By Jarrod Horak
Opening week at Saratoga featured unsettled weather and multiple upsets in the stakes races. There were seven stakes from July 13-16 and Whitebeam (GB) was the star of the week. Chad Brown’s filly nipped her highly regarded stablemate In Italian (GB) in the Grade 1 Diana.
Schuylerville (G3) – July 13 – 6 furlongs
Four scratches knocked this race down to seven horses. Carmelina was hustled away from the inside gate as expected and Saratoga Secret hounded her from the outset. The latter did all of the pace dirty work and first time starter Becky’s Joker ($44.40) chased from third, got to the front in the lane, and bounded away to score by 3 1/4 lengths under Javier Castellano. Saratoga Secret was clearly second best and Closing Act nipped beaten favorite Wine On Tap for show honors. Carmelina weakened to 5th and was followed by Sugar Treat and Kiss for Luck. Gary Contessa saddled the winner and the final time was 1:12.52.
Wilton – July 14 – 8 furlongs
Sacred Wish scratched and that left a 4-horse field. Randomized ($4.60) made the early lead and was never seriously threatened in a comfortable 1 1/2 length victory. Irad Ortiz Jr. rode the winner for Chad Brown and the final time was 1:35.83. Just Katherine stumbled at the start from the inside post and was away last out of the chute. She moved up and tried to make a race of it in the lane but was no match for the winner. She ended up 10 lengths clear of Unsung Melody. Beaten favorite Accede raced wide and was far behind the rest.
Coronation Cup – July 14 – 5 1/2 furlongs
This race was originally scheduled for turf and was transferred to the fast main track. It was originally a 9-horse field but five scratches reduced the field size to four. Unified Alliance ($7.50) scooted to the front after briefly dueling with Anna’s Arabesque. The early pace advantage made all the difference and Unified Alliance was clear by a length and a half when all was said and done. Anna’s Arabesque briefly lost second around the final turn but never stopped trying and was more than 6 lengths clear of beaten favorite L Street Lady. The latter moved up outside to challenge Unified Alliance around the final turn but flattened out and was no threat to the top two finishers. Wildhawk trailed throughout. The final time was 1:03.80. Javier Castellano guided home the winner for Thomas Morley.
Diana (G1) – July 15 – 1 1/8 miles turf
They were back on turf at Saratoga and the course was listed as firm. In Italian (GB) was the overwhelming favorite and she set the pace as expected. She went her opening quarter in 23.96 and the second quarter in 24.04, but was forced to go faster in the middle (23.86, 23.69). Those strong interior fractions and inability to shake loose by more than a length left the favorite vulnerable in the stretch. Her stablemate Whitebeam ($17.60) stalked while out in the clear from the outside post, and she nailed In Italian in the closing stride to prevail by a nose. Fev Rover (IRE) was fractious in the gate and was backed out. She regained her composure, was reloaded, and ended up saving ground stalking the pace. In Italian and Whitebeam quickened around the final turn and Fev Rover was hard ridden but could not keep up. Javier Castellano moved Fev Rover out in the stretch and she started to gather momentum late. She ended up missing the place by a half-length and was gaining on the top two in deep stretch. She was well clear of Marketsegmentation and Fluffy Socks. The final time was 1:48.33. Chad Brown saddled the winner and this was his seventh Diana victory in the last eight years.
Kelso (G3) – July 15 – 8 furlongs inner turf
The pace figured to be honest and that is how it played out. Big Everest (GB) set a solid tempo and Filo Di Arianna chased from second. The two favorites, Annapolis and Casa Creed, were racing together and biding their time. Casa Creed broke from the outside post and had outside position on Annapolis. The latter was bottled up inside and looked washy under Ortiz Jr. Casa Creed ($6.50) made an outside move and got the jump on Annapolis, and he scored by a length for Luis Saez and Bill Mott. Annapolis angled wide in the stretch and found his best stride late to secure the place but was never catching the winner. English Bee stalked the pace from the inside post and just held the show at 31-1. Ice Chocolat (BRZ) rallied from last to just miss the show. Big Everest weakened to 5th and was followed by Filo Di Arianna and Anaconda. The final time was 1:35.51.
Sanford (G3) – July 15 – 6 furlongs dirt
Strong favorite Gold Sweep stumbled at the start from post 8 and was away last, and this race had upset written all over it after that development. Dickens and Market Street showed the way for much of the running and they kicked away from the rest turning for home. Yo Yo Candy ($94) was always in a good stalking spot. He sat in third, swung out in the stretch, moved past the early runners and won by 2 1/2 lengths in a huge upset. Angel Castillo rode the winner for Daniel Velazquez and the final time was 1:11.83. Gold Sweep stayed wide after his troubled beginning and kept plugging away from off the pace. He ended up landing the place in a solid effort. Dickens held third over Triple Trea and Call the Cavalry finished 5th and was vanned off after the race. Market Street, Jive, His Rights, and Ramming Speed completed the order of finish.
Quick Call (G3) – July 16 – 5.5 furlongs dirt
Just like the Coronation Cup on July 14, this race was originally scheduled for turf and was transferred to the main track. The track was sloppy and six horses scratched. That left a 6-horse field and Uncashed was the favorite. He did not disappoint. He went straight to the front and rolled home by 5 1/2 lengths under Irad Ortiz Jr. He stopped the clock in 1:03.44 and paid $4.40 to win for trainer Larry Rivelli. Joey Freshwater stalked wide and was clearly second best. Two of a Kind checked in third and was followed by Acoustic Ave, Briterdayzahead, and Kigali.