Javier Castellano put the finishing touches on a winning weekend at Saratoga
Race Course on Sunday afternoon, piloting 18-1 longshot Ask the Moon to a
front-running victory in the Grade 1, $250,000 Ruffian Invitational Handicap,
the rider’s third graded stakes win in just over 24 hours.
Castellano, who swept the Spa’s
Saturday stakes with Stay Thirsty in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy and Zagora in the
Grade 1 Diana, put Ask the Moon in front coming out of the gate and led the
field of seven fillies and mares through an opening quarter-mile in 23.61 and a
half in 46.92. As Super Espresso, favored Payton d’Oro and Tiz Miz Sue began to
mount their bids behind her on the turn, the 6-year-old daughter of Malibu Moon
opened up through the lane, hitting the wire 5 ¾ lengths clear for her first
Grade 1 victory.
Her winning time for the 1 1/8
miles was 1:50.46.
“It was a pretty decent pace, but
the way she did it, on the lead, she was doing it so easily,” said Castellano, a
replacement for Luis Saez, who did not ride at Saratoga Sunday. “She got a little tired at the
end but she gave me a good race and was strong. The weekend couldn’t have been
The win, coming six weeks after
she was claimed for $75,000 by Farnsworth Stable, also gave Ask the Moon an
automatic berth in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic as the second “Win and
You’re In” race this year in the division. Blind Luck was the first to qualify
following her dramatic victory over Havre de Grace in the Grade 1 Delaware
Handicap on July 16.
“She’s a beautiful mare, that’s
why I claimed her,” said winning trainer Marty Wolfson by telephone from
Park . “That, and the
“I loved that there was less
speed in the race,” he added. “I told Javier sometimes when you go to the lead,
they’ll back off and leave you alone. When they backed off on us, and left us
alone, that was exactly what I wanted.”
Ask the Moon, coming off a
third-place finish in the Sky Beauty Stakes at Belmont Park on July 1 in her first start for her
new owner, earned $150,000 for the win, her ninth from 31 lifetime starts. As
the longest shot on the board, she returned $38.00 for a $2 win bet to her
backers in the crowd of 40,974.
Super Espresso finished second, a
neck ahead of Tiz Miz Sue, who was subsequently disqualified to fourth for
interfering with favored Payton D’Oro in the stretch.
“It was a tight run,” said
Gabriel Saez, aboard the beaten favorite, who was placed third. “With a better
run, we could have at least gotten second.”
Completing the order of finish
were Distorted Legacy, Absinthe Minded, and Dynazaper.
Wolfson said the next start for
Ask the Moon could be the Grade 1, $300,000 Personal Ensign Invitational on
Sunday, August 28.
“I came up here two years ago to
win the Personal Ensign with Icon Project,” he said. “I’d like to do it