Saratoga signed off its Summer season with a high quality Saturday card, which included two grade 1 events, the Woodward and Spinaway Stakes.
The Spinaway Stakes, a seven furlong grade 1 for 2 year olds over 7 furlongs worth $350,000, had an exciting finished, ultimately called as a dead heat by the judge. However, in truth, it was a messy race with the lead changing hands on a regular basis.
Both horses (Sweet Loretta and Pretty City Dancer) lost their footing and broke badly at the start so a stalking trip was thrust upon them. They then bumped each other significantly near the close and it looked like Pretty City Dancer was just going to prevail before Sweet Loretta rallied to force the dead heat.
Given their travails in this race, it was impressive that they had finished nearly six lengths clear of the opposition and this bodes well for their future careers. The dead-heat victory of Sweet Loretta will be sweet music to Todd Pletcher as it breaks his voodoo whereby he has never won back to back renewals of this race.
The older horses got the chance to strut their stuff in the other grade 1 on the Saratoga card, the Woodward Stakes. This $600,000 grade 1 race for three year olds and above over a mile and an eighth looked to be at the mercy of the mighty Frosted. He had been simply devastating in his last two races, The Metropolitan Handicap and Whitney, earning Beyers of 123 (yes 123!) and 107 respectively.
However, it all went wrong at the start when Frosted broke tardily and was a bit mulish before getting into stride. He was always on the back foot thereafter. Nevertheless, he closed well to lead in the stretch before being run out of it by Shaman Ghost and Mubtaahij in a bunch finish. Jockey Joel Rosario was extremely confident in the saddle and seemed to expect Frosted to cruise by. Whether a more vigorous ride would have paid dividends, we will never know.
The final race in our review was Del Mar’s Debutante Stakes, a 7 furlong race for 2 year old fillies worth $300,000.
This looked a very competitive race with virtually every runner in with a chance and so it proved with the race going to Union Strike for rookie trainer Shelbe Ruis. Employing a wide-running stalking trip, Union Strike hit the front in mid-stretch and won comfortably by 2 ¼ lengths despite jockey Garcia dropping his whip. She was the only maiden in the field but looks scopey especially when she steps up in trip.