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Covfefe and Joel Rosario head to the winner's circle after the Test Stakes.
The co-feature on on Whitney day at Saratoga was the $500,000 Longines Test Stakes (G1) for 3-year-old fillies sprinting 7 furlongs on the main track. Conditions were ideal with the main track fast and turf courses firm under sunny skies and temperatures in the low 80's for the 40,791 fans in attendance. Santa Anita Oaks (G1) winner Bellafina was the 5-4 favorite in the field of 7, unraced since 5th as the favorite in the Kentucky Oaks (G1). In to challenge her included 3-1 second choice and undefeated Royal Charlotte, winner of the Victory Ride (G3), and 13-4 third chocie Covfefe, winner of the Miss Preakness (G3) but 3rd in the Roxelana.
Covfefe leads down the stretch in the Test Stakes.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 3 Covfefe Rosario 8.50 5.10 3.30 1 Serengeti Empress Ortiz 5.50 3.30 2 Bellafina Prat 2.80 Winning Time: 1:21.26 $1 Exacta 3-1 26.25 $1 Trifecta 3-1-2 66.00 $1 Superfecta 3-1-2-4 293.00
Left: Covfefe in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Brad Cox said, "Her last two works at Churchill were phenomenal. I knew when we turned for home, we were going to get as good a Covfefe as we could get at this point of the year. I knew when she turned for home, she wasn't going to give in today. If she was ever going to get seven-eighths it was going to be today. She responded well and Joel [Rosario] gave her an excellent trip. To get a Grade 1 with her is huge. It was a super effort."
Right: Covfefe heads back to the barn. Winning jockey Joel Rosario said, "She was there for me the whole time. She galloped better and better going forward and that was a tremendous race. I know turning for home, I had [Serengeti Empress] on the inside and at one point she came back a little and was there all the time. It turned out to be a good race at the end. Brad told me to just break good and see where I'd be during the race and just take it from there. She was always there for me. I had a lot of confidence."
Left: Covfefe in the paddock.
Right: Covfefe returns after the race. Cox added, "It was up to Joel where he wanted her to be. They sent the filly [Serengeti Empress, No. 1] from the inside and it worked out well. We sat a good trip. I think if you were to ask our filly, she could probably be in front of that filly, but she's a smart filly and was able to sit off. We had to get by a Kentucky Oaks winner. That's a Grade 1 winning filly on the inside and now we have a Grade 1 winner. It was a big effort and I'm super proud of her. I'm very thankful for LNJ Foxwoods to give us an opportunity like this."
Left: Second place finisher Serengeti Empress in the post parade. Trainer Tom Amoss said, "This is one of those races similar to the Acorn. We don't hang our heads at all. Our horse ran such a fine race. It was the kind of race that the fans were hoping for and for myself personally - I wish it had gone the other way - what a great stretch duel. We got beat by a wonderful performance by our opponent Covfefe. Just as importantly, I look at the last 1/16 mile this race and how my filly kept on fighting and I could not be more proud of her. There will be other days for us, but don't take anything away from Serengeti Empress. She ran great."
Right: Third place finisher and beaten favorite Bellafina returns after the race. The Simon Callaghan trainee improved her record to 6 wins, 1 second, and 1 third in 10 starts, earning $1,162,125 for owner Kaleem Shah.
Kicking off the stakes action on Saturday, the $200,000 Troy Stakes (G3) featured a field of 5 older horses sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs on the Mellon turf course. Pure Sensation was sent off as the 5-4 favorite off wins in the Pennsylvania Governor's Cup and the Parx Dash (G3). In to challenge him included 2-1 second choice Disco Partner, third in the Jaipur Invitational (G1), and 11-4 third choice Wet Your Whistle, winner of the Highlander (G1).
Jockey Chris Landeros sent 17-2 Rocket Heat to the lead through fractions of 20.82 and 43.01 while pressed by Pure Sensation and stalked by 11-2 Leinster. Turning for home, Disco Partner, 4th early, moved up to take the lead through 5f in 54.26, but jockey Tyler Gaffalione moved Leinster 4 wide for room and he rallied to win by 3/4 length in a new course record of 1:00.23, 0.23 second faster than Lady Shipman's record set in 2015. It was a length back to favorite Pure Sensation third.
Left: Leinster in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Rusty Arnold said, "The weekend has been good. This horse just got good when we started sprinting him on the grass. He's 3-for-3. I guess it took it a long time for us to figure out what he wanted to do, but he figured it out. It's obviously a fast course and he seemed to like it. The plan is to go to Kentucky Downs. We were going to go there anyway, we wanted to see how he fit before he did it, and he fit pretty well."
Right: Leinster heads out for the post parade. Winning jockey Tyler Gaffalione said, "It set up perfect. The speed went on and we were able to track them in a nice stalking position. When I asked him for run coming into the stretch, he kicked on and finished the job nicely. He galloped out well. He seems to keep improving every time he runs. Rusty and his team have done a great job with him. I think that's my first track record. It's very special to have it happen here."
Left: Second place finisher Disco Partner returns after the race. Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. said, "No excuses. He always tries hard."
Right: Third place finisher and beaten favorite Pure Sensation returns after the race. The Christophe Clement trainee improved his record to 13 wins, 5 seconds, and 7 thirds in 34 starts, earning $1,797,550 for owner-breeder Patricia Generazio.
Immediately before the Test Stakes, the $100,000 Fasig-Tipton Lure Stakes featured a field of 7 older horses going 1 1/16 miles on the inner turf. Allowance winner Lucullan was sent off as the 2-1 favorite over 3-1 Voodoo Song, 8th in the Forbidden Apple (G3) and 7-2 Sacred Life, 4th in the Prix Exbury (G3).
Jockey Jose Lezcano sent Voodoo Song to the front through fractions of 23.38, 46.97, and 1:10.65 while pressed by 10-1 Noble Indy and stalked by Lucullan. Turning for home, jockey Luis Saez sent Lucullan 3 wide for room and he opened up a 2 length lead through 1 mile in 1:33.82. Sacred Life put in a strong late rally from 6th early but Lucullan held him off to win by a nose in 1:39.63. It was another 1 1/4 lengths back to 5-1 Ticonderoga third.
Left: Lucullan in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said, "It worked out well. Luis rode him excellent. He had a ton of horse turning for home and he didn't want to get there too soon. It was a very game effort and an excellent ride, and we hope to move on to bigger and better things. He said he wanted to wait. He got there a little too soon, but he said he ducked back in. So, a win's a win here. A mile to a mile and an eighth, we'll look around and try and duck Bricks and Mortar."
Right: Lucullan heads back to the barn after the race. Winning jockey Luis Saez said, "It was beautiful. That was the plan. I knew that [Noble Indy] and [Voodoo Song] had the most speed, so everything went according to plan. It was perfect. At the 3/8 he was puling me, but I still waited because I knew the horses in front were stopping. I had to save him until the end. When I let him go, he took off."
Left: Second place finisher Sacred Life returns after the race. Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. said, "When I turned for home, he picked up the bit. He was relaxed the whole way, and I was making him pick it up, pick it up, but he picked it up too late. He wants to run long."
Right: Third place finisher Ticonderoga heads out for the post parade. The Chad Brown trainee improved his record to 5 wins, 3 seconds, and 2 thirds in 17 starts, earning $431,470 for owner Woodford Racing.
Also on the card: The Whitney and De La Rose Stakes
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