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Saratoga Opening Day
Close Hatches takes her walk down Victory Lane after winning the Mother Goose Stakes.
The $300,000 Mother Goose Stakes (G1) features top 3-year-old fillies going 1 1/16 miles around one turn of the Belmont Park main track. Just five fillies went to post on Saturday afternoon under sunny skies before the 6,652 fans in attendance, with Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) winner Dreaming of Julia sent off as the 1-5 favorite off her fourth place finish in the Kentucky Oaks (G1). In to challenge her included 4-1 second choice and Gazelle (G2) winner Close Hatches, second in the Acorn (G1) last out after finishing 7th in the Kentucky Oaks, and 9-1 third choice Marathon Lady, second in the Black-Eyed Susan (G2) after finishing third in the Fantasy (G3).
Close Hatches draws away in the stretch
Previous winners of the Mother Goose
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 3 Close Hatches Rosario 10.60 2.60 2.10 2 Dreaming of Julia Velazquez 2.10 2.10 1 Marathon Lady Albarado 2.20 Winning Time: 1:41.36 $2 Exacta 3-2 17.20 $2 Trifecta 3-2-1 31.60
Left: Close Hatches in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Bill Mott (far left) said, "She exploded nicely. She was doing very well – she only ran 3 1/2 weeks ago but she came out of it extremely well. She looked good, her color was good, I think she actually put on a little weight since then. It's one of those things that's hard to explain, why all of a sudden they start to really round into form. She was good before, but she really went into this one very nicely."
Right: Close Hatches heads back to the barn after the race. Mott added, "By the time we got to the middle of the turn, it looked like we got first run on Dreaming of Julia. At the 3/8 pole, we're breezing to the lead. It looked pretty good from here."
Left: Close Hatches heads out of the paddock. Jockey Joel Rosario said, "It was easy and I think it was only a one-horse race turning for home. She ran very good. She ran good last time, but in this race she ran better. That day (7th in the Kentucky Oaks) she never showed up, but after that when she came back here, she ran second (in the Acorn) and today even better."
Right: Close Hatches returns after the race. Mott added, "It's way too early to start talking about championships right now. There are some good fillies out there. I think it will all probably come down to who beats the older girls later in the year. A lot is decided October-November time. Now, she's got the Grade 1. There's no gun at our head to do anything. We'll wait until she's ready again. Right now, we'll try to keep her with her own age group, I suppose. The Coaching Club American Oaks is something to consider. If she's doing as well as she was going into today, we'll have to give it strong consideration."
Left: Second place finisher Dreaming of Julia in the paddock. Her trainer Todd Pletcher said, "She was never herself, it didn't look like. I don't know if she was kind of stuck in between horses, never really found a seam. I thought she ran very gutsy to get up for second when clearly she didn't run her race." Jockey John Velazquez added, "They go to the 1/2 mile pole, and the hole is that big. I tried to get there before it closes, and she didn't take it. Sure enough, the hole closed and we're back to last. She wasn't comfortable between horses, and I think she got shy from the time before when she got squeezed in the Oaks. Now she's between horses and getting shy in there. It's hard for her to get in there, and she didn't want to take it at all. That was it."
Right: Third place finisher Marathon Lady returns after the race. The 9-1 third choice was last 4 lengths off the early pace under jockey Robby Albarado, gained second in the stretch but could not hold off Dreaming of Julia, beaten 1/2 a length for place money. The Steve Hobby trainee improved her record to 1 win, 3 seconds, and 2 thirds in 7 starts, earning $233,100 for owners Alex and JoAnn Lieblong.
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