 1/2 lengths in the Grade II True North on June 8.
“The day we met him, there was a horse that broke down in front of us, and the rider really had to take up on him and try to get him back in gear,” Allard said. “Not that I’m throwing the race out, but we had absolutely no racing luck. I don’t think we were going to beat him that day, but I think he was going to make a horse race out of it.”
With two straight victories since the True North, Always Sunshine could be gaining some momentum at the right time of year.
“We’re going to dream a little bit, because he’s awful good right now,” Allard said.
Gunnevera, who was second to West Coast in the Travers last year and won the Sanford at Saratoga in 2016, won an allowance race by 6 1/2 lengths at Gulfstream Park on Friday and will point toward the Woodward on closing weekend.
He had been away from the races for 4 1/2 months with a hoof injury after finishing eighth in the Dubai World Cup.
Wonder Gadot trained in the first set on Friday morning, then trainer Mark Casse waited until after the second set to talk to the media about it because “she’s the star, and he’s the next one.”
Casse was referring to a 2-year-old colt named Wild Medagliad’oro, who finished second on July 28 in his career debut.
That reinforced Casse’s belief that he has a nice horse on his hands, since Wild Medagliad’oro was well out of it by over 10 lengths and finished strongly to the wire.
“I like his looks, I like his pedigree,” Casse said. “Medaglia d’Oro’s probably as hot a sire as there is in the world right now. I like the way he moves. I had high hopes for him going into the first race, and then I was extremely happy. Not a lot of young horses can come from last or next-to-last, take all the dirt and come running, and he did that extremely well.”
Casse said Wild Medagliad’oro will run in another maiden race before the end of the meet, but won’t be in the Hopeful. Still, he expects to enter him in a stakes race soon.
“I think if he can continue to progress, I see him possibly as a Breeders’ Cup horse,” Casse said. “I’m pretty excited about him, and he worked extremely well this morning. Maybe a maiden here and we’re eyeing the Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland or the Futurity at Belmont.”
AROUND THE TRACK
Jockey John Velazquez took off his mounts for the third day in a row with a sore ankle.
He’s scheduled to be at Arlington Park in Chicago on Saturday to ride long shot Carrick in the Secretariat, morning-line favorite Sistercharlie in the Beverly D. and Money Multiplier in the Arlington Million. …
Southern Phanton, trainer Eric Guillot’s 2-year-old colt who has quickly become a fan favorite because of his all-white face, is entered in Saturday’s second race.
He finished fifth in his career debut on July 21. …
Monday’s scheduled stakes race, the $100,000 Saratoga Dew for New York-breds, will not be run because of a lack of entries.