- "Oh my!" added a particularly animated Tom Durkin as the $4.6 million yearling Maimonides (Vindication) crossed the wire 11 1/2 lengths in front of second place Sam's Passion (with Durkin assertively nailing that margin of victory). Rafael Bejarano was just cruising along on Baffert's 1-2 favorite as his closest pursuers were pumping away. And when he shook him up midstretch just for the heck of it, he sprinted away with flair.
Maimonides is one of five Zayat-owned horses, four of them two-year olds, that have shipped to Saratoga from Del Mar thus far, according to Sherry Ross in the NY Daily News.
The juvenile filly More Happy, who won her debut at Del Mar, is being pointed for the Adirondack a week from today. The lone 3-year-old is E Z Warrior, who experienced his first career loss in the Bing Crosby Handicap at Del Mar on July 29, finishing eighth after stumbling at the break. He is possible for the Aug. 25 King's Bishop.Of Zayat, Baffert told Bloodhorse: "You'll never see him back at Del Mar again."
The final time of 104.41 was a full second faster than that of Z Humor, a pretty impressive debut winner in his own right, in the sixth race for the raging Bill Mott. That's three debut winners and two seconds, all in the last four racing days, and all two-year olds. The trainer stat guys, of which I suppose I've become one of, would have told you that Mott doesn't win with these at Saratoga. Indeed, according to Formulator, he was two for his last 57 in the category here in the last five years before this streak. While I think these stats are most useful, one also has to be ready to change course quickly when it comes to trainers the caliber of Mott, or of Zito, who came alive with his debut runners here last year.
It looked like Zito's Pick Off had second locked up behind Z Humor, when Ready's Echo came from nowhere - "from another county!" said a startled and then amazed Tom Durkin - to get second. You really need to take a look at this....or at least what you can see. Which is Ready's Echo a good 10 lengths behind the second to last horse, who had to be a good 8-10 lengths further behind the leaders, before leaving the picture for the most part until the very end. This son of More Than Ready is trained by Todd Pletcher, and though he adds to the trainer's growing list of futility with debut juveniles in these Saratoga dirt sprints, one of these days, he too is going to win with a whole bunch of them here. Ready's Echo was 9-2 this time, and is sure to create a buzz and a price well south of even money in his next race.
- At Del Mar, John Sadler must have suddenly gotten the hang of Polytrack. The trainer was 1 for 32 before winning no less than six races in the last five days. Today, he took the Grade 3 Sorrento with his two-year old filly Tasha's Miracle. That's the second stakes winner, first graded, for her first-year sire Harlan's Holiday, who has an impressive seven overall; good for third on the first-year sire rankings (by earnings). This filly is out of a Relaunch mare, and her second dam is the graded winner A Penny Is A Penny, by Temperance Hill.
And an interesting result in the third race back out west (where the miserable weather here has me longing to return), one which reflects perhaps the biggest change in the game that I've seen over the years. The first and second finishers were making their first starts since July, 2006 and May, 2006 respectively. They were the only layoff horses in the field. There was a time when the X's would have gone through these two reflexively, and rarely with grim consequences as I recall. I didn't see this race, but, with both horses showing fine back form and snappy workouts over the Polytrack.....I wouldn't have had them anyway.