Le Mi Geaux and apprentice jockey Frederic Lenclud pulled
off an upset Friday afternoon in the first graded stakes race at Saratoga Race
Course, splashing to a 1 1/2-length victory over favored Stopspendingmaria to
win the Grade 3, $100,000 Schuylerville on Opening Day.
After breaking awkwardly, the daughter of First Samurai
settled in fourth as Stopspendingmaria was hounded through fractions of 21.81
and 45.87 by Let’s Get Fiscal and Show Me the Bling. Rounding the turn, Lenclud
kept Le Mi Geaux well off the rail and she closed willingly through the stretch
to pass the embattled leaders, hitting the wire in 1:13.67 over a sloppy track.
“We were supposed to be really close to the lead, like she
did last time, but she didn’t break as sharp and there was a lot of speed, so
we had to sit behind the leaders,” said Lenclud, who picked up his first Spa
victory. “I thought she did something really good today because it’s hard to
come back in the mud and she really finished strong down the lane.”
Stopspendingmaria held on for second, 2 ¾ lengths ahead of
Show Me the Bling, who ran greenly through the stretch, with Let’s Get Fiscal,
Dos Lunas, and Spa Sunrise completing the order of finish. Final Mesa was scratched.
“We were in a difficult position with everyone chasing her,”
said jockey John Velazquez, aboard the beaten favorite. “For the first time in
the slop, she was jumping every path. There was nothing we could do. I had to
keep her in contention, while being comfortable. She had to run fast, and jump
everything. She ran her heart out, only to get beat.”
It was the second straight victory for Le Mi Geaux, a 7 ¼
length maiden winner at Churchill Downs on June 20 in her second start, and
gave her sire First Samurai his first stakes winner. The winner’s purse of
$60,000 almost tripled her earnings to $95,700 for owner and breeder Lansdon B.
Le Mi Geaux returned $20.20 for a $2 win bet.
“I have to give all the credit to the owner,” said Dutrow,
“because he was the one who wanted to run her here. I thought she was in too
tough. I thought the wet track might help us, but that was only a hope.”
Dutrow said the next objective for Le Mi Geaux would likely
be the Grade 1 Spinaway on September 5.