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Saratoga Opening Day
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Irad Ortiz Jr. celebrates aboard Questing after winning the 2012 Coaching Club American Oaks
The feature race on the Saturday of the Saratoga opening weekend is the $300,000 TVG Coaching Club American Oaks (G1), featuring some of the top 3-year-old fillies going 1 1/8 miles, one complete lap of the main track. The 21,948 fans in attendance enjoyed sunny skies and temperatures in the mid 80's. In Lingerie was sent off as the 3-2 favorite in the field of six, exiting consecutive wins in the Bourbonette Oaks (G3) at Turfway and the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (G2) at Pimlico. In to challenge her included 2-1 second choice Zo Impressive, winner of the Mother Goose (G1) at Belmont, and 7-2 third choice Questing, an allowance winner at Belmont last out.
Questing draws away from Zo Impressive and In Lingerie in the stretch
Saratoga Opening Day - with the James Marvin Stakes (G3) and Schuylerville Stakes (G3)
Sanford Stakes (G2) - from Sunday
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 1 Questing Ortiz Jr. 9.80 5.70 3.70 5 Zo Impressive Maragh 3.80 2.60 6 In Lingerie Castellano 2.40 Winning Time: 1:50.30 $2 Exacta 1-5 37.80 $2 Trifecta 1-5-6 73.00 $2 Superfecta 1-5-6-2 156.50
Left: Questing in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said, "She didn't run so well on the turf (in North America) twice. We switched her to the dirt, and now she's 2-for-2 for us on the dirt. It was a great win, a Grade 1 win, for Godolphin. It's wonderful for Sheikh Mohammed, and we're so proud to have her. Irad did a great job. He rode an excellent race for a 19-year-old kid. We thought we were faster than Yara, but he said, and we talked about it, 'If she goes, let her go.' And he rode a great race. He used good judgment. He did everything right. She drifted out, a little scary, but she crossed the wire first clearly, so we'll work on that later."
Right: Questing heads returns after the race.
Left: Questing heads out to the track before the race. Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., celebrating his first career graded stakes win, said, "I broke good, and when the No. 3 horse (Yara) went, I saved my horse. She was good and relaxed. When I asked her turning for home, she went on. It's so exciting. It's unbelievable to get my first graded stakes at Saratoga!" Ortiz began his career on New Year's Day, 2011 at Hipodromo Camarero in Puerto Rico before shifting his tack to the NYRA circuit in June of that year.
Right: Questing gets hosed down before heading to the barns.
Left: Second place finisher Zo Impressive returns after the race. Trainer Tom Albertrani said, "We took a shot at (Questing) at the 1/4 pole. It looked like we were going to get by her at one point, but she broke away from us again. If everything goes well over the next couple of weeks, we are definitely looking at the Alabama." Jockey Rajiv Maragh added, "My filly ran a great race. The winner just happened to have everything her way. Not that anything went really against me, I gave (Questing) a good challenge at the1/4 pole and thought I was going to be able to give her a good fight, but once (Ortiz) set his horse down, he kind of pulled away from me."
Right: Third place finisher and beaten favorite In Lingerie heads out for the post parade. Jockey Javier Castellano said, "She ran good. The winner, I give her all the credit. They didn't come back to us. My filly took me there and put me in the race but at the 1/4 pole, she was a little flat. Maybe it was it was because she was inside horses. I think she would do better coming around horses."
The start of the Coaching Club American Oaks.
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