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Saratoga Opening Day
Martin Garcia celebrates aboard The Factor after winning the Rebel Stakes.
On Saturday, a field of 9 three-year-olds went 1 1/16 miles in the $300,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) at Oaklawn Park, the major local prep for the Arkansas Derby and an important race for graded stakes earnings to make the Kentucky Derby field. The Factor was sent off as the 7-5 favorite off two straight wins, a maiden and the San Vicente Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita. In to challenge him included 9-5 second choice Sway Away, second in the San Vicente (G2), and 7-2 third choice J P's Gusto, second in the Southwest (G3) last out. Unfortunately, Alternation had to be scratched after he flipped in the starting gate causing a superficial cut in his left foreleg.
The Factor leads first time by in the Rebel Stakes
Jockey Martin Garcia sent The Factor to the front first time past the stands and he was allowed an uncontested lead of 2 1/2 lengths while setting fractions of 23.33, 46.77, and 1:10.98 over the fast track, with 35-1 Saratoga Red and 7-1 Archarcharch stalking him second and third respectively. Entering the stretch, Saratoga Red tired while 25-1 The Factor, 7th early, started his rally 5 wide. However The Factor easily pulled away to win by 6 1/4 lengths in 1:42.19. It was just a neck back to Archarcharch third.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 6 The Factor Garcia 4.80 4.00 3.20 7 Caleb's Posse Razo 14.20 6.80 1 Archarcharch Court 4.20 Winning Time: 1:42.19 $2 Exacta 6-7 112.60 $1 Trifecta 6-7-1 255.70 $1 Superfecta 6-7-1-8 2,606.00
Left: The Factor in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Bob Baffert said, "It was pretty amazing what he did today. This was a more demanding track than Santa Anita and he probably got more out of this than any race so far. Right now I'd say we would probably come back (for the Arkansas Derby). He clearly could have gone 1 1/8 today."
Right: The Factor in the post parade. Winning jockey Martin Garcia said, "He is really that fast. He surprises a lot of people. He doesn't look like he's going as fast as he is. He just keeps going. Today was his first time going that distance and look what he did. Nobody was going to catch him today."
Left: Second place finisher Caleb's Posse in the post parade. His trainer Donnie Von Hemel said, "I'm proud as punch of Caleb. I was afraid that the winner could get out there and put up a 46 and change on the front end. That's what he did and he just proved too tough to catch, but I'm proud as I can be of him."
Right: Third place finisher Archarcharch in the post parade. The 7-1 fourth choice stalked the pace in 3rd saving ground under jockey Jon Court, but could not improve late to finish 3rd beaten 6 1/2 lengths. The William Fires trainee improved his record to 2 wins, 1 second, and 1 third in 5 starts, earning $232,744 for owners Robert and Loval Yagos.
Left: The jockeys head over to the infield saddling area before the Rebel.
Right: The post parade for the Rebel Stakes.
Havre de Grace winning the Azeri Stakes
9-1 Absinthe Minded set the early pace of 23.64, 47.51, and 1:11.58 while 55-1 Shotgun Gulch stalked her 1 1/2 lengths behind. Entering the stretch, Havre de Grace, who sat 4th for the first 5/8 mile, came out 3 wide and swept by the tiring pacesetters to take the lead, opening up a 2 1/2 length advantage at the 1/8 pole. Blind Luck, last for the first 3/4 mile, but in her usual late run but was no match for Havre de Grace who cruised under the line 3 1/4 lengths clear in a stakes-record-equaling time of 1:42.02. It was another 1 3/4 lengths back to Absinthe Minded third.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 4 Havre de Grace Dominguez 5.20 2.60 2.20 7 Blind Luck Gomez 2.60 2.10 6 Absinthe Minded Borel 3.00 Winning Time: 1:42.02 $2 Exacta 4-7 10.20 $1 Trifecta 4-7-6 25.30 $1 Superfecta 4-7-6-1 65.20Results Chart from DRF.
Right: Havre de Grace in the paddock before the race. Winning jockey Ramon Dominguez said, "When I asked her to run she just picked it up nicely and really, turning for home, she was striding out beautiful and galloped out strong."
Left: Second place finisher Blind Luck in the post parade. Her trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said, "I didn't expect the pace to back up if they gave them an easy lead. She ran well."
Right: Third place finisher Absinthe Minded in the post parade. The 9-1 fourth choice set the early pace saving ground the whole way under jockey Calvin Borel, but tired in the stretch to finish 3rd beaten 5 lengths. The D. Wayne Lukas trainee improved her record to 4 wins, 4 seconds, and 1 third in 18 starts, earning $234,293 for owner-breeder Briland Farm.
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