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Jockey John Velazquez and Lawyer Ron after winning the Woodward
The $500,000 Woodward Stakes (G1) was the feature race at Saratoga on the last Saturday of the meeting, with a crowd of just 19,973 on hand under sunny skies and relatively cool temperatures. A field of eight older horses went 1 1/8 miles on the main track in this prep for the Breeders' Cup Classic. As expected, Lawyer Ron was sent off as the 3-4 favorite coming off his track-record performance in the Whitney Handicap over this same track and distance. In to challenge the Todd Pletcher trainee were 6-1 Political Force, winner of the Suburban Handicap at Belmont in his last start, and 7-1 Diamond Stripes, who was third behind Lawyer Ron in the Whitney last out, after finishing third in the Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs.
The field breaks from the gate for the Woodward with eventual winner Lawyer Ron on the inside.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 1 Lawyer Ron Velazquez 3.50 2.60 2.10 4 Sun King Garcia 7.70 4.70 2 Diamond Stripes Luzzi 3.50 Winning Time: 1:48.60 $2 Exacta 1-4 38.40 $2 Trifecta 1-4-2 162.00 $2 Superfecta 1-4-2-5 757.00
Lawyer Ron in the winner's circle. His trainer Todd Pletcher said, "Earlier, the track didn't seem like it was that fast. You have to consider, too, that he was carrying 126 pounds today. He was picking up a lot of weight on a track that wasn't as fast as on Whitney day. I thought he was every bit as good today as he was the other day. He took the race to everybody early on, and we worked our way out of the 1-post, which we were concerned about."
Lawyer Ron in the paddock before the race. Trainer Todd Pletcher said, "I think he has established himself as the top older horse in training. Now, we have to see how he matches up against some of the 3-year-olds. There is a chance he'll meet some of those in the Jockey Club Gold Cup if we decided to go there. The Whitney was arguably the strongest race anyone has run this year, and it was another big effort today."
Lawyer Ron returns after the race. His jockey John Velazquez said, "I just wanted to make sure that we ran into that first turn. I saw Wanderin Boy wanted to take the lead and I let him go. I got my horse to the outside, and then he was going well. I just wanted him to settle more on the outside; he was probably closer to the lead than I wanted him, but he was going so easily. After that, he was just cruising. Down the lane, I gave him a couple of spanks and he just ran away."
Second place finisher Sun King in the post parade. His trainer Nick Zito said, "Another second. This is too many seconds to me. Sun King ran great. Lawyer Ron got out and did the right thing. He let Wanderin Boy go, and got in good position and that was it. He beat us again." His jockey Alan Garcia said, "My horse came with a steady close. He beat some good horses for second."
Third place finisher Diamond Stripes in the post parade. His trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. said, "The winner was just too good today. My horse ran a good race. Nobody was beating Lawyer Ron today." His jockey Mike Luzzi said, "I won twice on him before. He's the same horse compared to the other times I rode him. Nothing has changed . This horse is a grinder and he grinded it out to finish third. At the 5/16 pole, Johnny (Velazquez on Lawyer Ron) moved his hands, and his horse took off."
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