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Ramon Dominquez and Fabulous Strike return after winning the 2009 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap
Whitney Hcp. & Test Stakes
Graded stakes action at Saratoga on Whitney weekend continued on Sunday with two sprints for the older horses. In contrast to Saturday, showers fell earlier in the day and the sky was overcast with temperatures in the low 70's, but the track remained fast. The $250,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (G2) featured a field of six older horses going 6 furlongs on the main track. True North Handicap winner Fabulous Strike was sent off as the even-money choice over 3-1 Kodiak Kowboy, exiting a win in the Donald LeVine Memorial Handicap at Philadelphia Park. Benny the Bull, second in the Smile Sprint Handicap was the 7-2 third choice on the board, while defending Canadian Horse of the Year Fatal Bullet was dismissed as the 5-1 fourth choice.
Fabulous Strike takes the lead in the stretch over Go Go Shoot with Kodiak Kowboy rallying on the outside.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 6 Fabulous Strike Dominguez 4.00 3.00 2.30 1 Go Go Shoot Velazquez 8.40 3.80 2 Kodiak Kowboy Saez 3.10 Winning Time: 1:10.58 $2 Exacta 6-1 40.60 $2 Trifecta 6-1-2 99.00
Left: Fabulous Strike in the winner's circle with trainer Todd Beattie on the right. Beattie said, "I've got to take my hat off to the horse. I'm lucky to be the guy to bring him over here. It couldn't be any better. I don't know how it could get any better than this, being around all the respected peers, my family, and everybody else that's around and watching; pretty big thrill."
Right: Fabulous Strike gets hosed off before heading back to the barn.
Left: Fabulous Strike heads out on the track before the race.
Right: Fabulous Strike in the post parade. His jockey Ramon Dominguez said, "He's so good, we often take it for granted that he will blow everyone away, at least I do, so anytime there is someone to challenge him it is cause for concern. But I was very happy with the way he ran. I know Go Go Shoot has been showing super fast fractions at Monmouth."
Left: Second place finisher Go Go Shoot in the post parade. His trainer Bruce Levine said, "At the 1/16 pole I thought I was going to win it. That was the strategy, to get out ahead quickly. I told him to go, and if you're last at the end, don't worry about it. Take him as far as he'll go. Nobody was really running and he cut the corner and I thought I had it. It's a nice horse that beat me."
Right: Third place finisher Kodiak Kowboy heads on to the track before the race. The 3-1 second choice trained the field early under regular rider Gabriel Saez, came out 4 wide into the stretch and closed well to get third beaten 2 1/4 lengths. The Larry Jones trained son of Posse by Coronado's Quest mare Kokadrie improved his record to 9 wins, 3 seconds, and 3 thirds in 20 starts, earning $1,183,363 for owners Vinery Stables and Fox Hill Farm.
Game Face takes the lead in the stretch run of the Honorable Miss
Keep the Peace rushed up to the front down on the rail under jockey Julien Leparoux and battled for the lead with Game Face and 11-1 Lady Chace through fractions of 22.76 and 45.74. Entering the stretch, Lady Chace tired and dropped back as the pacesetters continued their duel to the 1/8 pole through 5/8 in 56.50. Jockey Edgar Prado showed Game Face the whip late and she responded, shaking off Keep the Peace in the final 1/16 to win by 1 1/2 lengths in 1:10.70 over the fast track. It was just 3/4 length back from Keep the Peace to late-running 9-1 P.S.U. Grad third.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 3 Game Face Prado 4.40 3.00 2.70 1 Keep the Peace Leparoux 6.10 4.40 2 P.S.U. Grad Desormeaux 3.80 Winning Time: 1:10.70 $2 Exacta 3-1 23.20 $2 Trifecta 3-1-2 92.00
Left: Game Face in the winner's circle with trainer Todd Pletcher on the left with his sons. Pletcher said, "It didn't unfold exactly like we'd planned. She seems to like stalking, but she broke so sharply and put herself in a good spot and Edgar maintained his position. She ran a big race. She's a very genuine filly, she shows up almost every time."
Right: The trophy presentation for the Honorable Miss Handicap.
Left: Game Face returns after the race.
Right: Game Face heads out for the post parade. Her jockey Edgar Prado said, "We came running out of the gate to see what the other horses are doing. She was very happy, so I let her do what she was doing. She was comfortable, pretty much in command most of the race. She's a nice, easy filly to ride. She always gives me the kick."
Left: Second place finisher Keep the Peace in the post parade. Her trainer Eddie Kenneally said, "She showed up again today and ran a tremendous race. She didn't quit. She's a determined filly, but Game Face is a tough filly. She's the real deal."
Right: Third place finisher P.S.U. Grad returns after the race. The 9-1 fourth choice raced in fifth early under new jockey Kent Desormeaux, encountered traffic on the turn and then finished well to get third beaten 2 1/4 lengths. The Bob Baffert trainee improved her record to 4 wins, 4 seconds, and 4 thirds in 16 starts, earning $246,243 for owners Michael Shustek and W. Donald Stanley.
On to the Whitney Handicap & Test Stakes from Saturday
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