Arkansas Derby Day
Apple Blossom & Fantasy
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Wood Memorial Day
Kentucky Derby Contenders
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Owner Rick Porter leads Havre de Grace and Ramon Dominguez to the winner's circle after the Woodward.
The highlight race on closing weekend at Saratoga is the $750,000 Woodward Stakes (G1). It is the major local prep for the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) and ultimately the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1), for older horses going 1 1/8 miles over the main track. A field of 8 went to post before 24,430 fans on a sunny Saturday afternoon, but all eyes were on 9-4 favorite Havre de Grace, attempting to become only the second filly (after Rachel Alexandra) to win the Woodward. She comes to Saratoga off a close second in the Delaware Handicap (G2) after winning the Azeri (G3), Apple Blossom (G1), and Obeah (G3) Stakes. In to challenge her included 5-2 second choice Flat Out, second in the Whitney (G1) after winning the Suburban (G1), and 4-1 third choice Rule, off a win in the Birdstone Stakes after finishing third in the Salvator Mile (G3).
Havre de Grace takes the lead in the stretch.
Also on the card were the Forego Stakes (G1) won by Jackson Bend and the Personal Ensign (G1) won by Ask the Moon.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 6 Havre de Grace Dominguez 6.50 3.50 2.10 7 Flat Out Solis 3.70 2.50 4 Rule Castellano 2.70 Winning Time: 1:49.18 $2 Exacta 6-7 17.00 $2 Trifecta 6-7-4 51.00 $2 Superfecta 6-7-4-2 250.00
Left: Havre de Grace in the winner's circle with owner Rick Porter on the far left and trainer Larry Jones on the far right. Porter said, "I think on the East Coast, she just showed she was better than the older males today. I knew Flat Out was coming. I still thought that Ramon had a lot of horse. He wasn't working hard on her until the 1/4 pole. She can get 1 1/8 easier than she can get 1 1/4. She can get 1 1/4 - she was a nose short. I'd like to beat Blind Luck again, but I would also like to win the Classic." She will start next in the Beldame and then either the Breeders' Cup Classic or Ladies' Classic.
Right: Havre de Grace gets hosed off after the race by trainer Larry Jones. Jones said, "I think this puts us up there with everyone else (for Horse of the Year). We have to continue on. It's not over today, by any means. By coming here today we gave her the opportunity to move closer to a championship. I think she did it. I think we're in front of the division. She just doesn't have a weak link. She does it on all occasions. Where some of them have so much heart and courage to do it, others have pure speed and class, she's got it all. And when you hook her eyeball-to-eyeball, she just gets tougher."
Left: Havre de Grace in the paddock before the race
Right: Havre de Grace heads out to the track. Her jockey Ramon Dominguez said, "It was a great trip. Going into the first turn we were a little wide following Convocation, who was to my inside. I didn't really want to give up my position. As soon as I got to the backside, Convocation got out of that spot. She called on herself beautifully. She had a great stride on her, very relaxed. As soon as I started pressing around the 3/8 pole, she just kept coming for me and I really let out. I could feel (Flat Out) and I could also hear Alex (Solis) kind of encouraging his horse, but she wasn't really about to give up at all."
Left: Second place finisher Flat Out returns after the race. His trainer Charles Dickey said, "He was still trying. That was a good filly. She beat us. We're going forward. He was kicking in; I was hoping he'd run. I thought she was the horse to beat all along." Jockey Alex Solis added, "No excuse. I was behind the winner the whole way. I pushed the button at the 1/4-pole and went out there, but she was better today. You never know how they are going to finish with the males, and she proved today that she is a great horse."
Right: Third place finisher Rule heads out to the track before the race. His trainer Todd Pletcher said, "I thought he ran exceptionally well. He hung in there. He was third-best here today." Jockey Javier Castellano added, "I had a good trip, that's where I wanted to be. They let me go on the lead with a good pace. I was third best today."
Jackson Bend leads in the stretch while Jersey Town rallies on the outside
12-1 Hamazing Destiny and Sidney's Candy battled for the lead down the backstretch through fractions of 22.09 and 44.45 while being stalked by 50-1 Escrow Kid third. Entering the lane, the pacesetters both tired as Jackson Bend, who was 7th for the first 1/2 mile, came through late to gain the lead at the 1/8 pole through 3/4 in 1:09.20, and drew off in the final furlong to win by 3 1/4 lengths over late-running 5-1 Jersey Town in 1:22.08. It was a head back to 7-1 Aikenite third.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 1 Jackson Bend Nakatani 8.90 4.80 3.10 4 Jersey Town Velasquez 6.00 3.80 7 Aikenite Castellano 4.00 Winning Time: 1:22.08 $2 Exacta 1-4 46.00 $2 Trifecta 1-4-7 205.00 $2 Superfecta 1-4-7-5 1,106.00
Left: Jackson Bend in the winner's circle. His owner Robert LaPenta said, "It's emotional. He's such a great horse and he's had such bad luck. He always tries, every time. He's like the little guy that could do it all, no matter how big they are, he sneaks through. As a 3-year-old he just ran into one monster after the other. You just felt so bad for him, because he tries so hard, he's like a good thing in life, you know? He's small, he's undersized, and he has such incredible heart that it just makes up for everything."
Right: Jackson Bend in the post parade. His jockey Corey Nakatani said, "I knew what was underneath me. He can be tactical. I just let him get in that high cruising speed. When I called on him and needed to get into position at about the 3/8 pole, he was there. Turning for him, I angled down, then I angled back out and he exploded. Once I get to the lead on him, he kind of waits a little for horses. I'm getting to know him a little better each time. Once I set him down and got him running, it was a matter of how far he was going to win."
Left: Second place finisher favorite Jersey Town heads out to the track. The 5-1 fourth choice rated in fourth 2 lengths off the pace under jockey Cornelio Velasquez, then passed the tiring pacesetters to get second beaten 3 1/4 lengths. The Barclay Tagg trainee improved his record to 5 wins, 7 seconds, and 1 third in 14 starts, earning $463,001 for owner-breeder Charles Fipke.
Right: Third place finisher Aikenite in the paddock. His trainer Todd Pletcher said, "We wanted him to settle and make one run and that's what he did. He closed well and he's a very consistent, hard-trying horse every time.
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