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Calvin Borel celebrates after winning the Alabama Stakes aboard Lady Joanne
The highlight race this week at Saratoga is the $600,000 Alabama Stakes (G1), the top race of the meeting for 3-year-old fillies, with an announced attendance of 33,083 on hand under sunny skies but unusually cool conditions. With Belmont Stakes winner Rags to Riches still out due to injury, a field of seven entered the gate in this 1 1/4 mile main track feature, with two of her stablemates going off with the shortest odds on the board. 2-1 favorite Panty Raid entered the race off a three race winning streak, which included both the Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico and then the American Invitational Oaks at Hollywood on turf in her last start. 5-2 second choice Octave was coming off a two straight wins each in Grade 1 company, the Mother Goose and the Coaching Club American Oaks. Carl Nafzger trainee Lady Joanne, winner of the Banshee Breeze last out, was the 9-2 third choice.
Nearing the finish with Lady Joanne, Lear's Princess, and Octave
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 7 Lady Joanne Borel 11.00 5.30 3.20 6 Lear's Princess Coa 5.30 3.00 4 Octave Velazquez 2.60 Winning Time: 2:03.62 $2 Exacta 7-6 57.00 $2 Trifecta 7-6-4 177.00
Lady Joanne in the winner's circle. Her trainer Carl Nafzger (far right) said, "Calvin just rode an unbelievable race. Last time he ran against Octave, she had us inside. This time, we had her inside. I'm sorry about the inquiry, but when you look at it, John (Velazquez on Octave) never did quit riding. When I looked at the side view, I could tell we were in front, so we were okay then. It was a tight hole, but it was a good hole. We weren't far back; we were right there on top of them. It was just a matter of holding off (Lear's Princess)."
Jockey Calvin Borel celebrates as Lady Joanne heads for the winner's circle. He said, "This is unbelievable. It's like a roller coaster ride. If (Street Sense and Lady Joanne) stay sound, they may be the best horses right now. This filly has turned it around like night and day. She didn't break well. She ducked in as soon as the gate opened. We settled down and went off from there. Down the lane, she switched leads at the last jump before the wire."
Lady Joanne in the post parade. Trainer Carl Nafzger said, "She just keeps stepping forward every race. This was the kind of race she was supposed to step forward like she did. I'll probably run her in the Spinster at Keeneland. The way we're going now, we'll definitely go to the Breeders' Cup Distaff."
Second place finisher Lear's Princess returns after the race. Her trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said, "She was a little wide around the far turn, but she ran great. I thought there was a chance where we would have gotten up. We were second-best to a nice filly." Her jockey Eibar Coa said, "(Lear's Princess) poked me. It might have been a little to close to the wire, and maybe that's the reason it didn't take effect. But I was happy with the effort my horse gave me. She was trying hard in the stretch and the winner never gave up. You have to give her credit, too."
Third place finisher Octave returns after the race. Octave saved ground around both turns and when asked by jockey John Velazquez, was possibly shut off when Calvin Borel angled eventual winner Lady Joanne to the rail in mid stretch. With her third place finish she improved her record to 4 wins, 6 seconds, and 1 third in 11 career starts with earnings of $1,287,934 for owners Starlight Stable and Donald Lucarelli. Velazquez and trainer Todd Pletcher both refused comment after the race.
Fifth place finisher and beaten favorite Panty Raid heads out for the post parade. Favorite Panty Raid raced in sixth early under jockey Edgar Prado, moved up to fourth in midstretch after coming out five wide, but flattened out late, fading to fifth at the finish. Her record is now 4 wins, 1 second, and no thirds in 7 lifetime starts with earnings of $710,275 for owner Glencrest Farm LLC. Trainer Todd Pletcher refused comment after the race.
Latitude Forty in the winner's circle. Winning trainer John Hertler said, "She was right there the whole way. She looked real good. She got herself right into the race right at the beginning and finished good. I'm real proud of her. It's definitely a relief (to finally get a win during the meet). It feels good. I'm happy and a little surprised."
Latitude Forty in the paddock before the race. Winning jockey Kent Desormeaux said, "I was so hopeful to do well with her today. I felt one got away from me when I rode her here last year; she bolted at the start. It was nice that we could put it together here. She gave me a good ride. The pace quickened dramatically after the half. She was able to keep up with them going around the turn. She reeled them in and stayed with them. She had to fight for her position at the quarter-pole, but she did it for me."
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