Photo: NYRA / Adam Coglianese
Capo Bastone may not have been the preferred Todd Pletcher runner going into the Grade 1, $500,000 King's Bishop at Saratoga, but you’d never have known it after watching the son of Street Boss motor home like a runaway locomotive down the Saratoga stretch. The long shot flew past Mentor Cane in deep stretch to win going away at odds of 28-1 in the 14-horse field.
As has become his custom, Capo Bastone was not rushed while near the back of the pack, as second choice Let Em Shine made the demanding pace of :22.34 and :44.60. Mentor Cane, who had stalked the leader early, made a strong move on the turn to take command of the race. After six furlongs of the seven panel affair, he looked home free with a four-length advantage. That is until a chestnut blurr emerged from the pack, like a shot. Gobbling up all sorts of ground with each powerful stride, the race quickly swung from all Mentor Cane’s, to something out of a how-to training film for late runners.
As the wire came, it was Capo Bastone and rider Irad Ortiz Jr., waving goodbye to the rest of the field a full and sudden two lengths in front. The Pletcher trainee, owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, completed seven furlongs over the fast track in a solid 1:22.22. The time was more than a full second faster than the girls ran in the Grade 1 Test, won by Sweet Lulu, a few races earlier in the card.
The winning trainer had this to say about his winning charge, who at one point trailed by more than 15 lengths ... "He's shown, on his good days, that he's good enough to compete in a race like this," Pletcher said. "He was pretty close to Forty Tales in the Derby Trial, and it seemed like he was training better than ever. Based off his breeze with Verrazano, we felt like it was time to take a shot. It seemed like everything was gelling at the right time, and he was sitting on a good one, so we felt like, 'Let's try a big one. "It seems like he has found his niche. I think he gets a mile, no problem, but this was a good set-up for him today."
A good set-up indeed. The first stakes victory raised Capo Bastone’s lifetime mark to 9-3-1-2, and pushed his earnings to just a shade under $660k. As for the runner-up, things continue to improve.
Mentor Cane, making only his fifth lifetime start, demonstrated the kind of ability that has long been known about the quirky colt. Today was his best, and well-behaved, performance to date. He certainly gave his rider a good feeling for much of stretch, "I thought the last eighth of a mile, that I won the race," said Edgar Prado.
Mentor Cane easily held second, more than by three lengths clear of Central Banker, who edged race favorite, Forty Tales, who is also trained by Todd Pletcher, for third. The loss today broke a three graded stakes winning streak for Forty Tales. Early leader, Let Em Shine faded to 13th.