SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. —Saratoga's Saturday afternoon stakes action kicked off with the $150,000, Grade 3 Sanford Stakes for 2-year-old colts, a race in which Starlight Racing's Sombeyay let two of his heavy rivals do all the heavy work before he charged to the front inside the eighth pole and stole the win from them.
A half hour or so later, Peter M. Brandt's Irish-bred and well traveled Sistercharlie came from sixth place in a field of seven fillies and mares to get up and win the $500,000, Grade 1 Diana Stakes by the narrowest of noses.
With Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez in the saddle for two-time Eclipse Award winning trainer Chad Brown, the 4-year-old Sistercharlie brought two brilliant races to Saratoga for her start in the 80th running of the Diana, a race that has been run at a mile and furlong on the Mellon Turf course in the modern era.
After winning Keeneland's Jenny Wiley in just her second start in North America, Sistercharlie was bumped at the start and missed winning Belmont's Grade 2 New Yorker Stakes by a head to Fourstrar Crook early last month.
In the Diana, she was once again a little laggard coming out of the starting gate. Velazquez was content to let Alex Campbell's Ultra Brat and Lael Stable's Hawkster to do battle on the head end. The German-bred A Raving Beauty tried to mix it up with those two but was caught in traffic and lost all change when she was steadied in the stretch.
By that time, Velazquez was in gear with Sistercharlie and she raced up the lane to get to the wire a nose to the good of Ultra Brat and Joel Rosario. A Raving Beauty and Irad Ortiz took third another half length ahead of Hawkster.
Sistercharlie ran the mile and a furlong in 1:46.26 over a firm turf course to earn her fifth lifetime win from nine starts. She added another $275,000 to the racing account of the Lexington, Ky.-based Starlight group that is managed by veteran horsewoman and television commentator Donna Barton-Brothers.
After Sistercharlie's win in the Diana, she can expect more work from trainer Brown very soon. His post race comment was, “I'm looking forward to getting her out to further distances from here on out. I might bring her back in the [$600,000, Grade 1] Beverly D [Arlington Park, Aug. 11 at 1-3/16 miles]. I know it's in three weeks. But, this filly is strong and there's a lot of constitution about her. She's lightly raced. If she's sound, I'm going to take her to Chicago,” he concluded.
At the start of the 104th running of the Sanford, Bano Solo and Strike Silver, a pair of colts who shipped up from Churchill Downs after winning their maiden races, went stride for stride from the starting gate, up the backstretch and around the Union Avenue turn with neither gaining a perceptible advantage.
Ricardo Santana, Jr., on Bano Solo, and Julien Leparoux, on Strike Silver, were letting their charges roll through a quarter mile in 22.26 seconds and a half in 45.49. Meanwhile, Hall of Fame rider Javier Castellano was sitting off the pace with Sombeyay waiting for those two to burn each other out.
Passing the eighth pole, Bano Solo began to shorten stride while Strike Silver went on. By that time, Castellano had Sombeyay in gear and Irad Ortiz had pushed the 'go' button on Whiskey Echo.
Sombeyay gained the lead passing the sixteenth marker and got up to win the historic race by neck over Strike Silver. He salvaged second money by three parts of a length over Whiskey Echo with Bano Solo another half length back in fourth.
The outcome could have been different for Whiskey Echo, a Belmont Park maiden winner a month earlier. But, Irad Ortiz, a several times riding champion on the New York circuit, lost his whip passing the sixteenth pole.
Somebeyay was clocked in 1:10.45 for the six furlongs on a fast main track.
The win was the second in a three-race career for the son of Into Mischief from the Limehouse mare Ternoda. In his last start, he overcame a stumbling start to get up for second place in Belmont Park's $150,000 Tremont stakes.
After the post race photos, mega trainer Todd Pletcher credited “experience” with helping his colt win the race named for the famed Saratoga family that first put Thoroughbred racing on the Upstate New York map after the Civil War.
“Having two starts compared to the others having one helped today,” he said. “I think it hurt him a little the last time when he stumbled. But, you could argue that it helped him today.”
When asked the inevitable 'What's next, Todd?,' the silver-named conditioner said, “I think the [$350,000, Grade 1] Hopeful [Sept. 3] would be the next logical step with these three starts under his belt.” He then quickly added, “...if he's tearing the barn down. We'll see.”
At Monmouth Park...
Miss Deplorable, the second longest shot in the race at 12 to 1, dueled with the pace-setting Elizabeth Darcy, disposed of that one and went on to win Saturday's $60,900 Blue Sparker Stakes for 3-year-old grass running fillies.
With Carlos Hernandez in the saddle for the Delaware Park-based trainer Baltazar Galvan, the filly improved her record to two wins and a second in three tries on the turf. The win by one length in the 5-1/2-furlong race earned $36,000 for her owners who call themselves “Six Sand Baggers Stables.” She was clocked in 1:02.74 on a firm turf course.
Auldwood Lane, racing for Red Bank attorney Dennis Drazin, took second with Paco Lopez aboard for trainer Jason Servis. Not in Jeopardy and Jairo Rendon were third.
Trainer Galvan's post race comment was a relieved, “I break my own babies, Nobody has ever put a saddle on her. It's a very good feeling to get that first stakes win.” That win was worth $27.20 to the patrons who bet $2 on her to win.
Pennsylvania-bred 3-year-old sprinters and distance runners were in Saturday's spotlight.
Sweet By and Bye, the only filly in a field of eight starters, took the measure of her male rivals in the $100,000-guaranteed Crowd Pleaser Stakes, a race over the Bensalem turf course at 1-1/16 miles.
With the red-hot Delaware Park riding sensation Carol Cedeno in the saddle for trainer Steve Klesaris and the Briardale Stable, the gray filly attended the pace set by Smooth B and Angel Arroyo. Cedeno and Sweet Bye and Bye went to the lead turning for home and improved their advantage to three lengths at the finish line as the 19 to 10 favorite.
The winner stopped the teletimer in 1:42.76 over a firm course while carrying 113 and getting nine pounds from Smooth B, the co-highweight who stayed on for second.
Sweet Bye and Bye, a daughter of Sky Mesa from the Maria's Mon mare Twiggles, was bred by Joseph Imbesi.
After drifting out under steady left handed pressure through most of the home stretch, Waldorf Racing Stables' Fielder got up in the final strides to defeat 11 rivals in the $100,000-guaranteed Marshall Jenney Stakes at five furlongs on the turf.
The winning margin for the 4-year-old gelded son of Sidney's Candy from the Ten Most Wanted mare Karakorum Fugitive was a nose. The Marya Montoya trainee was ridden by Mychel Sanchez to a :57.51 clocking and a $35.20 payoff to his backers.
He was bred by HnR Nothhaft Horseracing LLC.
Day 2 attendance: 33,326.
On-track handle: $5.88 million.
All sources handle: $24.76 million.
Jockey Standings: Javier Castellano, Joel Rosario and Ricardo Santana, Jr., 3 wins each.
Trainer Standings: Chad Brown, 4 wins. Steve Asmussen and Todd Pletcher, 2 each.
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